Croton is a plant, also known as Variegated Laurel, that is native to Southeast Asia and the Pacific but now grows in warmer regions like the United States.
Unfortunately, these bugs also thrive in warm, humid environments with enough sunlight, like the Croton plant. So, these insects can attack the croton.
A few of these insects on the plant will not typically harm it, but when the croton becomes overrun with Mealybugs, it can weaken or kill the plant.
In this article, we’ll dive deep into all the details about croton pests, including croton mealybugs, croton white fungus treatment, and how to get rid of mealybugs on crotons.
What Is the 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, and you will see many of them covered in a light wax for protection.
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 your Croton plant, the insects protect themselves with a waxy substance and pierce and suck at the sap from the phloem of the vegetation.
The Mealybug pests 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 foliage, leaf veins, stems, and undersides of leaves.
Remember, if you see white stuff on croton plant, your plant likely has mealybug infestation.
What Damage Do Mealybugs Cause?
Just as cutting into the stem of your croton and draining its sap in several places would weaken the plant, an infestation of Mealybugs can deteriorate its health.
If the plant gets too overrun with these insects, the mealybugs on croton can cause an unsightly mess called honeydew or kill the croton.
If an excessive amount of the wax-like substance builds up, it can also negatively affect the quality of the fruit on plants. Occasionally, sooty, black-colored sooty mold will grow on the sugary wax and invite ants.
How To Control Mealybugs
So, how do you kill Mealybug on Croton?
You can try a few methods for these most common pests on your Croton plants.
- Prune your croton. Cut off areas of infestation, but use caution not to prune so much that you kill the croton.
- Avoid over-fertilizing or overwatering. The Mealybug loves damp conditions, soft growth, and high nitrogen levels.
- 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 predators of the Mealybug. You can purchase helpful insects. Just keep in mind some will fly away. So, you may need to ensure you have a desirable environment for these insects to stay around and 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 oil is one of the best natural methods to eliminate Mealybugs. You can use neem oil to interrupt the growth of nuisance insects, and better yet; it’s also advantageous to honeybees. Blend 1 oz into a gallon of water and put it in a spray bottle. Spray your Croton once every week until you notice the infestation disappearing. You can 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. This nozzle sprays a powerful stream of water that hits all sides of green leaves and stems to remove the eggs and new larvae. You can wash plants with a diluted mix of neem oil for an even more effective treatment.
- Increasing humidity by frequent misting will also decrease infestation.
- Insecticidal soaps are a useful method that resides somewhere between all-natural water spray and neem oil and harsher insecticides. The soapy mixture of some products can deteriorate the outer body of critters like Mealybugs, thrips, and spider mites, eradicating them quickly. This method is temporary, though, and does not provide results for long periods. So, Mealybugs may come back to your houseplant without maintenance.
- If natural methods haven’t worked, try an insecticide spray, which works on Mealybugs. Follow the label instructions carefully and use caution around kids and pets if you opt for a chemical treatment.
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 to kill mealybug on Croton? With several methods of eradication 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 Croton back to looking healthy and vibrant again.
Remember, providing proper croton plant care will help prevent and control the spread of these pesky mealybugs.