How To Treat Plants For Mealybugs
How To Treat Plants For Mealybug
How to Treat Plants for Mealy Bugs
Anyone who keeps indoor plants, or any plants for that matter, must be aware of the threat that pesky insects bring with them to the healthy growth of the plants. Plants require a lot of care if they are to thrive in your garden or inside your room, and that includes dealing with insects such as the Mealy Bug.
A Description of the Mealy Bug:
The Mealy Bug is an insect that can be found in warm climates. They appear as cotton-like clusters on plants and can target the leaves, fruits, or the stems.
Attacking a plant for a Mealy Bug means inserting its stylets, which are long parts of its mouth made for sucking, into the veins of the plant leaves and sucking the sap. The sap of a plant is like blood in a human body. It transports the nutrients from roots to leaves. Sucking the sap out of a plant means that the plant weakens with time and the leaves turn yellow. These effects are more apparent when the plant is attacked by a high number of pests.
Adult pests can range from 1/10 to 1/4 inches in length. They have soft bodies and lack wings. The insects have oval bodies that are covered with a wax that is colored either white or gray. The smaller insects, or nymphs, are called crawlers and they have yellow bodies that are free of wax. These bugs don’t move a lot when they find a suitable plant to feed on.
How to Avoid a Mealy Bug Infestation:
While Mealy Bugs may attack any plant they find in a suitable environment, they are mostly attracted to those that have high nitrogen levels. This is the result of too much fertilization, so be sure not to over-fertilize your plants.
Regularly washing your plants with a leaf shine will also help prevent these infestations.
Controlling an Infestation:
If infected, your plants may soon start to lose color and become weak and warped due to lack of nutrients. To avoid that, you must treat your plants against this infestation. Luckily, there are many ways to do that:
• If your plant has a light infestation, you can use alcohol-coated Q-tips to dab the insects with and get rid of them.
• Using slightly high-pressure water can help in hosing off the insects.
• There are insecticidal soaps available today that are made up of potassium salts. These salts damaged the outer shells of the insects, which causes them to die of dehydration in a few hours.
• The most extreme way to treat a Mealy Bug infestation is to use a natural pesticide that has a short span of existence and which does not linger in the environment after its work is done.
• A more natural way to control this is to use beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewing which are natural predators of the Mealy Bug. You can avoid the use of harsh chemicals or unnatural ways of killing the insects with this method. One important thing to keep note of is to control the ants during such an attack on the Mealy Bugs. Ants have a symbiotic bond with the Mealy Bugs, as they feed on the honeydew that is secreted by the insects and in return they protect them against any attacks.
• In order to keep future infestations at bay, wash the leaves of your plants regularly with a leaf shine.
Homemade and Inexpensive Solutions:
While the solutions mentioned above are all good for treating plants for Mealy Bugs, they may either be expensive for you or unhealthy for the plants in case chemicals are used. To minimize the chances of your plants being affected by such chemicals, you can make soap sprays at home which are a very good solution to the problem as well.
The advantage of soap sprays is that they don’t linger on the plant or cause any effect to it. They work by smothering the outer coating of the insects and the insect die as the result.
The various types of soap sprays that are easy to make at home are:
Basic Soap Spray:
Adding 3 tablespoons of soap to a gallon of water will give you a basic soap spray that you can use to wash the plants. Another way to make it is by adding 2 tablespoons of liquid detergent to a gallon of water.
A Combination of Oil and Soap:
A basic soap spray with 2 tablespoons of cooking oil per gallon will help your mixture stick better to the insects and doesn’t drip off too quickly.
A Combination of Alcohol and Soap:
Half a cup of rubbing alcohol to a quart of liquid soap helps clear away any waxy coating that may be present on the outer shell of the insects. This makes the soap spray penetrate the insects’ shells more easily. You should be careful to rinse off the plant with water after 20 minutes of applying the alcohol soap spray to keep the plant safe from any adverse effects.
Apply all soap sprays evenly on the foliage and the stems and leave them for about two hours before rinsing the plant with water, except for those with alcohol. In case of a concentrated infestation, try using a rag soaked with the soap in the affected area.
Before applying any sort of soap spray, test it out on a small part of the plant and keep an eye on it for some days to be sure that the plant isn’t getting affected by it in any way. The same goes for other methods of controlling a Mealy Bug infestation as well.
You should always try to avoid such a situation in which your plants may get infested by Mealy Bugs in the first place. Keeping your plants clean and washing them regularly will keep such insects away most of the time. In case you do have to face an infestation, try to find a way to control it that doesn’t affect your plant’s health or growth in any way.