Adult mealybug (left) start its life cycle as a nymph emerging from white fuzzy egg sac (right). For such small creatures, mealybugs can be surprisingly hard to remove. To get rid of mealybugs on plants dip a cotton swab in 70% rubbing alcohol and apply directly to the tiny fuzzy pests. Citrus mealybugs don’t have the same long tail that Pseudococcus longispinus has, but they do impact some similar plants. You can also use alcohol to disinfect the inside of the pot before adding a new potting mix. Isopropyl alcohol kills many houseplant pests, including mealybugs on contact. However, some people do have a sensitivity to the waxy secretions they produce, and it can cause skin irritation. Blast mealybugs and other scale insects off your plants with a hard spray of water. They of course also go after citrus, as their name would imply. Making sure the plants that tend to be targets of mealybug infestations are not overwatered or overfertilized is a key step in making sure the plant is unappealing to these bugs. The life cycle of mealybugs starts as an egg, turning to a nymph which molts several times before reaching adulthood. Here’s a list of some of the best ways to eliminate them. Isopropyl Alcohol 70% The first method is very simple: get a bottle of rubbing alcohol and a cotton … We all want to protect the environment, our families and our food, but most non-manmade chemicals available have limited effectiveness. One of the lesser-known mealybugs in most of the United States, the pineapple mealybug is a pink or pinkish-orange color. It’s easy to mistake them for white plant fungus. What are the best natural mealybug treatment methods to get rid of them for good? To prevent mealybug infections, inspect any new plant you bring into your home. For example, a sticky honeydew secretion encourages black sooty mold growth. While not all mealybugs are cared for in this fashion, many species can be. These mealybugs have a long, oval-shaped body which is dark in coloration, but covered in a white waxy secretion. Listen to this post on the Epic Gardening Podcast, Subscribe to the Epic Gardening Podcast on iTunes. The first step to getting rid of mealybugs is to isolate infected plants from other houseplants. While they do spread some viruses to grape plants and can transmit other plant diseases, they don’t bite humans. These pests tend to live in and around what they eat. Spray your succulents, cacti, or tropical houseplants regularly with neem oil for it to be effective. Hi, I'm Kevin. They’re quite useful in greenhouses as well as outdoors and will happily eat all life stages of mealy bug. If you get recurring mealybug problems, you may need to change the potting mix. Have you battled with mealybugs before? Check out my post on ant control tips for good ways to get rid of them! Except for neem oil. Unfortunately, by the time you identify mealybugs by the white furry cotton, the infestation is already extensive. The second step should be eradication of the little white bugs by spraying or washing them with natural mealybug killer products. Mealybugs are tiny, cotton-like, and normally hang out in white, web-like stuff on stems and leaves of succulents and green leafy plants. Neem oil insecticide is everything a gardener could want. You can also prevent mealybugs by creating a healthy environment for plants to grow well. I recommend Safer Soap, which works on a wide number of sucking pests. Check under leaves, in new leaf folds, and around the growing tips for signs of infestation. You can identify mealybug infestation on plants by their distinctive white furry clumps on the leaves or stems. Mealybugs like lush foliage, so avoid over-fertilizing with excess nitrogen. The grape mealybug is from and resides mostly in central and northern California. Mealybugs can hide in between succulent leaves, in the joints of houseplants, and even in the soil. Soap spray can effectively kill mealybugs. If you don’t get rid of mealybugs, they can end up killing your plants. However, mealybugs thrive in nitrogen-rich soil, and too much of it creates the perfect environment for little white plant bugs to multiply. An uncommon, but equally-effective beneficial insect is the mealybug destroyer, Cryptolaemus montrouzieri. Falling under the larger category of scale insects, mealybugs are part of the family Pseudococcidae. Neem oil is especially useful on mealybugs in their nymph stage. While feeding, mealybugs may inject toxic saliva into plant tissue, and excrete copious amounts of honeydew that serves as an excellent growing medium for black sooty mold fungi. Mealybugs, sometimes called woolly aphids, leave behind a telltale white cottony coating on the plants. Have tips I haven’t mentioned here? Source: entophile, Coconut mealybug. Some forms of scale insects build up at the joint of leaf and stem, where they can have some shelter from the elements. Stone fruits such as apricot or peach are at risk from gill mealybugs, as are some nuts like pistachio or almond. This is the period of time when mealybugs travel and spread to other plants. You may also notice black sooty mold fungus if you’ve got mealybugs on plants. Mealybugs are small crawling creatures measuring about 2 mm long. There is also scientific evidence for the effectiveness of using neem oil solutions to eradicate mealybugs. It is best to avoid using chemical pesticides to kill mealybugs. Yellowish-orange in coloration, the coconut mealybug is found on a wide variety of palm trees, avocados, and some flowering tropical plants. Mealybugs are a nightmare for any gardener, apart from being extremely unpleasant to look at, they are also very harmful for the health of plants. Mealybugs suck sap from plant phloem, reducing plant vigor, and they excrete sticky honeydew and wax, which reduces plant and fruit quality, especially when black sooty mold grows on the honeydew. As infestation spreads, the pests work their way inward. A fresh, sterile potting soil helps ensure that there is no trace of mealybugs. Although a few mealybugs won’t stress a plant too much, it’s only a matter of time before you’ve got a full-blown infestation. The alcohol helps to dissolve the protective layer of the mealybugs and their eggs and kill them. Isolate the infected plants from the rest of the plants. The tiny bugs crawl around the plant, leaving a waxy substance on them. The pink hibiscus mealybug poses the greatest hibiscus threat because of its toxic, leaf-curling plant-stunting saliva, but all mealybugs disfigure and weaken the plants. When using neem oil as a homemade pesticide spray, it’s vital to remember that it takes time to work. Thoroughly inspect all parts of the plant—around leaf joints, under leaves, and in the top layer of soil around the stem. How to Fight a Mealybug Infestation. Alcohol sprays sometimes are recommended as insecticides, especially for the elimination of mealybugs, which can prove resistant to other treatments. Researchers found that neem oil can kill mealybugs on contact. Looking at close-up pictures of mealybugs, you’ll notice microscopic spines sticking out from their oval bodies. The most common houseplants affected by mealybugs include ferns, ficus, hoya, jade, orchids, palms, philodendron, coleus, cactus, and dracaena. Soap sprays and oil sprays can also help control mealybugs without the disruption that can be caused by toxic chemical sprays. Identifying mealybugs correctly is key to eradicating them. A little more about me. Mealybugs are a sucking pest that can slowly kill plants. It’s best to completely change the soil, rather than just the top one or two inches. Regain control of your garden with various methods to kill and remove the pesky bugs. This waxy appearance can become powdery, which gives the bugs a furry appearance. Check the label to make sure your plant is listed and always follow label directions for use. 2003), coffee trees, cassava, ferns, cacti, gardenias, papaya, mulberry, sunflower and orchids. In farm situations where multiple plants of the same species are close together, it’s common to see initial damage on the outer plants of a field. A common greenhouse pest or nursery pest. Mealybug identification is usually done by the clumps of furry cotton wool-like fuzz on your plant—either colonies of bugs or collections of egg sacs. Look for tiny white bugs that crawl around dark places on your plant. Different types will prefer leaves, stems, the plant’s base, the roots, and even the fruit in some cases as a home. Some species of mealybugs have long filaments at their rear end, giving them an appearance of having long tails. 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