Got your plant’s leaves and stems covered in white cottony masses? Do they look like clusters of slow-moving, small, oval insects? Your plant is being attacked by mealybugs. These plant-sucking pests invade both indoor and garden plants and have apparently found your plant accommodating. They generally thrive in wet soils and humid environments and can considerably damage your plant by sucking all juices from it. Here are several tried and true methods that will help you control these pests most effectively.
Rubbing alcohol is quite effective for removing mealybugs. Use 70-percent isopropyl alcohol and a cotton ball. Soak the cotton ball in alcohol and, before treating the whole plant, test it on one of the leaves to avoid burns.
Wash Mealybugs Away
Take your plant to the bathroom and give it a good shower to wash mealybugs away. Keep in mind, however, that this measure is effective for light infestations and if your plant is tough. For delicate plants, we recommend other methods.
Neem oil combines both insecticidal and fungicidal properties; therefore, it is widely used for pest control in general and for immature pest management in particular. Apart from mealybugs, it will help you deal with aphids, whiteflies, thrips, leafminers, caterpillars, spider mites, and beetles. As a fungicide, it is most effective in powdery mildew treatment. What is more, apart from being so good at removing pests, it is also safe to use on edible plants.
Insecticidal soaps are effective in pest control and safe to use. They are non-toxic and don’t harm beneficial insects. It is recommended to use commercial insecticidal soaps, as they are safer than homemade ones (the latter may burn your plant’s leaves if you get the concentration wrong). For instance, Safer’s Insecticidal Soap is good at eradicating mealybugs.
Using beneficial insects is another way of saving your plant from mealybug infestation. The most common “mealybug destroyers” are lace bugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps. However, this recommendation is more applicable to outdoor and greenhouse plants.
Synthetic Chemical Pesticide
In case of severe mealybug infestation, you can use chemical pesticides. However, be careful, especially if you are applying them indoors. Chemical pesticides are often toxic to pets and humans and thus should be handled with great care.
If mealybugs don’t disappear at once, don’t despair—their eggs are very small and can easily be overlooked. Just repeat the procedure a few times until there is no trace of the insect left.