How to Get Rid of Mealybugs Infestation on Your Plants

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If you start noticing the foliage of your plants have white spots or look like they have snow-like covering, it is a sign of mealybugs infestation. When left unattended, mealybugs will suck the sap leading to yellowing of the leaves and eventually dropping off. These pests are likely to affect various plants, including flowers, vegetables, and herbs. Luckily, it is possible to fight mealybugs infestation from your plants. Read to learn more about the common types of plants that mealybugs affect and how to get rid of them.

Species of plants Mostly Affected

There are wide varieties of houseplants that mealybugs mainly affect. Common culprits include jade plants, pothos, African violets, ferns species, philodendrons, hoya, Syngonium,  Dracaenas, Cacti, and succulents. 

The most common mealybug species that infest these plants are the citrus mealybug, the long-tailed mealybug, and the walnut mealybug.

Mealybugs love humid environments where temperatures are about 25°C. They are likely to multiply in spring and autumn.

How to Control Mealybugs

Mealybugs can be difficult to control because they produce a waxy substance resistant to many pesticides. However, you can help reduce the population of mealybugs on your plants:

  • If you find a few mealybugs on your plants, dip a cotton swab or toothbrush in alcohol and rub against the foliage of the infested plants. To avoid spreading the infestation, use a single cotton swab for every plant. 
  • If there is a big infestation, use horticultural oil or insecticidal soap. This soap helps in breaking down wax (from the mealybugs), exposing the outer shells of the insects, which dehydrates them, leading to their deaths. You can repeat this treatment after four days until the pests disappear. Be sure to read and follow the directions on the label carefully.
  • For severe infestations, use relevant chemical pesticides. Before using these chemical pesticides, be sure to read and follow the directions on the label carefully.
  • Do not place mealybug-infested plants in your compost pile because the oils in the bugs will attract other pests. And don’t toss infested plants into the trash, either, because mealybugs can survive for several days in a sealed plastic bag.

How to Prevent Mealybugs Infestation

Mealybugs can hide themselves during treatment and resurface when you least expect them. So, how can you prevent them from resurfacing after the treatment? By taking necessary precautions, which include;

  • Mealybugs can survive in the soil even after treating the plants. To control this, remove about an inch of the topsoil from the pot, wash the inner rim of the pot with soapy water and replace the old soil with fresh potting soil.
  • After treating your plants, move the planting container to a new location. Doing so will protect the plant from any mealybugs hiding in the last spot.
  • Introduce beneficial insects like ladybird beetles and lacewings that feed on mealybugs. Such insects will eat mealybugs and other pests on your plants.
  • Quarantine any new plants for like four weeks before mixing them with existing plants. Only mix them with other plants after ascertaining they are free from mealybugs and other pests.
  • Inspect your plants weekly to ensure no hidden infestations and take the necessary action to curb their spreading.

Conclusion

Mealybugs infestation on plants can be a nuisance. However, you can curb their infestation using the above techniques. Take note that mealybugs can turn out to be resistant to particular treatments. Ensure to alternate the treatments.

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