Have you ever seen mealy bugs on houseplants or on plants in the landscape? Have you ever looked at one of your houseplants and noticed what looked like cotton or blotches of powder all over the leaves?
If so, you’ve seen them, naturally mealybug control will be a priority.
Why Mealy Bug Control is Necessary
Mealybugs are white, soft bodied, cottony-looking insects equipped with piercing/sucking mouth parts.
They are like plant scale in that they suck the fluids from leaves and stems, robbing plants of essential nutrients.
Mealybugs excrete large amounts of honeydew, this is an excellent “growing soil” for a black fungus called sooty mold. Sooty mold is unattractive, and interferes with photosynthesis, it can also retard the growth of the plant. This can also make floors sticky.
Sooty mold usually whithers away after removing the mealybug.
Watch For Ants
Ants feed on the honeydew, when you find ants crawling around your indoor plants or observed making a nice trail from a plant. Take some time to examine your houseplants closely for these sucking pests.
Mealy bugs do well indoors – they love and live very well in warm, dry environments. They have a life cycle of about 30 days.
They normally call home and deposit their eggs where leaves join stems or along leaf veins, and their feeding will cause leaves to turn yellow and drop. Damaged plants look withered and may have a sticky sap on the leaves or stems.
Some of the indoor plants most commonly affected by mealy bugs include: African violets, aglaonema, Dracaenas, ferns, palms, ficus, pothos, philodendron, Norfolk Island pine, schefflera, jade plant and yucca.
As with scale an easy method of control is to apply alcohol with cottons swabs directly on the mealy bug. Wiping down the foliage regularly and helping plants clean will help keep mealy bugs in check.
If a plant becomes severely infested consider using safe natural organic neem oil to control the pest or make your own homemade insecticidal soap. Neem can be found at your local garden center. Always read the label and wear appropriate safety equipment when applying any chemical.
For heavy infestations of mealy bugs, try spraying directly on the insects a mixture of 10 percent rubbing alcohol and 90 percent water.
Repeat applications every week until the bugs are gone. Always test any insecticidal soap and alcohol mixtures on a small portion of the plant prior to full application as some plants may be sensitive to soap or alcohol.