Mealybugs on Croton plants are not a good combination.
Crotons are plants, known botanically as Codiaeum variegatum. It is native to Southeast Asia and the Pacific but grows in warmer regions of the United States.
Mealybugs are part of the Pseudococcidae insect family and recognizable by their wax-covered, oval, typically whitish bodies.
Pests like citrus mealybugs (Planococcus citri) pierce plants with their stylets to feed and suck sap from new growth. These insects are related to soft scales, but the Mealybug has a delicate body without the scaley shell.
Unfortunately, mealybugs thrive in the same warm, humid environments, the Codiaeum plant enjoys too. So, mealy bug insects attack Crotons.
A few of these insects on the plant will not typically harm it. But when all varieties of Croton become overrun with Mealybugs, it can weaken or kill the plants.
What Is A Mealybug and What Do They Do?
Adult Mealybugs are roughly 1/10″ to 1/4″ of an inch in length. You can identify them by their soft, oval, white, or grayish-hued bodies. A light wax protection covers their bodies.
Some older adults will develop enough of the wax-like substance to appear to have a feathery fur or whisker-like buildup of the wax.
When mealybugs infest crotons, the insects protect themselves with a waxy substance. They pierce and suck the sap from the phloem of the vegetation.
The cottony masses of mealybugs then excrete a sticky substance with natural sugars that can look fluffy and mostly white. You can usually find this excretion along the plant’s veins and stems.
Mealy bugs not only attack leaves and stems but root mealybugs can be an issue.
What Damage Do Mealybugs Cause Crotons?
A few mealybugs cutting into the stem and draining the sap in several places weakens the plant. An infestation of Mealybugs can deteriorate its health.
If crotons get overrun with these insects, it can cause an unsightly mess, called honeydew or worse, kill the plant.
If an excessive amount of the wax-like substance builds up, it can also negatively affect the plants’ quality. Occasionally, black sooty mold will grow on the sugary wax.
Control Methods For Mealybug Pests On Crotons
So, how do you kill Mealybug pests on Crotons? Below are a few methods to get rid of Mealybugs on your croton plants.
- Prune your Plant. Cut off areas of infestation on the host plant. Use caution not to prune too much.
- Avoid over-fertilizing or over-watering. The Mealybug loves damp conditions, soft growth, and high levels of nitrogen.
- Utilize rubbing alcohol. Many insects cannot survive isopropyl alcohol, and mealybugs are one of them. Take a cotton ball or cotton swab, soak it with rubbing alcohol, and lightly dab it directly on the mealybugs and infested areas.
- If the plant is outdoors, try using beneficial insects. Ladybugs and the Mealybug destroyer (Cryptolaemus montrouzieri), for example, are natural mealybug predators. Purchase these helpful insects online. Keep in mind. Some will fly away. Ensure you have an environment suitable for these good bugs to stay around. Use them in a half-enclosed space, such as a greenhouse or a partially-walled-off area.
- Try beneficial and non-toxic neem oil. Neem pesticide oil sprays are one of the best natural methods to eliminate mealybugs. Use neem sprays to interrupt the growth of nuisance insects. It is also advantageous to honeybees. Blend 1 oz into a gallon of water, put it in a spray bottle. Spray your Croton once every week until you notice the infestation disappears. Spray once every two weeks for maintenance.
- Using the spray nozzle on your hose can take off several mealybugs with the simple power of water. The nozzle sprays a powerful stream of water that hits all sides of leaves and stems. Wash plants with a diluted mix of neem concentrate for an even more effective treatment.
- Insecticidal soap is a useful method that resides somewhere between all-natural water spray, neem oil, and the harsher insecticides. The soapy mixture of some products can deteriorate the outer body of critters like mealybugs, eradicating them quickly. This method is temporary, though, and does not provide results for long periods. Mealybugs may come back to your plant without maintenance.
- If natural methods haven’t worked, try an insecticide spray, labeled to control mealybugs. Follow the label instructions carefully and use caution around kids and pets when opting for a chemical treatment.
Popular Crotons To Grow and Collect
Croton plants can provide beautiful leafy coverage with varying shades of green, red, and yellow. Unfortunately, Mealybugs are attracted to these lush warm-weather plants, too.
So, how do you get rid of to kill Mealybugs feeding on Crotons?
With several eradication methods at your disposal, you can get rid of pesky insects quickly, though. Don’t just toss a plant in the trash because of a small infestation.
Give a few of these tips a shot and get your Crotons back to looking healthy and vibrant again.