How to Kill Mealy Bugs
Mealybug Control

Easy, cheap method for killing mealy bugs (also correctly spelled mealybugs). How to solve or remedy mealybug infestation damage. Citrus mealybug. Mealybug destroyer.

Fat, Unarmored Mealy Bugs Feed on a Shepherd's Needle Stem

Fat, Unarmored Mealy Bugs Feed on a Shepherd's Needle Stem
Culver, Willard
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The mealy is a sucking insect with a flattish, oval-shaped body with fringed edges. They attach themselves to plant stems much like unarmored scale insects. Because they do not form a hard shell the way scale insects do, they are easier to kill.

Pseudococcidae is the family name of the mealybug. It acquired its common name from the fact that it looks like it has just crawled through a flour bin. The powdery, white fluff that covers it is formed of a waxy substance which the insect secretes.

There are male and female mealybugs. The males only exist to fertilize the females and they do not damage plants. The females carry their eggs in a fuzzy sac on their backs. This makes them look like tiny cotton balls.

After laying several hundred eggs, the female will leave her egg sac in the axil of a leaf and crawl off to die, having completed her life cycle.

Ten days later, the eggs will hatch and the yellow larvae (which look much like aphids) will begin to suck the life out of their plant host.

Soon, the young will begin to exude the characteristic white wax that covers the adults.

Mealybug Damage
Getting Rid of Mealybugs Naturally

Mealybugs are found in every climate but they are especially prevalent in warm areas. You will often find mealy bugs on houseplants like orchids or African violets and in greenhouses.

In the Southern U.S., you may find them damaging gardenias or azaleas. The citrus mealybug does the most damage in the citrus belt.

Up north, plants in the Taxus family are most often affected and the Comstock mealybug infests apple orchards.

As the insects feed, plant stems and leaves will wilt and eventually die if the infestation is not brought under control.

Outdoors, mealybugs are normally kept in check by their natural predators.

Chief among mealy bug predators is the Mealybug Destroyer,Cryptolaemus montrouzieri--a type of lady beetle adored by the citrus industry with a voracious appetite for mealy meals.

Pirate Bugs, Orius insidiosis, can also be enlisted in the effort to kill mealy bugs. This black beetle will also control spider mites and thrips.

Scymnobius sordidus is a small, brown lady beetle that will kill the grape or vine mealybug.

These beneficial insects kill mealybugs by sucking the fluids from their soft bodies.

Cheap Mealy Bug Control

Ordinary rubbing alcohol will kill these pests quickly. Dip a cotton bud into the alcohol and then just touch it to the bug. Alcohol is a solvent. It will eat through the waxy coating on the bug's back and dry the insect out.

If the bugs are on a flat surface which will withstand the application of rubbing alcohol, use a cloth dampened with alcohol to wipe them off.

This is an especially good way to dispatch with them when they are infesting your houseplants. You may not want to release lady beetles into your home.

The limiting factor here is the toughness of the plant tissue you are working with.

Alcohol is great for controlling mealybugs on orchids or hibiscus plants but you might hesitate to use it to eliminate mealybugs on African violets.

An important aspect of mealy bug treatment that is often overlooked is ant control.

Ants farm mealybugs in the same way that they farm aphids and for the same reason. The ants will fight against mealybug destroyers or other predators you release to control them.

It is a good idea to kill the ants before introducing the predators to the growing area. Ortho Bug-B-Gon is good for killing outdoor ants plaguing ornamental plants.

On fruit trees or indoors, I would use 20 Mule Team Borax because it is safer. Its only drawback is that it looses its effectiveness when wet. Kills ants in 24-48 hours.

For outdoor plants or a large collection of houseplants, a malathion spray will kill mealybugs with ease. This is the least expensive one I was able to find:

Malathion can also be used to kill ants if you know where the nest is.

Related Pages:

Woolly Aphid Control
The woolly aphid is the other mealy bug. The 2 pests are often confused because of their fuzzy white filaments. Control of woolly apple aphids, Eriosoma lanigerum. Natural aphid control.

Kill Thrips in the garden using natural insecticides. Prevent thrips damage from marring the flowers of your plants and fruit trees. Thrip control products. Thrips picture and information.

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