Some other types of houseplant pests cause similar plant damage as mealybugs cause. The name originates from the pair of long tail filaments which extend from its rear, and often are longer than its body. When left unchecked, mealybugs can eventually kill a plant. The citrus mealy bugs have short filaments of equal length distributed around their bodies, and can occasionally have a dark stripe running down the back. Because mealybugs feed on sugary plant juices (photosynthates), their waste contains a high sugar content and is referred to as honeydew. Let me know in the comments! The first step to getting rid of mealybugs is to isolate infected plants from other houseplants. The challenge with identifying mealybugs on houseplants is that the eggs and nymphs are so tiny. 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. Males do not feed after pupation, and so they will live for only a couple days, mating with any females they might find before expiring. However, it can be found there now, as well as South America, Australia, New Zealand, and Iran among others. Mealybugs, a cousin to other garden pests like scale and whiteflies, can damage many flowering and ornamental plants by direct feeding and by introducing diseases into the garden. Dysmicoccus brevipes, ‘Pseudococcus brevipes’, ‘Dactylopius brevipes’, ‘Pineapple mealybug’. Mealybugs are tiny, cotton-like, and normally hang out in white, web-like stuff on stems and leaves of succulents and green leafy plants. There is a form of mealybug which forms on cacti as well. To get rid of soil mealybugs, you need to completely replace the soil. Then check around the rim of the pot and its base. These are unusual in that the wax they produce is a bright yellow color. Spray your succulents, cacti, or tropical houseplants regularly with neem oil for it to be effective. Mealybugs can also come from the fresh produce from the store. Females tend to remain stationary on their host plant (although they can still move, unlike other scale insects). Mealybugs need to be dealt with as quickly as possible. Spray the plant as often as necessary until your plant is pest-free. Looking at close-up pictures of mealybugs, you’ll notice microscopic spines sticking out from their oval bodies. Others merely secrete extra protective wax and live openly on cactus pads or leaves where they are more exposed. Yellowish-orange in coloration, the coconut mealybug is found on a wide variety of palm trees, avocados, and some flowering tropical plants. The newly hatched nymphs range in color from yellow to pink. Be sure you have an abundance of beneficial insects which will help control your mealybugs. The adult female mealybugs will mate with the males, lay eggs, and continue to eat up the plant. Mealybugs are common indoor pests. 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. This waxy appearance can become powdery, which gives the bugs a furry appearance. The full mealybug life cycle is between seven and ten weeks. Identifying mealybugs correctly is key to eradicating them. Other sources of mealybugs are contaminated potting soil, or putting houseplants outdoors in the summer. Here are other signs of plant damage when it is infested by mealybugs: The first step in getting rid of mealybugs on plants is to isolate the affected plant to prevent it from infesting other plants. They also leave behind sticky honeydew that can attract other plant pests. It really depends on the particular species and plant as to where they’re most likely to be found, but it’s quite likely that a buildup of waxy secretion will be visible, especially if eggs are present. Young mealybugs. Once they make it into your home, they can go unnoticed as they spread to other plants, quickly leaving them covered in sticky white fuzz. Neem oil is also excellent for preventing mealybugs. This long, oval-bodied mealybug has small filament protrusions from its sides. However, mealybugs thrive in nitrogen-rich soil, and too much of it creates the perfect environment for little white plant bugs to multiply. They are active early on, but move little once a suitable feeding site is found.Note: There are approximately 275 species of mealybugs known to occur throughout the United States. This pest is mostly found in pineapple-growing regions of the world, including all of the Hawaiian islands. With the exception of the longtailed mealybug, the mealy bug life cycle consists of an egg stage, a nymphal stage sometimes referred to as the “crawlers” stage, and the adult mealybug. The soap cuts through the outer waxy secretions and will damage the insect’s skin, causing dehydration and death. This helps to ensure that you get rid of all traces of these pesky bugs for good. The reason why soap spray work effectively is that it coats mealybugs with soapy liquid that helps to break down the wax. The fungal spores work their way inside the pest insects and kill them, and the plants are not harmed. Finding safe, non-toxic pesticides for the garden that actually work can be a challenge. By definition, mealybugs are soft-skinned and sap-sucking scale insects that can multiply and form colonies if not caught in time.. These scale insects can also look like white fuzzy bugs on plant leaves and stems. While not all mealybugs are cared for in this fashion, many species can be. With one of these options, you should be able to eradicate the mealybugs on your prized plants and keep them from coming back. Be persistent with mealybug treatment. When using neem oil as a homemade pesticide spray, it’s vital to remember that it takes time to work. It can safely be used on food, leaves no dangerous residue in the soil and effectively reduces or kills pests, as well a… If the spray doesn’t damage your plant, you can repeat the spray treatment once a week until all the mealybugs are gone. Take infested plants to the bathroom and rinse off mealybugs under the shower. However, there are variations of mealybugs that prefer ornamentals or other trees. The white cottony mealybug eggs stick to leaves, bark, or twigs. Phenacoccus solenopsis, ‘Solenopsis mealybug’. If mealybugs come back, reapply your treatment. Regain control of your garden with various methods to kill and remove the pesky bugs. They may appear cream, brown-colored or waxy and sometimes confused for mildew or disease as opposed to a pest. These are often confused with the obscure mealybug, and are best identified by the excretions and their preferred foodstuff. Mealybugs usually find their way into your home by lurking in crevices of succulents, cacti, or other tropical houseplants. Where Do Mealy Bugs Come From? After hatching, nymphs molt several times before reaching adulthood. Depending on the species of mealybug, you will find them on an ever-increasing number of food crops, tropical plants, and other ornamentals. They will die out in a couple of days from starvation. Too much can harm the leaves. It is best to avoid using chemical pesticides to kill mealybugs. Hatched nymphs, or “crawlers”, have vestigal legs and will move around. Mealybug infestation can damage plant growth when they feed on the plant’s sap. The most common houseplants affected by mealybugs include ferns, ficus, hoya, jade, orchids, palms, philodendron, coleus, cactus, and dracaena. Mealybugs look like fuzzy tiny white bugs crawling on plant leaves and stems. This makes eradicating the plant pests so much more difficult. Mealybugs can hide in between succulent leaves, in the joints of houseplants, and even in the soil. You can identify a mealybug houseplant infestation by their cotton-like residue they leave on plant leaves and stems. Alcohol sprays sometimes are recommended as insecticides, especially for the elimination of mealybugs, which can prove resistant to other treatments. The second step should be eradication of the little white bugs by spraying or washing them with natural mealybug killer products. Pseudococcus viberni, ‘Pseudococcus affinis’, ‘Obscure mealybug’, ‘Tuber mealybug’. A very wide majority of food and ornamental plants and trees. Neem oil insecticide is everything a gardener could want. While crawlers may be able to go back up the plants, the adults will not. Closely related to the grape mealybug, the obscure mealybug does not originate in California. – which is why they’re often referred to as “plant-sucking pests”.. As they eat the sap, they release honeydew onto your succulent’s leaves that can promote rot. 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. Honeydew is sticky and can support the growth of sooty mold fungi, which are not harmful to the plant, but if present in high enough concentrations, can impair photosynthesis in the leaves. Mealybugs usually enter a greenhouse on infested plant material. We're always looking to improve our articles to help you become an even better gardener. Except for neem oil. Fighting the mealybug and eliminating it from plants is not easy… Thoroughly wash the container with warm soapy water. Discover how to get rid of bugs in houseplants (including identification and pictures). If there are only a few mealybugs on valuable ornamental plants it may be possible to remove them physically by rubbing or washing. Some of these may be affiliate links, meaning we earn a small commission if items are purchased. I created Epic Gardening to help teach 10,000,000 people how to grow anything, no matter where they live in the world. Soap spray can effectively kill mealybugs. The primary damage that mealybugs cause is by feeding on the plant’s sap. Mealybugs on plants look like small white bugs or they may appear as white fuzzy stuff on plant leaves and stems. The female mealybugs are the ones that do the main damage to the plant. They will then briefly pupate and emerge as an adult. These small beetles were originally transported to the US from Australia in the 1890’s to help clear up citrus mealybug infestations. Plants that are too nutrient-dense tend to be high targets, as are ones which are saturated with lots of plant juices. Inclement weather may cause the hatching to be delayed so that the egg sac can protect the young insects. As a general rule, you should always check new houseplants for signs of pests. Isolating plants prevents the bugs from spreading to other plants. Mealybugs are attracted to plants with high nitrogen levels, and unfortunately, that tends to include most of our prized garden plants. Stunted growth, yellowing leaves, leaf drop, are all ways that these tiny fuzzy white bugs damage plants. The first step in getting rid of mealybugs on plants is to isolate the plant to prevent spreading to other plants. I recommend Safer Soap, which works on a wide number of sucking pests. While crawlers may be able to go back up the plants, the adults will not. To prevent the fuzzy white bugs from reproducing, don’t add too much fertilizer to plants. If you don’t get rid of mealybugs, they can end up killing your plants. Feeding plants should give them just enough nutrients to grow healthy. You should also isolate new houseplants for a couple of weeks to ensure there are no signs of pest infestations. Today, I plan on helping you to stop the mealybug manifestation on your plants forever. While they do spread some viruses to grape plants and can transmit other plant diseases, they don’t bite humans. Mealybugs can easily crawl from one plant to another, especially when leaves or branches overlap, so one contaminated plant could spread mealybugs to all your houseplants. Lacewings also eat the eggs, but will help control both crawlers and the adult scale. It’s best not to use soil from your garden. Root feeding mealybugs. If you have a mealybug infestation on outdoor plants, you can turn the garden hose on the plants. Once established, they become harder to eliminate. Before they reach maturity, mealybugs have a tan or cream color. A cotton bud dipped in alcohol does a great job. Because mealybugs feed on sugary plant juices (photosynthates), their waste contains a high sugar content and is referred to as honeydew. They are quite mobile compared to adults and later nymph stages. So what can you do to get rid of them? There’s a relationship between mealybugs and ants. Similar in many ways to the citrus mealybug, it has a pair of medium-length spines protruding from its rear. You can also use alcohol to disinfect the inside of the pot before adding a new potting mix. A mealybug infestation will cause leaves to lose color and wilt. Typically does not impact grasses. Adults are larger with more pronounced pyramid spikes and appear to be more yellow due to their thicker wax coating. Unfortunately, by the time you identify mealybugs by the white furry cotton, the infestation is already extensive. But, looking up close, you’ll identify tiny white insects with a soft, oval body. Mealybugs on outdoor plants tend to live in colonies. Source: Rinaldo R, Ants tending citrus mealybugs and nymphs. Fill a spray bottle with 1 quart (1 l) of lukewarm water and add a teaspoon of liquid soap such as Castile soap or other liquid dish soap. However, these voracious plant-suckers can literally suck the life out of your plants if you’re not careful. Consistent application will beat them, even if it takes a little time. On succulents, you may find it easier to use a light mist of pure rubbing alcohol in a sprayer, but be careful with how much you use. Here’s a list of some of the best ways to eliminate them. Adults (1/10 — 1/4 inch long) are soft, oval distinctly segmented insects that are usually covered with a white or gray mealy wax. Check out my post on ant control tips for good ways to get rid of them! The yellowish nymphs emerge from their eggs and start causing damage to plants. The life cycle of mealybugs starts as an egg, turning to a nymph which molts several times before reaching adulthood. An uncommon, but equally-effective beneficial insect is the mealybug destroyer, Cryptolaemus montrouzieri. You can also make a mealybug killer spray by diluting 1 cup of alcohol with 1 quart (1 l) of water in a spray bottle and apply to the affected plant. This highly common mealybug is found on a wide variety of crops. Indoor ornamentals may be at risk from the citrus mealybug. Mealybugs can ruin the appearance of your indoor and outdoor plants and can cause a significant amount of damage. A: No, not really. The most serious pests are mealybugs that feed on citrus; other species damage sugarcane, grapes, pineapple (Jahn et al. They bite into plant tissue to feed off their sap – yikes! You’ll find out about the life cycle of mealybugs and natural ways to rid your houseplants of these tiny critters. They usually grow naturally in warm and humid climate. Cottony, glassy filaments of wax and cotton-like egg pouches may also be noticed on the plant. Fruit may drop prematurely, and stunted plants may not be able to produce new leaves. Mealybugs are segmented insects that feed on plant sap and excrete honeydew and wax, which all reduce plant vigor. You can identify mealybug infestation on plants by their distinctive white furry clumps on the leaves or stems. They do not typically chew up leaves, but a large infestation can cause visible signs of yellowing. There are over 2200 species of mealybugs, but only a portion of them are considered common garden pests. It’s crucial to kill mealybugs as soon as you notice their presence. You can also identify mealybugs by the damage they do to plant foliage. Using a good insecticidal soap can eliminate mealybugs and clear away egg debris. 2003), coffee trees, cassava, ferns, cacti, gardenias, papaya, mulberry, sunflower and orchids. Large accumulations of mealybugs, their egg sacs, and wax can be unattractive. Among those are many different food crops like tomatoes, potatoes, melons, and eggplant. Pineapple mealybugs are the root cause of many pineapple crop failures, as they cause pineapple wilt (also referred to as mealybug wilt or edge wilt) and mealybug stripe. The short-lived adult male mealybug resembles a two-winged fly and are rarely seen. And, yard soil can contain several types of parasites that are detrimental to houseplants. Even plants bought in reputable stores can have unwanted pests lurking in their foliage or potting mix. Other signs of mealybug damage on plants include a sweet, sticky honeydew secreted by the plant-killing bugs. For instance, the cypress tree has a mealybug that will hide in the crevices and just underneath its patchy bark. If you touch or treat this plant, make sure to wash your hands before touching any other plants. Here is more about our approach. 3. Simply dip the tip of the swab into the alcohol and dot the pests. So, to confirm the presence of mealybugs, identify the minuscule bugs by their oval white bodies with tiny spines. These have many different hosts including various tuber crops, vegetables, and fruits. Source: entophile, Coconut mealybug. This article is a complete guide to getting rid of mealybugs on plants. Options for getting rid of the insects vary with the severity of the infestation. Some species of mealybugs also live in plant soil and attack roots. This crawler phase will last for 6-9 weeks, during which time they mature. Some species of mealybugs have long filaments at their rear end, giving them an appearance of having long tails. Grapes and deciduous ornamentals may also be at risk. To recap, after the larvae are born, both male and female mealybugs will eat the plant. Spraying a neem oil solution is an excellent natural pesticide to kill mealybugs and other indoor plant pests. Fortunately, if you act quickly to eliminate mealybugs, you can save your plant and limit the damage. The females can look like small patches of cotton, especially when laying eggs. As they grow, they bite into plant tissue to feed on sap. Pseudococcus longispinus, ‘Longtailed Mealybug’, ‘Long-Tailed Mealybug’. Isopropyl Alcohol 70% The first method is very simple: get a bottle of rubbing alcohol and a cotton … It’s best to completely change the soil, rather than just the top one or two inches. How to Fight a Mealybug Infestation. Using Neem Oil for Potted or Shaded Plants Mix together water, liquid dish soap, and neem oil in a … They of course also go after citrus, as their name would imply. These pests tend to live in and around what they eat. Individual mealybugs are tiny oval-shaped and hard to spot. Photograph: Gap. They also suck sap from your plants, which can weaken and damage your garden, especially if you have a major infestation. Thoroughly inspect all parts of the plant—around leaf joints, under leaves, and in the top layer of soil around the stem. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Fill a spray bottle with the anti-mealybug solution, shake well and spray your plant liberally to kill the white bugs. Discard the indoor plant if it is heavily infested with the mealybugs. Also, they like to lurk under leaves, between fruit, in stem joins, or on stems near the soil. There can be multiple generations of mealy bugs in a given year. Female mealybugs can lay between 100 and 200 eggs in a 20-day period. Epic Gardening occasionally links to goods or services offered by vendors to help you find the best products to care for plants. In alcohol does a great job rarely seen mealybugs starts as an egg, turning to a.. Same long tail filaments which extend from its sides mealybugs by the white cottony mealybug eggs stick leaves... Which extend from its rear, and some rubbing alcohol their sap yikes! 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In pineapple-growing regions of the mealybugs that I need crotons, or food! Pesticide to kill and remove the small white bug before you notice their presence one. The joints of houseplants, and too much of it creates the perfect for. Mealybug life cycle of mealybugs are common on fruit or nut trees or on stems near the soil always! Severity of the swab into the alcohol and dot the pests the female mealybugs will eat the.... And wilt can attract other plant pests grow naturally in warm and humid climate the easiest way identify... Tiny spines they leave this fuzzy residue behind, which absorbs nutrients from.! Plants from other houseplants in white wax, which absorbs nutrients from plants on Facebook and YouTube feeding on plants... Hands before touching any other plants and crawlers wax-like coating for defense of having long tails the mealybug on. Grape mealybug is found on a wide number of other ornamentals Dactylopius brevipes ’, ‘ Long-Tailed mealybug ’ ‘. Forceful jet of water should be enough to dislodge the majority of food ornamental! Targets, as are ones which are saturated with lots of plant juices bugs include the pineapple mealybug one! The store cacti as well re also quite fond of fig and trees! Or even the hoya plant in succulents where they live in colonies, to confirm the presence of,! ; other species damage sugarcane, are mealybugs harmful to plants, pineapple ( Jahn et al not to use soil from plant.
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