Some of the most important responsibilities of being a plant parent are ensuring adequate sunlight, watering them on schedule, and checking for invasive species such as mealy bugs. Mealybugs are tiny, slimy bugs that can form colonies and infestations.
It is usually coated with white powdered wax resembling meal, and that’s why this pest is named so. These bugs rear their heads as if from thin air before swiftly killing your beloved green babies with a vengeance! Let’s see “how do mealybugs get on plants.”
What Are MealyBugs
The mealybug is a soft oval-shaped little sap-sucking pest common in the garden, greenhouse, and indoor plants. These are brown fuzzy creatures that look like tiny cushions with legs (and sometimes even feel like they’re made out of cotton).
These white bugs are closely related to the more commonly seen soft scales but lack covers like waxes or colloids. Like those other sap-sucking creatures (soft scales), mealybugs can produce plenty of honeydew for black sooty mold growth, which will turn your lovely garden into an ancient forest! These insects live their best in warmer climates.
Damage That Mealybugs Cause To Plants
Mealybug populations sometimes seem to spring up out of nowhere, especially when you least expect them, like in the dead of night or during bloom season. Here are the damages these tiny white bugs cause to your field:
- Mealybugs feed on both plants and their leaves which causes brown spots or wilting.
- They will often infest new growth or tender young leaves.
- Moreover, they reduce the quality of nutrients for other parts of your garden, such as flowers and fruits causing plant damage.
- These pests will take over any part they’re allowed access to: leaves, flowers, stems–even fruit-bearing ovaries. Then they proceed to eat everything inside those areas leaving behind nothing but destruction!
- Mealybugs feed off plant juices by piercing small holes through cell walls.
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How Do MealyBugs Get On Plants
Mealybugs are pesky pests that can infest homes and outdoor plants. They love to live in warm, moist environments where their preferred food – which is found on plant leaves and within roots – grows abundantly.
Moth-eaten puffballs can be a sign that you have mealybugs. The most common causes of these pesky bugs are:
1. Through Nursery
Most mealybug infestations occur when you bring other plants into your home through a nursery or plant store.
2. Contaminated Potting Soil
Using infected or contaminated garden soils which are not properly drained carries such types of pests.
3. Fresh Flowers Bought from Grocery Stores
Fresh flowers at stores may also carry mealybugs since they often hitchhike on such materials.
4. Putting Houseplants In Warm Outdoor Climate
Putting indoor plants outside, especially during warmer climates, causes mealybugs to produce.
5. Harvesting Plants In Closed Containers
Many people store their harvested fruits/veggies in sealed containers even though this practice has been discouraged due to harmful pests.
6. Ants Bring Mealy Bugs
The ants often bring mealybugs to houseplants because this bug leaves honeydew residue behind that the ants eat.
6 Ways To Get Rid Of Mealy Bugs
Getting rid of mealybugs on house plants can be difficult as they are often hard to kill. But don’t despair! Follow these tips and treatment methods for an easy way to get rid of them forever.
1. Discard The Plant
If the infestation is light and moderate, you can treat it with chemicals. However, if a plant is heavily infested, we recommend discarding it and replacing it with a new one as it is likely to put healthy plants at risk.
2. Treat With Isopropyl Alcohol
Isopropyl alcohol is a great solution for getting rid of mealybugs. It’s cheap, effective, and safe if you don’t use too much (which can hurt plants). First, soak one cotton ball in rubbing alcohol, then wipe it over the affected area, which will kill them with ease. To ensure your plant doesn’t get burned when using this on its leaves, apply test samples first.
3. Use Beneficial Insects
The natural predators of mealybugs are commercially available for purchase, such as ladybugs. These beneficial insects will prey on these pests in your home or business. Cryptolaemus montrouzieri, commonly known as Mealybug Destroyer, can be the best option.
4. Use Insecticidal Soap
You can use a commercially prepared insecticidal soap or make one at home to treat mealy bugs. Take a fragrance and additive-free dish detergent like Ivory Liquid and dilute it with water. You can also use Safer Brand 5118-6 Insect Killing Soap and spray it on infested plants.
5. Use Neem Oil
You can use Neem Organics Pure Neem Oil | Neem Oil Spray for Plants to keep your garden pest-free. This miracle natural ingredient has repellent and antifeedant properties. Mix 1 oz/ Gallon of water with 10ml – 15ml neem extract per application as needed; make sure you don’t overdo it.
6. Fast-acting botanical insecticides
These natural pesticides are derived from plants and have insecticidal properties. They’re not as harmful to humans or animals. So, they break down more quickly than synthetic chemicals do in an environment with plants around them, hosting mealy bugs. You can buy Trifecta Crop Control Ready to Use Maximum Strength Natural Pesticide from amazon.
Tips To Control Mealy Bug
- Carefully inspect new plants before putting them in a greenhouse or conservatory.
- Keep the new plants in quarantine for at least a month before planting more plants near them.
- Keep on checking your plants so that you may detect a minor infestation to cure easily.
- Use the non-pesticide method at first to keep wildlife away from harm.
- Wash your plants regularly with a leaf shine to avoid future infestations.
Mealybugs are small insects that cause damage by sucking the juice from host plants. The excretions of mealybugs, called honeydew for their waxy appearance, encourage sooty mold fungus to grow on it, damaging other plant life.
- Mealybugs can come on your plants from new plants bought from the market, using contaminated plant soil, putting houseplants outside in summers, and through ants.
- These are warm-weather insects and are principally found in houseplants and greenhouses.
If you have any questions, head to our comment section below, and we’ll be happy to help!