Spotted some mealybugs on your plant? These white, cottony bugs can cause considerable damage your beloved plants, but are also fairly easy to get rid of. Read everything about the mealybug and how to control an infestation!
How to spot mealybugs
Mealy bugs are white insects that can be found on both indoor and outdoor plants. They will mostly reside on the green and woody parts of plants. Here the bug spreads a sort of cottony thread mass around it, in which it lays its eggs. As a result, the bug itself is often difficult to distinquish from the cottony mass. Nevertheless, the insect is easy to spot because of its color, the white mass and its length of 3-6 mm. In addition to laying eggs, the mealybug uses plants as food. The animal sucks out the sap from the plant, weakening it.
The negative effects on your plant
- Reduced growth
- Deformation: the plant grows in a strange shape
- Yellowing leaves and / or leaf loss
- Any flowers or fruits fall off
- On the honeydew that the mealybug secretes, sooty mold may develop. This can pollute the plant and reduce photosynthesis.
How to get rid of mealybugs
There are numerous ways to get rid of mealybugs. You might buy special chemical pesticides, or get help from natural enemies – such as the ladybug. These methods are certainly effective, but also pricey or impractical. Certainly in the early stages, the mealybugs are fairly easy to combat with simple supplies.
Controlling a mealybug infestation with water is – especially in the early stages – quite easy. Make sure you use a powerful plant spray to spray the plant’s lice and eggs. Repeat this treatment daily until all white bugs have disappeared from the plant.
Using rubbing alcohol
Rubbing alcohol is an effective means to get rid of mealybugs. Put a little alcohol on a cloth or cotton bud and simply press it onto all white bugs or particles. Make sure you repeat this every day until all the bugs and eggs are gone. Another effective method is to mix one part rubbing alcohol and 9 parts water in a water spray. Spray the plant with this mixture on a daily basis, until the infestation is under control. However, not all plants can be damaged by the alcohol. So if you’d like to apply this method, we recommend first trying it on one of the leaves. If there is no damage after 24-48 hours, you can proceed to spray the entire plant with the mixture. Good to know: succulents will surely not be damaged by the alcohol!
Using a pruner
Is the mealybug infestation restricted to a small part of the plant, that you would’t mind to loose? Then you can simply cut this part away with a pruner.
Whichever method of infestation control you choose, make sure you keep a close eye on the plant. It might be the case that after 3 days treating the plant with rubbing alcohol, the mealybugs seem to be gone. There’s a good chance you got rid of them. But there is always a chance that you have missed a small egg. So be sure to check your plant weekly for the next month, to check if the mealybugs have returned. If so, repeat the treatment.
Prevent a mealybug infestation
The best thing to do in order to prevent an infestation, is not to place your plants in a draughty spot. Mealybugs can be carrried along in the draft, and grab hold of a plant along the way. We also recommend regularly checking your plants. This way you’ll able to get rid of mealybugs as soon as they appear.
Do you have any more questions? Please don’t hesitate to contact us!