Mealybugs are soft-bodied insects with a waxy appearance, belonging to the insect family Pseudococcidae. They are covered in cotton-like materials, which stops them from losing moisture and from overheating. These pests are a familiar problem in the greenhouse, garden, and indoor plants. They feed on plants by attacking the leaves, stems, and fruits of plants, inserting their long sucking mouthpart in the plants, and drawing sap out of the tissue. This feeding is accompanied by honeydew, making the plants sticky and encouraging the development of sooty mould fungus. The damage they cause to plants is not usually much at a low level. Still, when the pest infestation is high, they can cause leave yellowing and curling as the plants weaken and also cause fruits, vegetables, and flower buds to drop off prematurely.
Male mealybugs are oval and do have wings but are rarely seen on plants and do not live long. They only live between two to three days, and their only purpose is to fertilize the female mealybugs, while female mealybugs, on the other hand, are more comprehensive than the males, round in shape, and do not have wings like the males. They can grow to be about 1/16 inch long. The eggs of female mealybugs are usually hidden in a fluffy white excretion, and this is to protect the eggs from predators. After the female mealybug lays these eyes, it dies off. These eggs hatch in about ten days, producing nymphs or crawlers which relocate to another part of the plant to develop into an adult between four to eight weeks. If these eggs do not eat for twenty-four hours, they will die.
How to Get Rid Of Mealybugs
To get rid of mealybugs on your plants, you have to check if they infest your plants. To know your plants are infected, you will see what looks like cotton fluff on different parts of your plants. Check for mealybugs under leaves or leaf folds, new growth on plants and roots (by checking the draining hole of planting pot, uprooting the plants, or examining the leaves of plants whether they are yellow or wilting).
When the infestation is small, you can get rid of them using isopropyl alcohol and a cotton swab.
Soak the cotton swab with alcohol and dab on any mealybug you see. Take care to avoid your plants so the alcohol will not burn the leaves of your plants.
You can dilute the drink with warm water if it burns the leaves. You have to repeat this for a few weeks to get everything out of your plants. Another way to get rid of a small infestation is by spraying a high-pressure stream of water into the plants to knock most of the mealybugs out of your plants. By so doing, you can get and dispose of them. But when the infestation is large, you can you oils. The oil suffocates the bugs and egg, thereby stopping the eggs from hatching. Neem oil can be used because it serves as a pesticide and a fungicide. The oil also acts as a repellent, which repels the bugs from feeding off the plant, so they die slowly. Insecticidal soap can get rid of these bugs when the soap comes in direct contact with bugs. The potassium salt of the fatty acids in the soap destroys the cells within the mealybugs’ body, causing them to dry out.
The soap can also suffocate the bugs but be careful because the soap can harm your plants. Test the plants’ soap by spraying a small section of the plant to see how your plant will react. Ensure you pour the soap on every part of the plant more than once to get rid of them. You can get the soap in local stores, or you can make your own. Another way is through pruning any infected leaves or branches and get rid of them immediately, after which you can use the water spray method or the isopropyl alcohol method. If the infestation is in most of your plants, this method is not ideal because you will prune your plants down into nubs.
How To Get Rid Of Mealybugs on Cactus
Mealybugs attack cactus by accumulates around the base of a cactus or just beneath the soil around its growing point. The presence of mealybug infestation on the cactus can be seen by ants problems, fallen needles, or a secretion that looks like white fluff on the plant. Mealybugs can be gotten rid of in cactus by:
1. Dabbing the bugs or white fluff with alcohol on a cotton swab
2. Spraying the cactus plant with dish soap diluted in a cup of water.
3. Introducing a mealybug predator such as cryptolaemus montrouzeri but ensure you maintain a balance between predator and prey.
4. Imidacloprid, which is low in toxicity to humans and animals than some other chemicals, can be used to water plants once every several months when the bugs are growing on plants. This kills the bugs when they ingest the cactus’ sap.
5. Fumigant smoke cones can be used regularly, especially in large groupings of plants in the greenhouse.
6. During active growth on roots, dip the cactus pot in a bucket containing few drops of dish soap and insecticides and let the plant dry completely. Ensure the insecticides gets to all the bugs to avoid the bugs becoming resistant to insecticides.
How To Get Rid Of Mealybugs On Indoor Plants
It is essential to control Mealybugs on your indoor plants to maintain the plants’ good health as the infestation can occur and increase rapidly, causing your precious plants to do poorly or die. For you to get rid of mealybugs from your indoor plants:
1. Before you bring any houseplant home, check the plant very well for any mealybugs infestation.
2. For light infestation, wash the bugs away with a steady stream of water.
3. Avoid over-fertilization of your houseplant. Feed your plants only when necessary because mealybugs thrive on any soil rich in nitrogen.
4. Dab the Mealybugs with a cotton swab or ball soaked with isopropyl alcohol to dry out the insect or remove bugs with a paper towel or rag. Ensure you squish the bugs when you remove them and dispose of the paper towel or wash the rag.
5. Wash the plants with water and gentle detergent to control the bugs.
6. Spray the plants with soap spray or an oil spray to dry out and kill the bugs.
7. If mealybugs heavily infest the plant, discard the plant and replace it with a new one.
How To Get Rid Of Mealybugs On Succulents
When growing succulents, both indoors or outdoors, you may likely encounter mealybugs at some point, and if not controlled or entirely gotten rid of, they can spread from plant to plant very quickly.
Mealybugs feed on new growth on succulents. They can be in every part of your plants, but most times, the leaves meet up with the stem. As these bugs move all over your succulents, they eat them, and this can cause stunted growth, shapeless or smaller plant or stains on the leaves. So to get rid of them from your succulents, first identify the plant with the bug and take it far away from other plants, so the bugs don’t infest them. The bugs can then be killed in the infested plant by dabbing or spraying the plant with 70% or less isopropyl alcohol. Spray the alcohol very well on the succulent because it doesn’t burn the plant’s leaves and continue to spray to ensure they don’t come back. If the infestation is large, you may pour alcohol on the soil when you water the plant to kill any bugs still in the ground. Neem oil can also be used to get rid of Mealybugs on succulents. It can kill all mealybugs when the oil contacts them. Just mix 5% of neem oil with water (do not use undiluted neem oil because it can burn the plant), add few drops of soap to the water, and spray all over the succulent using a spray bottle Q-tip to paintbrush any mealybug on the plant. After hours, rinse the plant with water to get rid of dead bugs on the plant and keep off the sun to avoid sunburn or watermarks. If mealybugs don’t reappear after some weeks, put back plant on the window or sun. You can also get mealybugs out of your succulents by taking the plant out of the pot, rinse them under a strong stream of water, and then cleaning the pot thoroughly with hot soapy water.
Allow the pot and plant to dry before replanting with new soil. Ladybugs are predators that feed on mealybugs and do not harm succulents. So you can introduce them to your succulents and have them take care of the mealybugs for you.
How To Get Rid Of Mealybugs With Dish Soap
It is challenging to control adult mealybugs because they are cover in a waxy coating. Still, direct contact with soap spray breaks down the waxy coating protecting them, and the bugs dehydrate, eventually killing them. But the soap spray can be harmful to plant because of the harsh chemical content. That is why it is advisable to use insecticidal soap spray because of their low soap concentration, about one to two percent, rather than homemade soap spray. If you still want to use homemade soap spray, make sure you use soft or distilled water rather than hard water because the mineral in hard water will not allow the soap to be effective when mixed with soap. Also, do not use dry dish soap or laundry soap because the chemical content is harmful to plants.
Use mild liquid dish soap or detergent instead. Spray the soap on plants early in the morning or evening and avoid spraying when the sun is up because the spray may harm the plant due to the hot weather.
Suppose you are using insecticidal soap, following the instructions on the label. To use the soap spray, you can test the spray by spraying a small part of the plant to see whether the plant will react to the fountain after a day or two. If not, spray the soap spray all over the plant, making sure to coat all mealybugs and eggs. Wash off the spray after two to three hours with fresh, clean water to avoid any chances of injury. Continue to spray every four to seven days until there is no sign of Mealybugs on your plant. To make your soap spray, mix two teaspoons of mild liquid dish soap in one quart of water and spray plant. Another method is to mix one cup of olive oil, one tablespoon of mild liquid dish detergent, and two distilled warm water cups. Mix thoroughly and spray the plant using a spray bottle.
How To Get Rid Of Mealybugs In Soil
Soil mealybugs are challenging to dictate because they are hidden in the soil down below, feeding on the plant’s root. You can only notice them when a few of them are lurking around the surface of the soil, when you pull out the plant from the soil or when you discover small bluish-white spots on the inner walls of the pot. When the root is heavily infested, there will be tiny white fluff bits in the saucer when you water plant. These bugs suck the sap out of the plant, making the plant’s growth stunted, less vigour, and the leaves will turn yellow or brown. To get rid of soil mealybugs, uproot the plant from the planting pot and discard the soil, soak the root in a pail of hot water, between 110-120°F, ensure you cover the top of them. This will kill the bugs but not cause any damage to the roots. Leave the plant in the water for ten minutes, then put the plant back into the pot with new soil. If you are using the same pot, soak the pot in boiling water and give the pot a thorough scouring to get rid of any mealybug hanging by the side of the pot. You can also soak the plant’s roots with a diluted insecticide solution if you don’t want to use hot water for fifteen minutes before repotting. Another way is by slowly pouring insecticide solution into the soil until thoroughly saturated. You can’t be sure about this method because you are not confident whether the solution got to every bug or egg sacs. For plants on the ground, you will notice mealybugs infestation through the high population of ants around the base of a plant that appears free from insect pests, or a small plant can be uprooted to examine the root for cottony growth. Pesticides can be used to drench the soil to kill the bugs but make sure you follow the instructions on the label when applying to avoid over-treating or damaging the plant.
How To Get Rid Of Mealybugs With Neem Oil
Neem oil is derived from neem trees, and it’s a natural pest control product that is very effective for getting rid of Mealybugs on plants. It disrupts the bugs’ growth, suffocates or dries them out, and kills them, and it also repels them from coming back. It also has antifeedant properties and is non-toxic to birds, animals, and other beneficial insects. To use, mix one oz of neem oil per gallon of water or follow the instructions on the label and spray underneath the leaves, at the base of the branches, and over the top of the soil, every seven to fourteen days, mealybugs are no longer present. You can also add mild liquid soap to the mixture of neem oil and water to help the oil mix very well with water.
How To Get Rid Of Mealybugs With Alcohol
Alcohol is used mainly to kill mealybugs on indoor plants because the bugs have many predators that can kill them outside. Alcohol dissolves the protective wax that covers mealybugs’ soft bodies and dries them out, leading to death. The spray tends to draw out moving insects out from where they are hiding in the plants, making them easier to control. Unfortunately, alcohol can burn the sensitive plant leaves, so be very careful when using it, so it doesn’t kill your plants. Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol is the most often recommended alcohol used as an insecticide. It contains 70% alcohol and 30% water.
When infestation is not much on plants, the bugs can be controlled by dipping a cotton swab into the alcohol and dabbing the bugs or their egg sacs with the swab. This kind of treatment will not damage the plant leaves if you apply most of the alcohol on the bugs and eggs. Although this method will not get to some of the bugs that are hidden where you cannot see in the plant or those that are in their microscopic juvenile stage unless when they mature or crawl out from there hiding place, so you need to repeat the process every week until you are sure all the bugs are eliminated. In extensive or large infestation, mix one cup of alcohol with one teaspoon of mild liquid dish soap and one quart of water together and spray on the plant using a spray bottle. Ensure you spray all the surface of the plant, including both sides of leaves and stem but before you do so, test a small part of the plant by pouring it and then wait for at least twenty four hours to see how the leaves of the plant will react to the solution. If there is no effect, you can spray all over the plant, repeating the process every week until all the bugs are gone.
There should be enough ventilation when you use this alcohol indoors to avoid intoxication or use protective gears when applying the solution. Also, note that alcohol is inflammable, so ensure no open flames are around the area to spray the solution.