How Do Mealybugs Spread? (a definitive guide)

How Do Mealybugs Spread? (a definitive guide)

Have you ever discovered something white like a cottony insect on your houseplants? If you think it is just a small piece of cotton, then you are completely wrong.

It is a living thing and known as “mealybug“. If you have discovered white, soft, round, and waxy insects on your plant, then it is in some serious trouble.

Mealybugs are really dangerous for your indoor as well as outdoor plants and cause a significant amount of damage.

If left unchecked, then it can eventually kill plants and cash crops. Sometimes they are hard to remove because they are really tiny and find secret spots in a plant to shelter. They mostly propagate in moist, warm climates and can be propagated by gardening tools and new plants.

This definitive guide will discuss the propagation of mealybugs, their hiding spots, and their impact on plants and crops. How can you discover the appearance of mealybugs? 

Mealybugs spread in multiple ways and their reproduction cycle is really quick. It is important to find the proper solution to getting rid of mealybugs.

These tiny white bugs can create a problem for your garden, orchids, cacti, or more. They attach to the plant stem, leaves, and even Soil sometimes. Let’s put light on the propagation of mealybugs.

Do Mealybugs Fly?

Yes, but only male adults. They can easily fly from plant to plant, which makes their propagation easy and quick.

But both males and females destroy plants equally, and the good thing is that you can apply the same prevention formula on both. They are experts at hiding in secret spots and locations such as roots, in crevices, and under pots.

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How do Mealybugs spread? (from plant to plant)

If you are reading this post, then it means you are really concerned about insects, especially mealybugs. They can destroy cash crops, gardens, and both indoor and outdoor plants. If you are a professional gardener, then you must understand how mealybugs spread from plant to plant.

Their growth is highly rapid and this article will help you a lot. We will also discuss some organic methods to control mealybugs. Scroll down to know how they enter your garden.

Basically, male mealybugs can fly because they have wings. But, female mealybugs are wingless and they produce eggs to uplift their population.

They suck plants’ juice and are mostly located under the leaves. Below, the six reasons will explain how mealybugs spread from one place to another.

Drenching Wet Climate: The origin of mealybugs is warm, moist weather. So, they love to stay in moisture. As a result, you will see mealybugs mostly in overwatered plants. They produce more eggs in a drenching wet climate while continuously sucking the plants’ juice.

So, if you are providing excess water to your outdoor plants, then it means you are allowing mealybugs to increase their population.

They suck the fluid of leaves and decrease the life of the plant. After some time, the leaves will turn curly and lifeless. In the case of over-fertilization, mealybugs also proliferate. Keep your plant in a dry, shaded area after removing mealybugs.

Here are the common ways Mealybugs spread:

1. Spread Through Soil in the form of Eggs:

When you remove mealybugs from the plant, you must pay attention to its Soil because their eggs can be present in it. So, when you place this kind of Soil or plant with other plants, they hatch and grow quickly. It is a major way of propagation of mealybugs.

They form their colonies in the Soil. They suck the sap from the roots and weaken the plant. So, it is suggested that we always use new Soil for planting. You can use the sterilization process for getting rid of mealybug eggs from the Soil.

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2. Transported by Ants:

As we know, mealybugs are tiny and slow-moving pests. In short, they can’t move much. They use ants for their transportation.

They travel through ants and spread easily. In this way, they spread from plant to plant. Mealybugs produce honeydew which is a wonderful food source for ants. As a result, they spread mealybugs from one place to another.

3. Through Air:

On average, mealybugs can harvest 60 to 90 eggs at a time. These eggs are incredibly lightweight and spread through air easily. It is the main reason for spreading mealybugs.

These eggs hatch during a couple of weeks which increases their population. That’s why outdoor plants are more susceptible to mealybugs.

4. Through Human:

You can’t see mealybug eggs even with naked eyes. So, when you work in your garden, these eggs might sit on your hand.

When you move, they spread everywhere. So, humans are one of the biggest sources of the propagation of mealybugs. When you take care of other plants, it means you are transporting these eggs from one place to another. While attending to other plants, you can wash your hands in order to avoid the mealybugs’ spread.

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5. Through New Plants:

When you purchase a new plant from a nursery store, check it thoroughly for mealybugs. If it is infected, then it can destroy other plants too. So, it is another source of propagation.

The environmental conditions of the new plant can also cause the risk of mealybugs. Use insecticide before introducing a new plant to your garden.

Life Cycle of Mealybugs:

Knowing the life cycle of mealybugs is really important, especially if you want to know how they spread. It also helps you to get rid of them effortlessly.

It starts from the egg stage and ends at the adult stage. They require a couple of weeks for hatching eggs and grow rapidly. So, if left unnoticed, then they can create big problems for your garden. Female mealybugs can produce 500 eggs in their cottony web that are attached to leaves or stems.

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Mealybugs can be Harmful for Plants:

As they suck the sap of the leaves, so they can create havoc. It is hard to notice the eggs and small bugs. You can identify them from their white color. They make your plants lifeless and also infect other plants. So, they are really dangerous for plants.

They can come from a variety of sources such as potting Soil, fresh produce, and other plants. They are present in both indoor and outdoor plants.

It originated from Egypt in 1920 and quickly spread to other countries. Overwatering and over-fertilization can welcome mealybugs because these conditions are really suitable for the growth of mealybugs.

Where to Catch Mealybugs?

Mealybugs are soft-bodied pests and look like small cotton pieces. They can infect any part of a plant, from stems to leaves. It is hard to detect one or two female mealybugs, but they are difficult to control once they start producing eggs.

You will see major growth in a couple of days and they can actually kill your plant or infest it. Some species of mealybugs can spread different viruses, but it is very rare. It is mostly happening in grapevine orchids.

They don’t sting or bite humans. But, touching or crushing them with bare hands can cause some kind of irritation or redness.

So, use gloves while touching mealybugs for maximum safety. Moreover, there are plenty of easy ways to kill or eliminate mealybugs that we have discussed below. These tactics are really helpful for stopping the propagation of mealybugs.

Mealybugs on Succulents:

Succulents are really gorgeous and ideal for increasing the level of any garden or orchid. Mealybugs are really destructive pests and can damage the overall beauty of your garden by attacking on succulents.

They can create problems for succulent owners as they find perfect hiding spots. They hide in the plant crevices and suck their sap, making them dead. The shape of the succulent is ideal for the hiding of mealybugs.

If you think your succulents are infested with mealybugs, then pruning is the ideal method. Do not overwater or over-fertilize your succulents during this period.

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Prevention of Mealybugs:

Before planting a new plant into your lawn, you should check the plant and Soil for mealybugs. They are good at hiding so check every part of the plant and pot.

Find hard-to-see areas because these spots are their favorite. Check everything from plants to Soil, gardening tools, fresh produce, and pots. Here are some useful tips for preventing mealybugs propagation.

  • It is hard to remove mealybugs from plants completely due to their tiny size and high population. But you can use different methods such as rubbing alcohol, neem oil spray, or insecticide.
  • If you are sure that your plant is infested, then change its location now and keep it away from other plants.
  • The most successful method of getting rid of mealybug is rubbing alcohol. Use 70% isopropyl and clean the stems and leaves with a cotton swab. You can also use the spray bottle method to prevent their growth.
  • High-powered water is another useful method. You can spray high-powered water on infested areas.
  • According to horticulture experts, you can use ladybugs for getting rid of mealybugs because they are a good source of food for ladybugs. You can also introduce beneficial insects for eliminating mealybugs.
  • Dish soap and insecticidal soap are also good for the prevention of mealybugs.
  • Pruning is another beneficial method for getting rid of infested branches and leaves.
  • If you think your plant is overly covered with mealybugs, then throwing away your plant is the final solution.


Mealybugs, tiny but troublesome pests, can wreak havoc in your garden. Our blog explores how these pests spread, offering insights into their life cycle and the potential risks they pose to your plants. Discover proactive measures to prevent mealybug infestations and effective methods for control. Arm yourself with knowledge to safeguard your plants and maintain a thriving garden. Read more at PlantGardener.

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This article shows that mealybugs can spread in multiple ways. But, it does not mean that they are difficult to kill.

With proper guidance and tips, you can successfully stop the propagation of mealybugs and can protect your plants or garden.

They love to hide in hard-to-reach and hard-to-see areas such as under the leaves and stems.

There are different species of mealybugs in the form of pink, olive green, white, and more colors. So, you can easily see mealybugs on your plants and can kill them effectively. 

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