You finished your garden, you are super satisfied with your houseplants and suddenly you see that the leaves of your plants are deforming and they get brown edges. You take a closer look at the damage and you see… a mealybug. Help! What now?
The mealybug is a hard-to-control aphid that is characterized by the wool-like secretion that it leaves on plants. This bug belongs to the family of the scale insects, but unlike the rest of the scaled insects, they do not have a shell. They are about 3 to 6 mm long and are found almost all over the world. They can survive temperatures as low as -40 degrees, which makes them very difficult to control. In the spring and summer, they lay eggs, up to hundreds at a time. Because of this enormous propagation wave, mealybugs are often a pest.
The plants that suffer from this aphid lose their vigor. They also get yellow leaves and you see that the leaves are deformed. Often the affected plant also loses leaves.
In addition to the direct damage of the mealybugs, they also excrete so-called honeydew. This honeydew is a perfect breeding ground for fungi. These fungi in turn ensure that the leaves of the affected plant absorb less sunlight, thus decreasing the possibility of photosynthesis.
How to get rid of mealybugs
It is important to control the mealybug as soon as you discover it. If you just leave them around, they will spread to other plants in your home or garden.
Mealybugs can be controlled with a special spray. You can buy this spray ready-made or as a concentrate that you have to prepare.
Spray all leaves, both bottom, and top with the spray. Don’t forget to treat the stem or trunk of the plant as well. It is important to spray everything thoroughly because the spray is a contact agent. The spray is effective against stubborn insects such as mealybugs, and scale insects, and is safe for the environment, humans, and pets. You can therefore use this spray safely in the garden.
You can also fight mealy bugs biologically. This can include lacewings. At a specialized store, you can order the larvae of these animals online. The larvae are supplied in a tube and with this tube, you can easily spread the larvae over the affected plants. Follow the instructions you get in the store about how many larvae you need per plant, shrub, tree, hedge.
In addition to spray or biological control, there are also many home remedies effective against mealybugs.
Mix 50% methylated spirits with 50% water and put this in a plant sprayer. Spray the affected plant thoroughly with this mixture and repeat every day until the mealybugs are gone.
Get rid of mealybugs with water
You can also control the mealybugs with a high-pressure sprayer using only water. Spray the bug with a high-pressure cleaner. Unfortunately, this method is only suitable for wood, leaves are obviously not happy with a high-pressure cleaner. For plants with stronger leaves, you can try to remove the aphids with a powerful plant spray with water. You can also repeat this every day until the bug is gone.
Destroy mealybugs with washing-up liquid
I have not tried this myself, but mealybugs can also be controlled with washing-up liquid. Dishwashing liquid is not toxic to plants, but it is poisonous to mealybugs and other pests. Mix dish soap with water, a cap of dish soap is enough and put this in a plant sprayer. Spray the affected plant completely until the plant is thoroughly wet. Don’t forget the stem. Repeat this method daily until the bugs are gone.
Control Mealybugs with vinegar
Have you used the water method? But do you continue to suffer from the annoying mealybug? Then dilute your water with vinegar. This is effective against aphids and not harmful to the plant.
Types of mealybugs
There are different varieties of the mealybug.
- Citrus mealybug
This most famous variant. This citrus mealybug lives for about 40 days at a temperature of 22 degrees and lays 100 eggs at a time. The eggs hatch within two weeks.
- Long-tailed mealybug
The long-tailed mealybug mainly occurs in humid environments, such as greenhouses, and likes to live in the armpits of a plant.
Mealybugs’ favorite garden plants
Below you will find some of the mealybug’s favorite garden plants.
Are there mealy bugs in your hydrangea? First, check where the bug exactly is. Is the infection still small? Remove the leaves that have a lot of mealybugs on them. And kill the single bugs on other leaves manually. So, put on your gloves and check. After doing this, it is wise to check your hydrangea a few times and kill the last bugs you missed one more time. Repeat this until you no longer see mealybugs.
In principle, an olive tree is not susceptible to diseases, but the mealybug can occur on an olive tree. The best method to control mealybugs on the olive tree is to use a spray. Spray both sides of the leaves thoroughly and repeat this after a week. You can then get rid of your mealybugs in no time.
The apple tree is not a favorite of the mealybugs, you may be bothered by the woolly red mite. This mite is known to like to eat apple trees, it is also called the apple aphid. You can combat this woolly red mite with ladybugs, parasitic wasps, lacewings, and earwigs.
In the banana plant, the honeydew is initially noticeable. This indicates the presence of a bug. Check your banana plant properly and treat the infestation with a spray.
Does your beech hedge suffer from mealybugs? Start with a good spray with the garden hose on the hardest jet to flush out most bugs. Pruning the hedge is also effective. The mealybug likes to sit on the young leaves and pruning prevents this from happening. What also helps is to provide your hedge with special hedge fertilizer. The hedge will become healthier and more resistant to aphids.
The same applies to the boxwood as to the beech hedge. Prune your boxwood and dispose of the pruning waste immediately and properly. Then you can rinse the plant thoroughly once so that the aphids are washed away from the boxwood. Doesn’t work? You can also fight the louse chemically, but that is not preferred.
Mealybug on houseplants
Have you noticed mealybugs on a houseplant? Put it in quarantine immediately to prevent the mealybugs from also affecting other house plants. Prevent indoor plants from being in a draft, as this will attract mealy bugs more quickly. You are probably the biggest spreader of mealy bugs among houseplants. The bugs like to jump from your clothes to another plant. This also applies to your watering can. So be careful.
Mealybugs on cactus
One of the mealybugs’ favorite houseplants is the cactus. The bug is usually found in the cavities and ribs of the cactus, especially the head of a cactus is favorite. Do you see small white spots on the cactus? Then your cactus probably suffers from mealy bugs. If you only see a few spots, bugs, you can remove them individually with a sharp object. If the infection is worse, try the tips above.
Mealybugs on orchids
Mealybugs can be very persistent in an orchid. If you water an orchid, water can remain in the armpits of the leaves, this is the favorite spot for mealybugs. Therefore, dry the armpits of the plant after watering, for example with a cotton swab.
Have you already tried all control methods, but are you still bothered by these pests? The bug might be present in the soil mixture. Lift the plant from the pot and remove all soil from the roots. Then immerse the plant for 10 seconds in a bucket of Pyrethro-Pur. Leave the plant for a while and then submerge it again a few hours later.
Put fresh soil mixture in the pot and put your orchid back.
Bromeliads are also sensitive to mealybugs. Do you have mealybugs in your Bromeliad? Try the tips above.