How To Get Rid Of Mealybugs On Fiddle Leaf Figs

Named for their large, violin-shaped leaves, the fiddle leaf fig is a popular member of the Moraceae family and is related to the rubber tree plant.

The plant is known by two scientific names, Ficus Lyrata (FY-kus ly-RAY-tuh) and Ficus Pandurata (FY-kus pand-yoor-RAY-tuh).

Leaves of the fiddle leaf fig in hotel lobby - New Orleans, Louisiana
Large leaves of Ficus Pandurata (Fiddle Leaf fig tree)

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 are 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:

They’re 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, allowing them to rapidly multiply before you even notice they’re present.

Mealy bugs 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 a lone mealybug or trail of ants. 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 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 to avoid 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 a 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 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.

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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 plant’s roots.

In the event 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

In the event natural remedies aren’t an option, there are several pesticides on the market to tackle mealybugs, such as malathion and PyGanic Gardening.

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Look for pesticides that contain pyrethrin and explicitly state they will work against mealybugs on the label.

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