What Causes Mealybugs On Outdoor Plants

Mealybugs are drawn to specific plants that contain a lot of the liquids they like to eat. Mealybugs can be a major hazard to some commercial crops, like mango, and citrus trees are particularly vulnerable. Numerous indoor houseplants, particularly tropical species, are susceptible to mealybug infestation.

Mealybugs may occur if you overwater and overfertilize your plants since they are drawn to plants with high nitrogen levels and soft growth.

How can mealybugs on outdoor plants be removed?

Mealybugs suck undigested sap, or honeydew, from your favorite plants and wrap themselves with it. They are protected from predators and many control measures by their cottony coating, but you can outwit them.

To stop a mealybug infestation, follow these steps:

1. Give your plants good care.

Compared to plants that are hungry, weak, or stressed, healthy plants are less prone to mealybug infestations. Try rinsing off the mealybugs with a steady stream of water if there are only a few of them on your plants. Repetition is required. Although it might not totally solve the issue, it can assist prevent a little issue from growing into a larger one.

2. Dismantle their barriers.

Against many mealybug sprays, that cottony layer offers good defense. There are two strategies for avoiding it.

Utilizing a comprehensive bug control is one approach. The plant leaves absorb and retain Ortho Rose & Flower Insect Killer Ready-To-Use, providing protection for up to 4 weeks. Mealybugs are killed by the plant when they feed on it.

The alternative method involves dousing them in an oil spray, like Ortho Fruit Tree Spray. Make sure your plant is listed on the label by checking, and always follow the label’s usage instructions.

3. Be tenacious in your battle against mealybugs.

Reapply your remedy if mealybugs reappear. They can be defeated by persistent effort, even if it takes some time.

Because they eat on the stems, mealybugs can destroy plants if they are not controlled. This could result in wilting, defoliation, discoloration, and stunted growth. But thanks to your newfound knowledge and equipment, you can now defend your plants from those fluffy, white bugs.

Where do exterior mealy bugs come from?

Some kinds of mealybugs can survive the winter as nymphs and eggs. However, the introduction of mealybug-infested plants often results in springtime resurgences outside, with young nymphs from the infected plant infecting surrounding plants. Mealybugs may be moved from one plant to another by ants.

How are mealy bugs formed?

My husband and I sometimes make the joke that after appreciating someone’s succulents in their home, the first thing I say is, “Oh, sure, you have mealybugs. How humiliating! However, it really comes from a good place. I wish to assist those who, like me, are unaware of their problems. Immediately after this, a helpful “…and here’s what you can do about it” is always added.

I initially believed that having a mealybug infestation was a wonderful thing. It started to appear in areas with recent growth, and I thought, “Oh cool, it’s expanding! I wasn’t worried until my jade plant began to lose leaves rapidly. After I treated it, that same Jade briefly came back to life, but in the end it went to Flora Heaven.

What exactly are mealybugs, then? They are a very prevalent indoor plant pest. By bringing home infected plants from a nursery, they can enter your home (or outside plants) from warmer climes. They disperse among plants and eat the growth tips. They are small white creatures that build cottony nests where they feed. Even in the roots, they may survive.

How do you recognize them? You should periodically check your plants for bugs and any other problems. These small creatures are masters at camouflage. Although they can be seen with the naked eye, they frequently tuck themselves into areas that are difficult to view, such as leaf joints and plant undersides.

What can you do about it then? Move the sick plant far from your healthy plants first. Move it into a different room, not simply a foot or two over. Simply wipe them off with cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol to kill them. Remember that a mealybug has a 30-day life cycle. Therefore, even if you successfully set up the nests the first time, you will need to maintain this routine once a week for at least a month to make sure you got them all. Other possibilities include spraying insecticidal soap on the plant, making your own dishwashing liquid and water, applying neem oil, and I’ve even heard of using Windex. Always read the label because some of these treatments can make you more sensitive to light and risk a sunburn if you expose your succubabies to the sun right away.

How can you avoid acquiring them? The greatest thing to do after purchasing your new plant baby is quarantine it so you have time to see if any problems arise. But who wants to do that? Not me! But hey, at least I made it clear what you needed to accomplish.

Being selective in the nursery is occasionally the simplest solution. Before making the purchase, carefully inspect your prospective plant child, and once you get home, develop the habit of looking for them on all of your succulents.

Get into the habit of spraying all of your succulents with an insecticidal detergent before you bring them inside and again when you first set them outside in the spring if your climate requires you to move them indoors during the winter.

The spread of mealybugs to other plants.

Mealybugs are naturally present throughout the earth, but they prefer warm, humid environments.

Unless you actually reside in a warm, humid area where mealybugs normally reside, the most common way that they may reach your home is tragically by bringing home a new plant from a contaminated greenhouse or nursery. Everything from fruit plants to succulents can harbor these pests.

How do mealybugs spread, though? Mealybugs can readily spread to other plants once they are present on a plant in your home.

This is especially true if your indoor plants are crowded together and overlap a bit. A group of plants kept together in a humid area, which is often extremely beneficial for the plants, is an excellent location for these squatters.

Did you realize? Plant diseases can also be spread by mealybugs. Not something that should cause too much concern for the casual houseplant enthusiast, but it might be terrible for commercial plant growers like vineyard owners.

Exist mealy bugs in soil?

Mealybugs can creep about on a plant and spread to nearby houseplants even though they often don’t appear to move.

The worst thing is that mealybugs may survive for a very long period in cracks and crevices without a host plant. They will abandon the houseplant to hide.

Therefore, just when you believe you have subdued the beast, it will re-infest your houseplant when you’re not looking by emerging from hiding.

  • If a plant suffers from recurrent infestations, you might try removing the top inch of soil from the container and substituting it with new potting soil because mealybugs can thrive in houseplant soil.
  • After removing the dirt layer, you should wipe the inside of the pot’s rim with soapy water or a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol to ensure that any bugs lurking there are killed.
  • Get rid of the plant and clean any nooks and crannies where mealybugs might be lurking. Check for hidden mealybugs in the bottom of the pot, along the inside corners of the pot and tray, and on the outside lip of the pot.
  • Move your plant to a new location once the infestation is under control to keep mealybugs from hiding in the area where the plant was previously situated.

The first few times you try to get rid of all the mealybugs, it’s difficult. Even if you manage to eliminate every adult, the eggs and young are insignificant and simple to miss.

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How are mealybugs prevented?

The only effective strategies to avoid mealybug are to keep your plants indoors during the summer and to thoroughly inspect any new equipment, pots, or plant babies you bring home before using them.

Should you discard the mealybug-infested plant?

I took my indoor plants outside last spring since I had a lot of mealybugs on them in the hopes that predators would take care of them or at least save me from having to deal with them for a long. As the weather turns colder, I must bring them inside. How can I get rid of the mealybugs without introducing any new pests?

A: Discarding your infected plants is the best option unless they are very precious, either financially or sentimentally. This can be very difficult to do.

Mealybugs, which resemble tiny clusters of cotton thread, are extremely difficult to eradicate. Rubbin’s alcohol on a cotton swab can be used to kill the ones you see, but more often than not, they can be found in obscure places like the crotch of leaves or on plant roots. They produce a waxy material that coats them and creates a thick coating that prevents insecticides from penetrating. They also produce a lot of eggs, which helps them spread swiftly. They weaken plants by sapping the juices, thus they are more than simply an aesthetic issue. Plants continue to deteriorate if they can’t be controlled until it’s easy to decide to get rid of them, but by then, your other plants might already be infested.

The best way to control a problem is to catch it early by inspecting each new plant for pests. It never hurts to wash fresh plants with a hose, in the sink, or the shower, but this won’t make your house safe. Upon every watering, keep an eye out for bug signs. additionally look around the plants. You might find eggs or observe insects flying off to find their next prey.

Before bringing in any other plants from the outdoors or managing mealybugs on plants you can’t bear to leave with, wash them with a hose. To drive the pests away, use a powerful spray. Insecticidal soap, which is readily available at garden centers and is affordable, should be sprayed on all of the plants’ surfaces. Being a contact pesticide, which means it must make contact with the bug, you must make sure it covers all potential bug hiding places, including pots and saucers. It can be used again indoors and even on consumables like herbs that you would grow as houseplants.

Although it is technically correct, you should gradually bring the plants inside so they can grow adapted to the lesser light, I don’t think this is a good idea. Your plants could first appear a little depressed, like some of us, but they will recover as they grow used to being indoors.

Is it simple to get rid of mealy bugs?

You are sure to come across mealybugs at some point if you are growing succulents indoors (and possibly if you are growing succulents outdoors). If not, you’re lucky!

There is an infestation of mealybugs. They are tough to eradicate and spread swiftly from plant to plant. Fortunately, I’ve found a quick approach to get rid of pests that won’t burn your succulents or cause any other issues that typical pesticides might.

What kind of plants are preferred by mealybugs?

Mealybugs are little, round, slow-moving insects that are coated in a waxy substance that looks like cotton. They are tropical insects that are almost never found on blooming or bedding plants and are almost exclusively found on permanent foliage plants. They can invade the roots as well as other plant sections. Scales and mealybugs have a connection. The most prevalent and harmful species of mealybug found in greenhouses is the citrus mealybug (Planococcus citri).

Mealybugs have a pink, squishy body, and their sizes range from 1/20 to 1/5 of an inch. They are segmented and slightly elongated, and the end of their hind end has waxy filaments that resemble a tail. They have a white or grey cottony wax covering on them. Mealybugs might be mistaken for wooly aphids or cottony cushion scale based on appearance. Mealybugs live their entire lives with their legs still attached, unlike their near relatives the scales.

Mealybugs feed at stem tips and where a leaf joins a stem, which causes symptoms and effects. On tropical foliage or soft-stemmed succulent plants like coleus, fuchsia, and cactus, the citrus mealybug is more prevalent. Among other species, dracaena is preferred by long-tailed mealybugs. Stunting, chlorosis, defoliation, and wilting are all signs of mealybug feeding. Mealybugs consume sweet plant liquids (photosynthates), hence their excrement is known as honeydew and has a high sugar content. The sooty mold fungus, which are not toxic to the plant but might impede photosynthesis in the leaves if present in sufficiently high numbers, can develop on sticky honeydew. Citrus mealybugs inject a poison as they feed, which results in additional issues.

Mealybugs lay up to 600 tiny, yellow eggs in a covering of cotton during their life cycle. Less eggs are laid at high temperatures, which is temperature sensitive for egg-laying. Long-tailed mealybugs are similar to aphids in that they bear live offspring but do not lay eggs. The female passes away between five and ten days after giving birth to eggs. Mealybugs are mobile during their entire lives and go through three instars (stages). Nymphs, which are immature males, settle and weave a white, waxy cocoon. Male adults are tiny, wingless, infrequently observed, and have a short lifespan. Depending on the temperature, one generation emerges every one to three months.

Scouting Advice: Look closely at the leaf whorls of plants that are vulnerable. Mealybugs with long tails are frequently found in whorls. Determine whether any white mass is a mealybug, a mealybug egg mass, or the larval stage of the helpful mealybug destroyer by closely inspecting it (see below). A mealybug infestation underground may be indicated by yellowed or wilted foliage. African violets are particularly prone to this. If a closer examination of the roots is required, look for white cottony lumps near drainage holes.


Non-Chemical: Avoidance is the greatest mealybug control strategy. Upon delivery, all new plant material should be examined, and those that are infected should be sent back to the source. Plants in greenhouses that are extensively infested should be destroyed because cleaning them up will be expensive and difficult, if not impossible. To avoid a secondary infection site, clear the growth area of any extra soil and compost piles.

In rare circumstances, a particular kind of beetle called a mealybug destroyer can be particularly efficient at reducing mealybug populations. However, in order for this method to work, you must be prepared to put up with a low level of pest and beneficial bug infestation on your plants.

Chemical: Mealybug control is possible with a variety of insecticides. For a complete list of available products, consult UW-Extension paper A3744 “Insect Pest Management for Greenhouses.” Because the wax that covers the insects is protective, chemical control will be challenging. If well covered, contact sprays with insecticidal soaps are effective against the mealybug crawler stage. In the presence of beneficial insects, use insect growth regulators. Given that the eggs and adult stages are resistant to the majority of pesticides, you will need two to three applications spaced 10 to 14 days apart to achieve excellent control.