How To Identify (and get rid of) Mealybugs
Mealybugs thrive in warm/hot conditions on indoor and outdoor plants alike and spread quickly from plant to plant. This is THE time of year you will find them on a variety of plants.
How do Mealybugs hurt my plants?
They suck juice from your plant and over time will cause leaf drop, stunted new growth, and eventually kill the plant. This pest’s waste causes mold growth on the plant which attracts other insects.
Kin to scale, they look like white fuzz on leaves or stems. The females lay up to 100 eggs in cotton-looking sacs you will see on the plant. The eggs will hatch in 6-14 days and the newly hatched mealys crawl to a spot on the plant, insert their “beak” into the plant and begin feeding.
How do I protect my plants?
1. Keep your plants healthy. A hungry, weak, or stressed plant is more susceptible to mealybug infestation.
2. Use a systemic insecticide as a preventative. By applying a systemic insecticide to your plant you are protecting it from future infestations. When a mealybug feeds on a plant that has been treated with a systemic insecticide it kills the mealybug. No eggs can be laid, your plant is protected.
3. Inspect your plants for Mealybugs, look for them at the juncture of the stems and on new growth
4. Spray your plant with an insecticide that kills mealybugs. This will require more than 1 treatment to make sure all have been killed.
5. Use both a systemic for long term, future protection along with an insecticide spray if you see mealybugs on your plant. This 2-prong approach will kill the bugs on the plant and prevent mealybugs and other pests from harming your plant.
6. On houseplants you can remove the individual Mealybugs with cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol. This would not be feasible for large infestations.
7. Organic methods include the use of insecticidal soaps, Neem oil and other natural techniques.
How do I know if the mealybugs are dead?
If the mealybug is alive it is gooey, if it flakes off it is dead.