Tips For Getting Rid Of Mealybugs on Pothos

Indoor plants like pothos bring life to the home, improve your mood, and reduce stress levels. Pothos plants are also known as the money plant or devil’s ivy.

Indoors or outside, it thrives in shaded spots without direct sunlight. It’s an evergreen plant with waxy, heart-shaped leaves.

Golden Pothos plant being spraying for mealybugs
Spraying for houseplant pests | Tharakorn-DepositPhotos

Pothos was used in the NASA indoor air quality study and found to remove carbon monoxide and formaldehyde.

Finding bugs inside your home is never a pleasant surprise. A mealybug infestation on all pothos varieties will cause irreversible damage to these houseplants.

If you see your pothos turning yellow mealy bugs may be the problem.

What Are Mealybugs?

Mealybugs are habitual houseplant pests. These pink, soft-bodied insects look like they wear a white, cottony, waxy coating. Their white cotton coat helps protect protects them from excessive heat.

NOTE: You can see mealybugs with the naked eye! Also, the most common mealybug species found on houseplants is the citrus mealybug (Planococcus citri).

Unlike similar pests, mealybugs keep their legs, and females remain wingless.

It can seem as though mealybugs appear out of nowhere when you spot them on new growth onyour plant. The mealy bug is so small they can enter your home undetected through potting soil or fresh produce.

This is why it is also important to thoroughly wash your produce regardless of where you buy it.

Mealybugs are generally not harmful to humans but they are a problem for our houseplants. There have been some cases of mealybugs spreading viruses. But, it is uncommon for this small pest to cause people illness.

The sticky residue they leave behind can cause skin irritation or become a challenge to wash off clothing.

Mealybug on Pothos

Pothos is typically a hardy plant without many common issues. But, this durable plant is not immune to pest infestation, especially from mealybugs.

Mealybugs live and feed on your pothos, causing the leaves to turn yellow and wilt, eventually killing the plant.

How To Control a Mealybug Infestation on Pothos

There are several proven pest control methods for mealybug on pothos.

Their use depends on the severity of the infestation and the location of your plant.

Ladybugs

If your pothos is growing outdoors, consider using ladybugs to help control the mealybug population.

Ladybugs are beneficial insects best known for eating aphids. But, Ladybugs also eat mites, mealybugs, and other small, soft-bodied insects.

Ladybugs are insect predators and a natural solution for mealybug control you can buy online. Be sure to figure out how much area you need to cover.

Specific amounts of ladybugs are most useful to cover a certain square footage of your yard. They are generally sold in pints or gallons.

  • 1,500 ladybugs cover up to 750 square feet
  • 4,500 ladybugs cover up to 2,500 square feet
  • 9,000 ladybugs cover up to 5,000 square feet
  • 18,000 ladybugs cover up to 10,000 square feet

NOTE: The Mealybug Destroyer (Cryptolaemus montrouzieri) is another beneficial insect to control citrus mealybugs.

Isopropyl Alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol, also known as rubbing alcohol, is a widely used disinfectant in the medical field. A solution of only 70% percent is effective at killing mealy bugs on indoor house plants.

Soak cotton swabs or a q-tip with the alcohol, then dab the cotton swab directly on the mealy bugs. In some severe cases, you can use a spray bottle to more thoroughly coat the mealybugs.

Before you use this solution on your mealybug colony, to test it on your pothos one to two days beforehand.

If your solution is too strong, it can cause phytotoxicity or leaf burn. In some cases, you may need to dilute your solution to less than 70% percent to prevent damaging your plant.

Insecticides

Some mealybug infestations may require the use of insecticides. But, you can find contact insecticides today with lower toxicity than what was sold years ago.

Insecticidal Soap

Insecticide soap is a non-toxic alternative to some more dangerous insecticides. Commercial-grade insecticidal soaps are a highly-refined liquid dish soap.

Make your own Homemade Insecticidal Soap with our recipe.

Coating mealybugs with this solution disrupts their protective waxes and suffocates them. Treating your infestation with Insecticide soap does not leave behind any harsh residues.

Question: Will dish soap kill mealybugs?

Answer: Yes, Make sure you cover the leaves and stems well. Use Dawn dish soap or Dr Bonner’s Castile Soap.

Horticultural Oil

Oil-based pesticides, like horticultural oil, are an eco-friendly alternative to traditional pesticides. Spray horticultural oil on your pothos to kill off mealybugs. It also works to get rid of some other plant bugs like scale insects.

Horticultural oil blocks the pore-like breathing holes on mealybugs, which suffocates them. This oil also prevents new mealybugs from cropping up by disrupting the metabolism of their eggs.

Neem Oil Spray

Neem oil is an organic pesticide pressed from the seeds of the neem tree, native to India. Neem oil disrupts the mealybugs’ hormonal balance. The oil kills these pest insects off before they reach the next stage of their life cycle.

Neem oil is safe for plants and kills pests who have eaten the sprayed leaves. Its smell also works as a deterrent to future mealybugs.

Pothos are wonderful houseplants. They also make excellent hanging basket plants. Don’t let mealybugs ruin their beauty.

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