Richard's Plant Care Tips: Mealy Bugs

Mealy bugs are tiny white cottony insects that belong to the Pseudococcidae family. They might look like little cotton balls or mildew, but don't be fooled. These tiny pests will suck the juices from your plants, weakening them and exposing them to potential illnesses. Mealy bugs excrete large amounts of honeydew, which in turn attract other pests, such as ants, that feed on the honeydew. If you notice ants or other pests on your plant, take a close look to see if mealy bugs are present.

Some of the indoor plants most commonly affected by mealybugs include:

African violets











Getting Rid of Mealy Bugs

An easy way to get rid of mealy bugs is to wipe them down with rubbing alcohol and a cotton swap. Keeping the leaves clean will help keep mealy bugs away.

If your mealy bug infestation gets out of control, you can use a natural, organic insecticide such as neem oil or you can mix your own insecticidal soap.

It is recommended to also spray the plant directly with a mixture of 10/90 rubbing alcohol and water on a weekly basis until the infestation has cleared.

You can also treat the plant systemically but adding small amounts of neem oil when watering your plant. You will need to follow the instructions for neem oil according to the packaging. Once the plant has absorbed the neem oil through the soil, the insects will naturally be deterred from feeding on the plant.

It is advised to test any insecticidal soap and alcohol mixtures on a small portion of the plant before applying to the entire plant. Some plants are more sensitive to certain soaps and to alcohols.

Quick and Easy Homemade Insecticidal Soap

mix one cup of oil, such as vegetable, peanut, corn, or soybean, with one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid or other natural soap.   Avoid any dishwashing liquids containing bleach or degreasers.

Mix two teaspoons of the mixture to every cup of warm water and put into a spray bottle.

Mix only what is needed for a one-day application.

Pest Prevention Tips:

1. Be diligent. Check your plants regularly for mealy bugs. It's easier to deal with a few mealy bugs than a full blown infestation!

2. Clean your plants on a regular basis. You can use an alcohol water mixture to prevent insects.

3. Keep your plant area clean of debris and dead plant matter.

4. If you see mealy bugs, act quickly! Don't let the problem grow.

5. Quarantine an infested plant until the problem has completely gone. Don't let the infestation affect your other plants.

Following these simple care tips will ensure that your plants never suffer severe damage from mealy infestations. Just remember, diligence is key!

Happy gardening.


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