Mealybugs are small white bugs that mostly attack plants.
They have cottony and soft bodies. They suck the plant’s juice and damage the plant. They form a wax coating as a protective layer and are mostly found on visible stems and leaves.
The shape of adult male and adult female mealybugs is quite different. Adult male mealybugs are small and double-winged while adult female mealybugs are wingless. They can be found on every houseplant. A female mealybug can lay up to 300 eggs in its cottony web.
They target every area of plant above the soil. As they are small in shape, they can cause major damage to many houseplants. Fortunately, there are several simple and useful methods of killing mealybugs.
There is no need to panic if you see mealybugs on your plants. It’s a common question ‘how to kill mealybugs’ and we are here to discuss some useful methods that help to get rid of mealybugs.
There are so many chemical and natural solutions that you can use to kill mealybugs.
Insecticides are one of the easiest methods to kill mealybugs and other insects. In this article, we will focus on some useful methods of killing mealybugs.
Different Species of Mealybug:
Mealybugs do have other shades such as cream or brown on the basis of the species. There are some other species in the form of yellow, pink, and olive green.
So, when you inspect your garden for mealybugs then also check these colors along with white. They contain waxy substances when they are born but this waxy coat will vanish as they grow.
If you are feeling terrified then fret not because it is really simple to vanish mealybugs with simple methods as we have discussed below.
You can easily identify the appearance of a mealybug with naked eye.
How to kill mealybugs
The most effective and less expensive method of killing mealybugs is with the rubbing of alcohol. It is a safe method for your plant too. We will discuss some important things that you must consider while using this method.
Method 01 – Killing Mealybugs with Alcohol:
i). Dip a Cotton Ball in 70% Isopropyl:
First of all, figuring out which alcohol is safe for your plant can be challenging. You can choose 70% isopropyl because it is safe for your plant.
Do not use other types of alcohol because they can cause significant damage. Other types of alcohol could damage your beautiful plants and they can eventually die. Take a small cotton ball and dip it in 70% isopropyl.
ii). Rub the Cotton Ball Over the Infected Area:
It is crucial to rub every infected stem and both sides of leaves with a dipped cotton ball.
Mealybugs make permanent spots on hard-to-reach areas, so rub the cotton ball on every part of the stem, leaves, and other parts of the plant. Rubbing alcohol dipped cotton swabs will easily help to get rid of mealybugs.
iii). Apply Rubbing Alcohol with a Spray Bottle:
For large plants, it is hard and tiring to cover every part with a cotton swab. So, you can use a spray bottle method. Fill a spray bottle with rubbing alcohol and completely spray it on the plant especially on infested parts.
iv). Catching Mealybugs with Hand:
Some mealybugs are large enough that you can easily see. Catching mealybugs with your hand is another effortless method. Pick them and dispose of them. They don’t bite but we recommend using gardening gloves in order to protect your hand from waxy coating.
v). Repeat the Process Weekly:
If your plant is under attack by mealybugs, then you can use the above process weekly until they are gone.
Mealybugs are really good at hiding in difficult spots, so you can use a rubbing alcohol method or spray method on a weekly basis.
If you don’t see any sign of mealybugs, then repeat the process one or two more times to ensure that mealybugs are gone. If your plant is growing healthy then it is a clear sign that you have successfully killed mealybugs.
Other Ways to Kill Mealybugs:
Rubbing alcohol is such a simple method, but you can try some other useful methods as given,
Method 02 – Using Neem Oil for Killing Mealybugs:
i). Use a Spray Bottle and Mix Neem Oil, Water, and Liquid Dish Soap in it:
You can easily prepare a solution at home for killing mealybugs. Take a spray bottle and mix together 1 tablespoon of neem oil, water, and 2 to 3 drops of liquid dish soap.
Neem oil is such a good oil for killing mealybugs on plants and it is extracted from neem trees. If you don’t have neem oil, then you can use ginger oil for killing mealybugs.
ii). Spray the Infected Plant:
The solution is prepared and sprays it gently on all over the plant thoroughly. Don’t forget the underneath area of the leaves. Also spray this mixture over the surface of the soil and even the pot. It is a really effortless method to get rid of mealybugs.
iii). Change the Location of the Plant:
After spraying the neem oil mixture, move the pot to the dry and shaded area because sunlight could damage dry leaves. It can face the sunburn effect if you place it in direct sunlight. So, an indoor or shaded area is best for your plant.
iv). Spray the Plant on Weekly Basis:
In order to ensure that mealybugs are completely gone, we suggest you spray neem oil mixture on a weekly basis.
Using neem oil spray once won’t kill all mealybugs. It is because of the rapid growth or lifecycle of mealybugs. It prevents your plant from newly hatched mealybugs.
Method 03 – Using Insecticide for Killing Mealybugs:
i). Cut the Infected Branches before Applying Insecticide:
Before applying an insecticide on your infested houseplant, cut off the infected branches and leaves. Remove those branches that are completely covered with mealybugs or wax.
This process helps to get rid of a significant amount of mealybugs and it strengthens your plant for bearing the impact of an insecticide.
In this way, mealybugs find no shelter and eventually die with the effect of insecticide.
ii). Consider an Insecticide Formulated for Ornamental Plants:
If you don’t know which insecticide is good for houseplant, then check the label before grabbing an insecticide. If it has the label of ornamental insecticide then it is good for killing mealybugs.
Other insecticides could damage your plants. Diazinon, acephate, carbaryl, and malathion are some best ornamental insecticides.
iii). Spray the Plant Regularly with the Insecticide:
In order to get rid of mealybugs completely, spray the plant with the help of a spray bottle. Spray insecticide on leaves, branches, and soil. For getting the best and effective result, read the spraying instructions on the insecticide bottle.
iv). Be consistent:
You can spray your infested plant weekly or daily according to the condition. You can read usage instructions on insecticide bottles. If you see some improvement in the growth of your plant, then stop spraying insecticide.
Method 04 – Stopping Mealybug Invasions:
i). Check New Plants before Introducing Them to Your Lawn:
If you have successfully killed all the mealybugs on your plant, then we suggest you check new plants before introducing them to your orchid or garden.
You can easily detect the appearance of mealybugs by finding white, round, and wax-covered insects.
Don’t introduce infested plants to your garden because they could damage all your plants. They spread quickly from one plant to another.
ii). Check Your Plants Regularly for Mealybugs:
If your garden or lawn is slightly big, then you have to be careful. Check your garden and plants regularly for mealybugs or other insects. If you see any mealybug, then you can remove it by hand. I
n order to avoid the extent of mealybugs, cut off the branches or leaves that are heavily infested with mealybugs.
iii). Do Not Use Mealybug Infested Garden Tools:
Mealybugs can be found on gardening tools, so if you discover mealybugs on these tools then don’t use them. It is another major reason for the growth of mealybugs and they wreak havoc in your garden.
iv). Don’t Use Nitrogen Fertilizer:
Fertilization is an important step for the better growth of the plants. If your plant is infested with mealybugs, then avoid using nitrogen fertilizer because it increases the reproduction process of mealybugs. Using a non-nitrogen fertilizer is the best option which helps to keep mealybugs at bay.
How do Mealybugs spread?
They move from one plant to another in the form of vectors. They hatch within hours and spread in so many ways. They can spread rapidly from plant to plant, gardening tools, and migration methods. Using infested garden tools is another reason for spreading mealybugs.
Adult males can fly which makes it easy to spread. Their reproduction cycle is really rapid and they can cover all your plants so quickly.
Crops Mealybugs Eat or Attack:
Nearly every crop is susceptible to mealybugs but some crops or plants are their favorite such as,
- Citrus and many more
Are Mealybugs bad to have?
Yes, they are really destructive for plants and crops. Many countries suffered from this destructive pest and faced production loss.
Not only farmers, the economic conditions are also in danger due to this pest. They destroy crops, palms, succulents, orchids, and cacti. They can infest both indoor and outdoor plants including soil, kitchen pantry, and plant roots.
Are mealybugs hazardous for plants?
Yes, they are. They are really hazardous for plants and destroy cash crops.
These crops and plants are a food source for them and you can’t ignore them. It is crucial to get rid of mealybugs as soon as possible if your plants or crops are infested with mealybugs.
They can eventually kill your plants. On the other hand, they are not harmful for humans as they don’t sting or bite. If you crush them they will make a nasty stain on your hand. So, you can easily crush mealybugs with your hands.
We recommend you to wear gardening gloves. Some mealybugs can spread viruses or bacteria.
By following the above four methods, you can easily get rid of mealybugs without hurting your plant. Both chemical and non-chemical methods offer sufficient control.