Have you ever seen mealybugs on houseplants or on other ornamental plants in the landscape? They look like cotton or blotches of powder all over the leaves. If so, you’ve seen them, naturally, mealybug control will be a priority.
Why Mealy Bug Control is Necessary
Mealybugs are white, soft bodied, cottony-looking insects equipped with piercing/sucking mouth parts. They are like plant scale in that they suck the fluids from leaves and stems, robbing plants of essential nutrients.
Mealybugs excrete large amounts of honeydew, this makes an excellent “growing soil” for a black fungus called sooty mold.
Sooty mold is unattractive, and interferes with photosynthesis, it can also retard the growth of the plant. This can also make floors sticky. Sooty mold usually whithers away after removing the mealybug.
Watch For Ants Feeding On Mealybug Honeydew
Ants feed on the honeydew, when you find ants crawling around your plants indoors or out or observed making a nice trail from a plant.
Take some time to examine your houseplants closely for these sucking pests.
Mealy bugs do well indoors – they love and live very well in warm, dry environments. They have a life cycle of about 30 days.
They normally call home and deposit their eggs where leaves join stems or along leaf veins. Their feeding will cause leaves to turn yellow and drop.
Damaged plants look withered and may have a sticky sap on the leaves or stems.
Some of the indoor plants most commonly affected by mealy bugs include:
- African violets
- Norfolk Island pine
- Jade plant
How To Get Rid Of Mealybugs
As with scale insects an easy method of control is to apply alcohol with cottons swabs directly on the mealybug.
Wiping down the foliage regularly and helping plants clean will help keep mealy bugs in check.
If a plant becomes severely infested consider using safe natural organic neem oil to control the pest or make your own homemade insecticidal soap or possibly horticultural oils. Neem can be found at your local garden center. Always read the pesticide label and wear appropriate safety equipment when applying any chemical.
For heavy infestations of mealy bugs, try spraying directly on the insects a mixture of 10 percent rubbing alcohol and 90 percent water. Repeat applications weekly until the bugs are gone.
Always test any insecticidal soap and alcohol mixtures on a small portion of the plant prior to full application as some plants may be sensitive to soap or alcohol. Systemic insecticides are another possibility, although I try to avoid them.
All Natural Control Of Mealybugs With Beneficial Insects
Using beneficial insects for biological control is another option. One beneficial insect is known as the “Mealybug Destroyer” or Cryptolaemus montrouzieri technically and as “Crypts” for short. Like the excellent garden friend the ladybug, C. montrouzieri are ladybug beetles. Unlike the ladybug, they hang around after release and do not disappear.