Perhaps you've recently noticed cottony-looking insects on your plants. These annoying little pest are mealy bugs. Mealy bugs have piercing/sucking mouth parts which they use to suck the fluids from leaves and stems, robbing plants of essential nutrients in the process.
Mealy bug infestations leave a sticky waste residue known as Honeydew, if it's not removed from the plant a black fungus known as "sooty mold" will grow on the plant.
There are several different ways to remove mealybugs:
- If you see ladybugs nearby, pick them up gently and place them on your infected plants. Ladybugs will devour the mealybugs and their residue.
- Spray the plant with a steady stream of water until the bugs are washed away.
- Use alcohol on a cotton ball with a toothpick or commercial "Q" swab stick for mealybug control. Swab gently until all bugs and honeydew have been removed.
- Place the entire plant in the sink, tub or outside and spray it with water (high pressure) to wash all of the mealybugs off.
Spray Solutions to Treat Plants:
2 tablespoons of plain Liquid Castile Soap (such as Dr Bronners) and 2 Tbs of Vegetable Oil to 1 gallon of water.
Basic Soap Solution
Add 3 tablespoons of soap flakes to 1 gallon of water and mix well until dissolved, apply spray to the affected plant.
3rd Soap Solution
add 2 tablespoons of liquid dish detergent or baby shampoo to 1 gallon of water.
Create the soapy solution of your choice, we've listed them in order of preference. Spray the plant liberally, ensuring all the mealybugs are coated, but the plant should not be dripping. Also, avoid allowing the mixture to drip directly onto the soil of the affected houseplant.
How to Prevent Mealybug Infestations:
- Quarantine all new plants brought into the home for 10 days, keep them away from your current indoor plants and watch for any signs of infestation of any pests.
- Do not Over-water your plants, as this attracts mealy bugs and other pests.
Although mealy bugs are not known for "biting" people, be sure to wash your hands and clothing thoroughly after coming into contact with them as they can be irritating to the skin and also leave a nasty sticky residue behind that is difficult to remove from clothing.