The summer is coming to an end, so it's time to bring your plants inside. We said plants, not mealybugs! Before it's too late, here's everything you need to know about the nutrient-sucking, little white cotton-like-critters that could cause you a lot of headaches if you're not careful.
What Are Mealybugs?
If you've ever noticed a weird cotton like substance growing on your plants, chances are they didn't just leave after wiping them off. It's more likely that they came back overnight, again and again. If you head to your local garden center to ask an expert, you'll get a wide-eyed look and the word "Mealybugs!". It's no joke folks, Mealybugs aren't easy to get rid of. They kill every plant they land on and send shivers down our experts backs!
Though, not harmful to humans and pets, they can be life threatening to their host plant, sucking up all the nutrients your plants need to survive. If you're brave enough to take a closer look at them through a microscope or google images, you'll find that they look awfully similar to potato bugs but with more legs.
Like many bugs, Mealybugs start their lifecycle in a cocoon form. In just three days they hatch into tiny crawling insects with the female Mealybugs taking the form of larger potato-bug-like critters ready to reproduce without mating. While rare male Mealybugs take form as flying insects.
How did I get Mealybugs?
Mealybugs are attracted to nitrogen rich plants and moisture. If you have a tendency to overwater your plants, it's a good idea to water as little as you can to make them as uncomfortable as possible.
Not only do Mealybugs love houseplants but like many insects they enjoy common produce from grocery stores and flowers, which is a good reminder to wash your food before putting them away and to check your flowers before bringing them home.
When shopping for new houseplants, be sure to check them over. Once a single plant is infested, it is very easy for Mealybugs to transfer host plants. If you spot any signs of Mealybugs from a new plant, be sure to return it and notify the business of the reason for return so that they can dispose of the plant and check on their nursery.
Tip: Mealybugs aren't just interested in indoor plants, they can often be found outside during warmer temperatures. Be careful when bringing plants inside from the outdoors, as it's a good opportunity for them to extend their lifespan.
How Do You Get Rid of Mealybugs?
There are a few methods to taking care of a Mealybug infestation but non of them as as easy as you might hope. Treating mealybugs can take time but with enough care, your plants will thank you for your efforts. Here are a few favourite methods to taking care of Mealybugs.
1.) Dish Soap - Mix 1 tablespoon of dish soap with a quart of water, apply the spray to the leaves and the soil of your plant. This treatment will take some time and should be applied every couple days.
2.) Peroxide - Using a Q-tip swab the insects off the leaves of your plant to ensure all eggs are sterilized to prevent hatching.
3.) Spray - If you're time sensitive and want to treat your Mealybugs immediately, try Safers End All Ready To Use Spray. Safe to use on all types of plants and highly effective for treating many types of bugs.
Tip: For an effective treatment, shower your plants clean of the effected soil and treat the roots directly. Place your plant in new soil, and treat it again. Since mealybugs live right at the root of the plant, this will help take care of them straight at the source.