Mealybugs are hard to get rid of once you have them. Early detection is the key to plant survival.
Severe infestations look like patches of cotton on the plant. During the feeding process, they excrete lots of wax (known as honeydew) and, if left on the plant, can lead to the growth of sooty mold. The excretion is used for protection while they suck the plant juices. It is also a place where they hide their eggs. It takes about ten days for the Eggs to hatch, producing crawlers or nymphs.
What To Look For
- Look for a fluffy white wax produced in the leaf axils or on the stems and branches of the plant.
- The plant will start to lose its vigor, and the leaves will turn yellow and eventually drop. As a result, it may the plant may be stunted or even killed.
The best control for mealybugs is defensive. Healthy, vigorous plants are less likely to be infested than the weak ones.
- Water - Works well in the early stages of infestation. Blast the bugs off with a steady stream. Repeat every day until they are gone.
- Insecticidal Soap - Follow instructions on the back of the bottle. This product is a contact spray, so bugs have to be present for it to work. Safe to use around pets and children.
- Bonide Neem Oil - Safe around pets and children. It can be sprayed on plants following directions on the back of the bottle. Bugs must be present for it to work.
- Bonide Systemic Houseplant Insect Control - This chemical gets soaked up into the plant, and if the bugs chew on the plant, they will die. The bottle says it can prevent bugs for up to two months. Just follow directions on the bottle for use. This product is not organic and needs to be kept out of the reach of children and pets.
- Throw Out Plant: If infestation is to the point of beyond control. Your best option is to pitch the plant into the garbage. Do not compost.
If left untreated, mealybugs will spread to other plants in the house.