The Schefflera has been a popular plant for use in the landscape and as an indoor plant. Indoors getting rid of mealybugs on Schefflera can be a problem.
Fifty years ago, Brassaia actinophylla was the popular huge houseplant known as the “umbrella tree.”
In the 1970s introduced the dwarf umbrella tree – Schefflera arboricola plant.
Schefflera plants, like many indoor plants, experience attacks from a variety of insect pests.
- Spider Mites
- Citrus mealybug (Planococcus citri)
- Cottony cushion scale
- Soft scale
- Armored scale
- Longtailed mealybug (Pseudococcus longispinus)
- Grape mealybug
Mealybugs Pests What Are They?
Mealy bugs, scales, and aphids are sap-sucking plant pests from the Hemiptera family. These pests are between three and seven millimeters long.
A “mealy” white waxy substance covers their soft body helping them retain water.
Mealybugs thrive in sheltered, moist, warm settings and are commonly found on houseplants, such as Schefflera.
Mealybugs reproduce fast. You see them gathered in white, fluffy clusters on plants’ stems, leaves, and crevices.
The adults are slow-moving and relatively easy to see and kill. The eggs and the hatchlings can be challenging to see and deal with.
Additionally, mealybugs may infest Schefflera roots, you may not see them at all until it is too late. [source]
What Damage Do Mealybugs Cause Schefflera?
These pests damage plants by using their sharp, straw-like mouthparts to pierce plant tissue and suck out nutrients and fluids. In the process, they also secrete salivary toxins into the plant, causing further damage.
When mealybugs infest Schefflera plants, they consume the plants’ sap and leave “honeydew,” a sweet, sticky substance, all over the stems and leaves.
The loss of moisture and nutrients, combined with a sooty mold coating, can cause leaf drop or your Schefflera leaves to wither and turn yellow.
If left untreated, an infected plant infested with mealybugs will fail to thrive and eventually die.
It also is a hazard to other houseplants. Mealybugs searching for new nourishment and move from plant to plant.
This video provides a good overview of mealybugs and scale and presents some ideas for eliminating them on plants.
Best Ways Get Rid of Mealybugs and Scale Insects 101% // Complete Guide
Pest Control Of Mealybugs on Schefflera
You may be able to kill off one mealybug generation using a simple, strong blast or spray of water. But, watch out for the eggs and the hatchlings or crawlers.
Mealybugs have many overlapping generations throughout the year.
In houseplants, like Schefflera, mealybug infestation may be worse during the winter months. Your houseplants experience some downtime. The mealybugs enjoy the comfort of warm, dry living conditions in your home!
This is why a closer inspection is vital to examine plants for egg masses containing as many as two-hundred eggs.
If you see a cocoon-like structure of fine, waxy threads, get rid of it immediately with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.
Prevent mealybug infestation by keeping plants well pruned. Clean the leaves frequently with a damp cloth.
If you notice mealybug infestation, wipe the leaves using an isopropyl alcohol wipe to eliminate existing adults. Repeat this process every couple of days to deal with crawlers as they emerge.
For a large infestation of mealybugs, spray your plant with a horticultural/insecticidal soap and water mixture or with a Neem oil spray. Add a drop or two of dish soap to the mixture.
If the bugs remain, mix up a mild permethrin solution, spraying your plant daily for a week or so to eliminate the pests.
For another option, try a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water.
Generally speaking, remove plants afflicted by soil borne pests from the pot. Wash, trim, and treat the roots with one of the combinations discussed above. We like the Neem drench method. Repot in a new or sterilized pot using clean, new potting mix.
Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth (DE) on the soil surface to discourage soil-dwelling mealybugs. But, understand that DE loses its efficacy when it becomes wet. Reapply between waterings.
If you allow your Schefflera to live outdoors during nice weather, the addition of natural predators, such as parasitic wasps and ladybugs can help keep the plant safe from mealybugs.