How to Get Rid of Mealybugs: Treatment and Prevention
Mealybugs are a frequent threat to indoor plants. They have a pink, squishy body and are covered in a white, cottony, waxy substance. They are shielded from excessive heat and moisture loss by the white “fluff.” Most species can move about and retain their legs throughout their lives, unlike their relatives the scales. Females measure around 1/16″ in length, are spherical, and lack wings.
The most prevalent species of mealybug found on plant leaf is the citrus mealybug (Planococcus citri). It consumes a wide range of plants, but it prefers succulent and soft-stemmed species including coleus, fuchsia, croton, jade, poinsettia, and cactus. It frequently appears on bird of paradise, oranges, grapes, apples, and rosemary. Several varieties of carnivorous plants are infested by mealybugs as well.
Species have slightly different life cycles. Most mealybug adult females lay 100–200 or more eggs in cottony egg sacs over the course of 10–20 days. Egg sacs can be fastened to fruit, twigs, leaves, bark, or crowns. The long-tailed mealybug is an anomaly, as it lays eggs that stay inside the female until they hatch.
Newly hatched mealybug nymphs (known as crawlers) are yellow to orangish or pink, lack wax, and are quite mobile. However, soon after settling down to feed, they start to excrete a waxy covering. Adults and older nymphs have legs and can move, although they cannot travel quickly or far. Before becoming adults, nymphs go through multiple instars of development. Mealybugs can have two to six generations a year, depending on the species and habitat. All stages could be present all year round in warm areas or indoor plant environments.
Mealybugs consume plant phloem sap, which lowers plant vigour, and they expel sticky honeydew and wax, which decreases the quality of plants and fruits, particularly when black sooty mould develops on the honeydew. It can be unpleasant to see large collections of mealybugs, their egg sacs, and wax. Healthy plants may survive low populations without suffering considerable harm, but high populations that feed on leaves or stems can limit plant growth and trigger leaf drop. Ground mealybugs, which are uncommon in gardens and landscapes, eat the roots of plants and can lead to plant decline, but they are typically not noticed until the roots of the plants have been dug out.
Treatment and Prevention:
We know how to get rid of these fluffy visitors, so there’s no need to panic. Preventing mealybugs from becoming established in the first place is the best strategy to manage them on indoor plants. Before bringing any new houseplants into your house, give them a thorough inspection. If at all possible, keep them apart from other plants for about a week. One infected plant could spread mealybugs to all of your indoor plants since mealybugs can quickly travel from one plant to another, especially when leaves or branches overlap. Look for signs of infection around the growth tips, in the folds of new leaves, and under the leaves. Avoid overfertilizing with excessive nitrogen since mealybugs prefer lush vegetation.
Light infestations can be controlled by dipping a cotton swab in household alcohol and dabbing it on the individual mealybugs. Alcohol will cause mealybugs to turn a pale brown tint. Avoid getting alcohol on the plant’s leaves to prevent damage to them. Spray the plants well with an approved houseplant spray or insecticidal soap for indoor plants if there is a severe infestation. Till the problem is resolved, perform the procedure once or twice a week.