The deciduous shrub is known by two scientific names, Ficus Lyrata (FY-kus ly-RAY-tuh) and Ficus Pandurata (FY-kus pand-yoor-RAY-tuh).
Its rounded leaves can grow up to 12” inches long and have the ability to retain water for longer periods of time than many similar plants.
Unfortunately, this easy-to-care-for plant isn’t immune to pests, and getting rid of mealybugs on the Fiddle Leaf fig is one of the worst.
Fiddle Leaf Fig And Mealybugs
Mealybugs are a type of unarmored scale insect hailing from the Pseudococcidae family and are known by several nicknames, including:
- Citrus mealybugs
- Fuzzy Roly Poly
- Millie bugs
- Pink Hibiscus bugs
- Tiny white bugs
They’re one of the most common pests and are notoriously difficult pests to get rid of despite a 30-day life cycle.
Mealybugs resemble tiny puffs of cotton and excrete a powdery, waxy coating that inspired their name.
Like Ficus pandurata, mealybugs love warm environments, making them especially problematic for tropical plants.
Worst of all, adult Mealybug females can lay a clutch of 500 eggs, usually on plants or bark, allowing them to multiply before you even notice they’re present rapidly.
Once the eggs hatch and turn into larvae, they’re quite difficult to control.
Mealybugs tend to hide on the underside of Fiddle leaf fig leaves and will fit their clutches (and themselves) into the smallest crevasses present, especially at joints.
Some species will also hide among the roots and in the potting soil, making it even harder to spot, with the first telltale sign usually being either an alone mealybug or a trail of ants.
Related: More on controlling Root Mealybugs.
What Damage Do Mealybugs Cause To Fiddle Leaf Figs?
The first and most visible damage a mealybug does is to pierce a plant’s veins and drink its sap.
Over time, this will cause leaves to turn yellow and wilt.
A more pressing problem comes from the large amount of honeydew these pests excrete.
Honeydew attracts ants, which harvest the honeydew for food and can also attract other pests who will take up residence.
The honeydew will also lead to sooty mold, which not only looks unattractive but can cause its own set of problems.
The numerous lesions left behind by mealybugs can invite a host of infections your fiddle leaf fig would normally be able to fight off.
How To Kill Mealybugs On Fiddle Leaf Fig?
Thankfully, discovering a mealybug infestation isn’t the end of your beloved fiddle-leaf fig, and there are several ways to treat the problem.
Always begin by placing any infested plants in quarantine, separating them from the new plants to prevent the problem from spreading to other plants.
Follow this up by carefully pruning away any obviously infested leaves and disposing of them in an airtight bag, sterilizing your tools immediately after.
Natural Mealy Bug Remedies
Gently bathing the plant is one of the easiest ways to combat mealybugs.
You can use homemade insecticidal soap to kill the mealybugs. Make sure your indoor Ficus pandurata is protected from direct sunlight.
Once it dries, repeat after a couple of days to ensure any newly-hatched nymphs don’t survive.
Neem oil insecticide spray is another great solution, and you can easily coat the leaves using a spray bottle.
Neem Oil is our FAVORITE natural organic insecticide. Control aphids, mealybugs, plant scale, Japanese Beetles and more. It can also be used as a soil drench.
70% percent isopropyl alcohol can be used when you don’t have access to neem oil and can be used in a number of ways:
- Dab mealybugs directly with a soaked cotton swab to kill them.
- Periodically wipe down the entire fiddle leaf fig plant, making sure to get all the cracks and crevasses (this will also kill any fungus and remove dust).
- Fill a spray bottle with a 50/50 mix of water and rubbing alcohol, adding a teaspoon of Dawn dish soap for a quick and easy spray option.
Be careful to avoid overwatering, as mealybugs will last longer than your houseplant’s roots.
You can also use sticky traps to lure and trap mealybugs, especially the winged male ones.
If you have an outdoor plant, try attracting Japanese lady beetles and ladybugs, lacewings, or parasitic wasps, as they consider mealybugs and other pests to be a tasty treat.
Chemical Method Of Mealybug Control
If natural remedies for your deciduous tree aren’t an option, several pesticides are on the market to tackle Common Fig Tree pests like mealybugs, such as malathion and PyGanic Gardening.
Look for pyrethrum spray pesticides that contain pyrethrin materials and explicitly state they will work against mealybugs on the label from the manufacturer. This will also help control other pests, including spider mites, borers, carpenter worms, earwigs, fungus gnats, and sap beetles.