How To Get Rid Of Mealybugs Effectively
Are you sick of seeing your plants die with an infestation? Do you want to know how to get rid of mealybugs? If yes, then you have come to the right place.
Mealybug infestation is the most common yet most terrifying problem that every gardener faces. The first onset of these bugs is slow, and it often goes unnoticed when one day you suddenly see a whole colony of mealybugs feeding on your plant.
Getting rid of mealybugs on plants can be a difficult task; however, it is not impossible. Below we have mentioned some effective mealybug treatment methods using homemade indoor plant bug spray and many others. These methods will make sure that these little devils never come back.
WHAT ARE MEALYBUGS?
Mealybugs are a type of scale insect that sucks the sap from stems and leaves of plants, which results in deformed or stunted growth, leaf drop, and yellowing of the leaves.
These small white bugs found on plants can be seen on new growth alongside the leaf veins and joints. Mealybug damage is not as devastating or quick as compared to spider mites on plants.
If you leave the mealybug infestation untreated, your plant may die slowly.
WHAT DO MEALYBUGS LOOK LIKE?
Mealybugs are small white bugs seen on plants and look like white fuzzy stuff on plant stems and leaves. Mealybugs usually occur in cream or brown color and look waxy in the initial stages.
At first glance, these don’t even look like an insect and are often mistaken for mildew and fungus rather than bugs. If you see small white bugs on plants that look similar to tiny flies when the plant is disturbed, these are mealybugs.
MEALYBUG LIFE CYCLE
The complete life cycle of a mealybug is about 7-10 weeks. The mealybug eggs hatch in 1-2 weeks into nymphs and then take 6-9 weeks to mature into adults. There are numerous generations of mealybugs, and the life cycle also overlaps. This means that once they start, the population grows rapidly.
Since the mealybug eggs and nymphs are very tiny, it takes some time for the population to become noticeable. People often do not discover mealybugs on the plants until their population explodes.
WHERE DO MEALYBUGS COME FROM?
Mealybugs are very tiny and super sneaky. One day your plant will look fine, and the next day you will see your plant covered with sticky white cotton-like things leaving you wondering where do mealybugs come from?
Some of the most common causes of mealybugs are:
- Getting a new houseplant
- Using contaminated soil for potting
- Keeping houseplants outdoors during summer.
- Fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers bought from the garden.
- Mealybugs on store-bought flowers and vegetables
- Ants carry mealybugs to eat the honeydew residue produced by these bugs.
HOW TO GET RID OF MEALYBUGS ON PLANTS?
Like any other houseplant pest infestation, start mealybug treatment as soon as you notice.
- The first and most important thing to do when you see mealybugs is to quarantine the plant from others so that the infestation does not spread.
- The next step in mealybug treatment is to kill them using organic pest control methods and products. Avoid using synthetic pesticides, as mealybugs are resistant to most chemical pesticides. They can even develop a resistance to any chemical they are regularly exposed to.
MEALYBUGS TREATMENTS ON PLANTS
- One best way to kill mealybugs is by using cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol and swapping all over them. Rubbing alcohol kills the bugs effectively when they come in direct contact.
- When you treat your plant for mealybugs, do not forget to take a look underneath the leaves, in folds, around leaf joints, and at the base of mealybugs. These pests like to hide; therefore, you need to check every angel and even underneath the leaves.
- Sometimes mealybugs also hide eggs in the soil, so make sure to dust off a little soil and check the stem’s base. Sometimes they even hide at the edges and bottom of the pot; therefore, inspect really well to find missing mealybugs.
You will have to do several mealybug treatments to get rid of all of them, so make sure to treat your plants every day and kill any bugs that you see.
MAKE YOUR OWN HOMEMADE MEALYBUG SPRAY
It is not very difficult to make your own indoor plant bug spray; you can also buy an organic bug spray from the market.
Anyways, one of my trusted recipe for indoor plant bug spray is
- 1 tsp Baby mild liquid soap
- 1-liter water
Mix these together and spray on your plant. The soap will kill mealybugs as soon as they come in contact.
If your plant is very small, you can bring it under the shower or sink to wash the leaves using soap and water solution and give it a good rinse. This method will kill a large population of mealybugs.
Always remember that certain types of soap can be harmful to sensitive plants. Therefore you must always test the solution on a few leaves before spraying on the entire plant.
Note:- insecticidal soaps do not have any long-term effect of preventing mealybugs from coming backs; therefore, you need to use the spray regularly to keep the bugs away.
MEALYBUG CONTROL USING NEEM OIL
Neem oil is a natural pest control product that gets rid of mealybugs on plants effectively. It will not only kill the bugs but will also work as a residual mealybug treatment.
You can easily find concentrated neem oil in the drugstore for cheap, and one big bottle will last a long time. Make sure to follow the instructions mentioned on the product label carefully.
Mix the neem oil concentrate with a little amount of soap to help oil and water mix. Spray the concoction on the affected plant covering all the mealybugs.
Even though neem oil leaves a residual effect to keep the mealybugs away from the plants, you will still have to redo several applications to get rid of them completely. It may take a few days for neem oil treatment to kill all the mealybugs. Be patient and continue using this mealybug treatment until all the bugs die.
LONG-TERM MEALYBUG CONTROL METHOD
Do you want to know how to get rid of mealybugs for a long time? It is not very easy to get rid of mealybugs completely in a short span of time, which makes the entire process very frustrating.
You cannot simply spray the solution once and wish for the bugs to disappear. Sometimes it takes weeks and months to get rid of mealybugs completely.
Below we have mentioned an effective long term mealybug treatment.
- As soon as you spot mealybugs on your plants, bring them to the sink, wash the stems, and leaves thoroughly with the soap water solution mentioned above. Then give the plant a good rinse.
- Inspect your pot from top to bottom, under the leaves, and along the soil line to see for hiding mealybugs. Wash the drip tray using soapy water properly.
- Now it is time to wash the area where your plant was kept using soapy water. Then use a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol to disinfect the entire area. If other plants were also kept nearby, inspect them too for any signs of mealybugs.
- After cleaning and disinfecting everything, spray neem oil on the plants and keep it away from other house plants.
- For the next few days, check for any signs of mealybugs every day and kill all of them using cotton balls dipped in rubbing alcohol.
- Spray neem oil on the plant again after a few days to kill any hiding bug.
- Check nearby plants, too, every day for any signs of bugs. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after touching the plants.
- If you do not notice any mealybugs after 3-4 weeks of inspection, keep the plant where it was originally.
HOW TO STOP MEALYBUGS FROM COMING BACK
It often seems that mealybugs do not move, but the truth is that mealybugs can crawl around the house onto other plants. The worst thing about mealybugs is that they can hide in the house’s crevices and spaces for a long time until they find a new host plant.
Therefore when you think you have finally won the war with the bug beast, they will come out of their hiding and re-attack your plants when you are not inspecting.
Fortunately, there are a few things that you can do to control mealybugs from attacking your plants ever again.
- Mealybugs live in the soil of the indoor plants, so if you see any signs of recurring infestation in any of the plants, try removing the top layer of the soil from the pot and replacing it with fresh new soil.
- Wash the pot’s inner rim after you remove the top layer of the potting soil using soapy water. You can also use cotton balls soaked in rubbing alcohol to disinfect the pot and kill any remaining bugs.
- Keep the infested plants away from any crevices where the mealybugs can crawl and hide. Always make sure to check the outer and inner edges of the tray and pot. Do not forget the buttons of the tray and pot to kill hiding mealybugs.
- Once the plant infestation is in control, move the plant to a new location to protect it from mealybugs that might be hiding in the old spot of the plant.
Mealybugs are the enemy of houseplants. Once they start building their population on the plants, it gets difficult to get rid of mealybugs. It is not possible to get rid of all the mealybugs in the first few tries.
In case you are successful in killing the adult mealybugs, their eggs and babies are so tiny that they can often get overlooked. The above-mentioned mealybug treatment methods are worth giving a try to save your plants.