So, you want to learn how to get rid of mealybugs in your home, garden, or farm.
Mealybugs are destructive pests that are all over the US.
If you notice the white fuzz on your plants, roots, or soil, you’ll want to act fast as these pests can easily destroy your plants.
This complete tutorial will cover everything you need to know in one place.
We’ll cover natural ways to kill, control, and prevent mealybugs that you can do at home!
Be sure to bookmark to this guide so you can easily refer back to it on your question to rid these bugs.
Sound good? Let’s get mealybug free!
Last updated: 9/7/19.
What’s a mealybug?
Mealybugs are almost cotton-like pests that are a pain to deal with.
They’re found all over the US, but they were first believed to have entered the US from Florida.
These pests are known to eat both indoor and outdoor plants along with the very soil that the plant lives in. They’re a very destructive pest.
They’ll suck out the sap from your plants and leave behind a honeydew residue, which will only further damage your plant by attracting other bugs.
These pests are definitely on the more difficult side to get rid of. But with patience and persistence, you can get rid of them over time.
Mealybugs will rapidly multiply as female adults can lay up to 500 eggs in a single clutch.
This is why it’s imperative to handle them ASAP and get rid of them. Leaving them alone to do their own thing will destroy the plant completely.
Mealybugs have been known to be a serious threat for farmers as they can wreak their cash crops very quickly.
For the everyday gardener, they’re also a very annoying pest to deal with. They spread easily and can often be found living in the roots of the plant.
They’re also excellent hiders, which makes them hard to find.
And you often don’t recognize that you’re dealing with mealybugs until there are too many of them.
Other names for mealybugs
Since they’re a relatively common plant pest, many other names have been concocted for this bug:
- Tiny white bugs
- Millie bugs
- Citrus mealybugs
- Pink hibiscus bug
What do mealybugs look like?
Mealybugs have a distinct appearance.
They’re commonly called fuzzy white bugs or tiny white bugs. And that’s exactly what they look like!
They almost look like a giant version of a macroscopic bacteria or germ. They have a distinct appearance that’s very easy to recognize, so identifying them should be no problem.
You’ll probably see them as white fuzzy stuff on various plants and find them crawling all over the leaves and stems.
A variety of mealybug species
They do have other colors depending on the species. Some mealybugs are brown or even cream-colored.
There are also some rare species which can range in pink, olive green, or even yellow, so they’re not all white. That just happens to be the most common color.
When they’re first born as nymphs, they have almost like a wax coat over them.
As they mature, the waxy substance will vanish. To the untrained eye, mealybugs may be mistaken for mildew or plant fungus rather than an actual pest.
But people will soon find out that this fungus moves around and is eating up their plant. That’s when people start noticing that they do indeed have a pest problem rather than a plant fungus problem.
Are you terrified yet?
Using the naked eye, you can identify a mealybug if you see something that looks like a warm fuzzy piece of cotton. If you look closer, they look like a small, flat oval with many legs protruding all around the body.
They have a pair of much longer ones at the “tail-end.” This is a very easy to notice feature to identify them from other pest species.
Mealybug life cycle
Mealybugs have a pretty straightforward life cycle that explains why they can develop so quickly and multiply exponentially.
Mature females will lay up to 500 eggs in a single egg clutch. They’ll lay eggs in an egg sac where they’ll attach it to a plant stem or leaf.
The eggs hatch in about 10 days depending on temperature and environmental conditions. The mealybug nymphs then emerge from the egg sac and will then crawl all over the plant looking for sap to eat.
Mealybugs only feed in specific areas on the plant where they can extract sap. These mealybug larvae will continue to feed until they develop into adults.
This is where most of the damage is done to the plant.
Male vs. female mealybugs
The male and female larvae will continue to feed on the plant and develop into mature forms.
After they become adults, they have completely different tasks.
The adult male and female mealybugs have completely different lifestyles. Adult males have the appearance of tiny tests with two wings. They actually can’t eat and they have a very short life cycle.
Their only job is to find female mealybugs and fertilize them. The female mealybugs are the ones that do the main damage to the plant.
Since adult males can’t feed, they die very quickly. The adult female mealybugs will mate with the males, lay eggs, and continue to eat up the plant.
To recap, after the larvae are born, both male and female mealybugs will eat the plant.
After they mature into adults, the males will solely be there to fertilize the female and will no longer eat the plant.
The females will be receptive to the males and breed and then lay eggs. The females will continue to feed on the plant.
Mealybugs can develop quickly and multiply rapidly. And areas, where the temperature is warmer, seems to draw more mealybug infestations.
They can produce up to a whopping eight generations throughout the course of a single year. In areas where it’s colder or more temperate, they produce on average one or two generations per year.
You can see that warmer weather does indeed produce more mealybugs.
How do mealybugs spread?
Mealybugs spread in multiple ways.
They can spread from contact between plants or simply migrating from plant to plant.
When you use garden tools on an infected plant and then use it again on a clean plant, the mealybugs can transfer from one plant to the other.
The honeydew residue that they leave behind also attracts ants, which will help carry the mealybugs from plant to plant.
Other vectors may include pests where the mealybug attaches to and carries it from one plant to another.
Adult males can also fly from plant to plant so this makes breeding easy.
This is also why they can reproduce so rapidly and spread among all your plants so quickly.
Where do mealybugs come from?
Mealybugs were reported back in Egypt around the early 1900s, to which it then spread to the Caribbean.
However, the bug was first found in India and has spread throughout the world.
They first came to the US through the Caribbean islands up to Florida in the 1990s.
And since then, they’ve spread into many states:
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
Since they were first found in Florida, you can imagine the type of situation that must be going on over there.
The first report of mealybugs was the pink hibiscus species, which was discovered around 2001 in Florida.
Since then, the pink hibiscus mealybug has been eating up many of Florida’s cash crops and has done extensive damage to them.
What crops do mealybugs eat?
Some of these crops include:
- Sugar cane
The University of Florida states that the annual cost and damages to the US economy overall from the pink hibiscus mealybugs have been estimated to be up to 700 million dollars.
And that’s just in the United States. The overall global total is about 5 billion dollars.
Are mealybugs bad to have?
They’re a destructive pest and will eat up cash crops. Many states are dealing with mealybug infestations and have production loss because of them.
But not only farmers are suffering- even the common everyday gardener deals with them (which is probably why you’re here?).
Not only do they eat crops, but they’ll also happily destroy succulents, orchids, cacti, palms, African violets, ornamentals, and hibiscus plants.
They’ll infest soil, plant roots, and even your kitchen pantry!
Mealybugs will eat up both indoor and outdoor plants.
Are they dangerous to plants?
Yes. Mealybugs are dangerous to plants and that is the main problem they pose.
Mealybugs will easily destroy cash crops or everyday household plants. Whether your plants are indoors or outdoors, mealybugs will make them a food source.
The real danger comes from either ignoring or not recognizing that you have a mealybug infestation. If you leave them alone long enough, they will eventually kill your plants.
Even though they’re small and tiny, they do appear in large numbers and can eat up and kill a plant relatively easily. They’re tiny, but they do pack a punch. They’re often related to aphids because of their waxy secretions.
Both aphids and mealybugs release wax to cover their bodies.
Mealybugs have special glands on their body that produce this wax and give them their signature white appearance.
Many times, mealybugs are confused with aphids as they are both waxy insects.
What plants do mealybugs eat?
Mealybugs do not have a specific plan that they target.
All plant species are pretty much at risk from mealybugs.
Based on trends, they tend to target ornamental and citrus plants in warmer temperatures.
However, they’ll also eat trees, shrubs, tropical plants, perennial plants, and all woody pine trees can also be infested by this pest.
There really is no safe plant that’s mealybug-proof, unless you go for something really out of the ordinary. I’m sure they exist, but it just goes to show how voracious of an appetite these pests have.
Do they eat sap?
Mealybugs will attack plants by sucking up the nutritious sap from the various parts of the plant.
You often find them eating up the sap around the plant roots or crowns.
However, they will also eat sap from the stems, twigs, fruit, and even the twigs. There is really no part of the plan that they won’t lap up.
Because they eat the plant’s sap, it leaves behind a perfect environment for mold to grow on the plant. Mold as we know it is no good for any plant.
If you notice that some of your plants have started to develop a dark charcoal or gray sooty like substance, this is probably mold that’s developing on your plant.
If you also do spot the fuzzy-like appearance of mealybugs on the same plant, chances are you have a mealybug infestation.
The most common plants where mealybugs are found are the following:
- African violets
This guide will cover home remedies to get rid of mealybugs that are infesting these plants.
Are mealybugs dangerous to humans?
Mealybugs aren’t exactly dangerous to humans in the form that they will bite you.
So if you’re afraid of getting bitten by one or stung by one, you have nothing to worry about. Mealybugs don’t bite or sting, so that’s not something that you should be concerned about.
However, some mealybugs have been reported to spread bacteria or viruses, which can cause disease.
This is often reported with mealybug species that tend to hang out in grapevines. The possibility of you getting a bacterial or viral transmission from these pests is rare.
So you probably don’t need to worry about it unless you grow your grape vines or you work on a farm.
For the majority of people, they’re just looking to get rid of these pests from their everyday plants. These plants only seem to attract the “safer” species of mealybugs.
They leave a “honeydew” soot
Mealybugs leave behind a honeydew-like residue which can be an irritant to your skin.
You may get itchiness or a rash from coming into contact with this sticky substance.
The residue can also be very difficult to remove from your clothes, furniture, countertops, or other surfaces.
So always be careful when you decide to squish them. The residue can leave behind a difficult to remove the stain!
Anyway, to be safe, always wash your hands with soap and warm water after you touch mealybugs or any of their sticky, nasty residue. As long as you practice safe and good hygiene, you should be okay.
You should probably be more worried about the damage they cause to your plants more so than the damage they can cause to your skin!
Where do mealybugs hide?
Mealybugs are extremely well-adapted to hide on plants.
They typically take cover on the plant roots, under the plant leaves, and well within pot planters.
They can survive under the soil for weeks at a time as that houses one of their favorite parts of the plant to munch on. They’ll gobble up the root and the root crown without hesitation.
When you see them on the actual plant, you may find them on the plant leaves or flowers. Since they’re very slow-moving, you may not notice them at first.
However, over time, when you start to see more of these cotton-like pests, then you can be sure that you’re dealing with a pest problem.
Where to find mealybugs
You can often find them on the hard-to-see parts of your plant. You’ll have to do some digging to find them- possibly literally.
Check under the leaves, within the crevices of the leaf and stem axis, or even under the soil around the root crown.
At the very beginning, they will be very hard to find because you just have one or two mealybugs on your plant.
However, they’ll start breeding and feeding and eventually laying egg clutches. Once the eggs hatch, they’ll start to feed and gobble up your plant.
At this point, you’ll start to notice more and more of this fuzzy like pest on all of your plants. Or you might notice the charcoal soot.
To keep it simple, once you start noticing either dark charcoal soot or a whitish appearance that may look like plant fungus or plant mildew, you’ll want to do your inspection to make sure you’re aware of what you’re dealing with.
Can mealybugs fly?
Yes, mealybugs can fly.
But flight is limited to just the adult males. Adult nymphs don’t have developed wings so they can’t fly yet. And female mealybugs aren’t capable of flight.
So if you see a mealybug flying around, you can be certain that it’s an adult male.
Can you drown mealybugs?
But I wouldn’t recommend drowning mealybugs as a way to get rid of them.
Drowning doesn’t work because mealybugs can live underwater for many, many weeks. These pests are already root eaters and like to attack the roots of plants under the soil.
Oxygen isn’t always available and this can almost be an anaerobic environment. Mealybugs can’t survive underwater forever, but the time it takes to drown them isn’t practical.
So even though it’s possible, it’s not practical. It all depends on how long you plan to keep them submerged underwater. If you have a plant that’s infested with mealybugs, you could place it underwater for weeks at a time in the hopes that it’ll kill off all the mealybugs.
But you just need to make sure that it doesn’t kill your plant first.
How to treat a mealybug infestation
Here you’ll find two ways 2 control your mealybug infestation.
The first section covers a bunch of ways you can do at home.
The second section covers some commercial pesticides you can use that are effective against mealybugs.
Always use a natural or organic approach when possible as this is safer for the environment, you, your family, and your pets.
Only resort to commercial pesticides if natural methods don’t work for you.
How to get rid of mealybugs naturally
This is the first section where will cover how to eliminate mealybugs naturally. You can read over these methods and use a few of them.
The key is to use a combination of them to see which one works the best for your situation.
Depending on the environment and mealybugs species, some methods may work better than others. You’ll want to try a few of them out to see which one works best for you.
Don’t just stick to one. There is plenty to try and utilize. Once you find a few that work, go ahead and scare them up.
Here are a bunch of natural remedies for mealybugs.
Essential oils for mealybugs
Essential oils have been lightly tested against mealybugs.
Because these pests cause such extensive damage to crops, you can bet that researchers have been looking for ways to eliminate them.
Essential oils are a proven method that can get rid of mealybugs on plants naturally.
Based on a study from 2013, a group tested four different essential oils from aromatic plants.
The oils used were:
- Peppermint oil
- Thyme oil
- Lavender oil
- Mentha oil
They also tested essential oils from fruit peels of lemon, basic, and orange.
The group used various essential oils and see which one was the most effective against mealybugs.
Their results were the following:
The most effective oils were the citrus oils from the lemon and orange peels.
They also didn’t cause any phytotoxicity on the grape leaves, which means these oils were very effective against mealybugs and didn’t cause any harm to the plant itself.
Basil oil caused the most damage to the plant, while lavender, thyme, and peppermint caused minimal damage.
- The orange and lemon oils were the most effective with the least damage to the grape plant.
- The basil and lavender oils were minimally effective.
- The basil oil was the most damaging to the plant.
- Peppermint and thyme were moderately effective against mealybugs with minimal damage to the plant.
How you can benefit from this
From this, we can probably see that you should stick with orange or lemon essential oils.
They may prove to be effective against mealybugs as an all-natural way to get rid of them naturally.
Note that this doesn’t mean that these citrus oils won’t harm your specific plant. This was tested on grape leaves, so these findings may not be safe for all plants.
However, on this particular species of mealybugs that happens to feed on grape plants, the lemon and orange essential oils were effective against them.
Perhaps those essential oils are worth trying on your plants also.
Be sure to use the oils in a small patch first before applying to the whole plant. You want to make sure no damage is visible by testing first. If it’s OK, then continue applying.
You can make your essential oil mix at home.
All you need is to buy the oil, then add a few drops to a cup of water. Mix the solution and put it all in a spray bottle.
You can adjust the concentration of the spray by adding more or fewer drops of oil. You need to play around with it to get it right. There’s no “magic formula” here.
Typically, I add 8-14 drops of any oil to 1 cup of water and try it out for a week on a single leaf. See if that works for you.
Neem and ginger oil
Neem oil and ginger oil are also two other effective essential oils you can utilize and play around with.
These two oils won’t necessarily kill mealybugs, but they’re effective as natural repellents for these pests. They don’t like the scent of ginger nor neem oil, so you can spray this directly onto your plant to naturally repel them.
Be sure to do the research and testing in a localized area first to make sure that it doesn’t harm your plant. If it doesn’t, then you can go ahead and spray it directly to the entire plant to stop them from eating your plant and laying eggs on it.
You can get neem and ginger oil from any apothecary or grocery store.
Coffee grounds can also be an effective way to repel mealybugs.
All you need to do is get some coffee grounds, usually one tablespoon, and pour it into a spray bottle.
Fill up the rest with one cup of water. Swirl around gently. Then let it sit overnight to infuse the water with the coffee ground scent.
After this is done, you can test it on a single leaf or two to make sure it doesn’t harm the plant. If it doesn’t, you can go ahead and spray directly to the plant and leave it on there to repel mealybugs.
You can also use this directly onto the soil around the roots and stem to prevent mealybugs from digging into the dirt and infesting plant roots. This is a safe and natural way to get rid of them.
Of course, using coffee grounds will leave a coffee scent on your plants and in the soil. If you don’t want your plants to smell like coffee, then you should probably skip out on this method.
Will apple cider vinegar kill mealybugs?
Apple cider vinegar is a commonly used DIY pesticide.
From my experience, apple cider vinegar will kill mealybugs, but you’ll need to use a lot of it for it to be effective.
These pests can survive underwater and drowning them with apple cider vinegar seems to kill them. Slowly.
You’ll need to pour a cup of ACV into a spray bottle and spray it directly onto the white fuzz. If you spray enough to the point where they’re soaked, they seem to die.
You can just wipe them off by manual removal (use gloves) and dispose of them.
The problem with ACV is that it’s very acidic and can easily harm the plant.
So you need to be careful with it if you plan to use it as a pesticide for mealybugs.
Will hydrogen peroxide kill mealybugs?
Yes, hydrogen peroxide seems to be an effective measure against mealybugs.
Since the majority of them like to feed on the roots of the plant under the soil, you’ll have to uproot the plant to do this.
- Carefully uproot the plant and pick off any soil stuck on the roots.
- Get a small container and fill it up with 70% hydrogen peroxide (just enough to dunk the roots).
- Take the plant and dip the roots in the peroxide.
- Keep the roots in the solution for up to 10 minutes.
You’ll likely see bubbles coming from the roots as you do this. This is normal. If possible, dip the leaves or the entire plant in the solution if you notice there are egg sacs or mealybugs on the actual leaves or stems.
But only do this if needed. You want to avoid getting peroxide all over the plant because it can harm the plant.
If you only notice mealybugs around the roots, then only dunk the roots.
If you notice mealybugs on the roots and leaves/stems, then dunk the whole plant.
The hydrogen peroxide will kill the mealybugs and eggs.
But remember to avoid doing this too often. It can kill sensitive plants, so do your research first. I use this to kill off any pests on my live plants before I move them into the home and it’s never failed.
This is another nice home remedy that costs you nothing to do. Get a tub of hot water (120F), and dunk the plant in there for minutes.
It shouldn’t be enough to kill the plant since it’s not boiling, but it should be enough to kill the mealybugs instantly.
You can safely dip the roots and leaves to get the whole plant covered.
You can get some DE from the store and replant your plants mixed in with some of this stuff.
DE will dehydrate and kill mealybugs and is relatively safe for plants so you can easily control root populations with this stuff.
How do I get rid of mealybugs in the soil?
Simply uproot the plant, and then sprinkle some diatomaceous earth around the roots and into the soil.
You can also sprinkle some around the edges of the planter just to cover your bases.
The whole trick is to mix the DE with the soil that contacts the plant roots. This will kill mealybugs under the soil.
Pruning means simply driving your favorite pruning tool and cutting off the areas of the plant where you notice a lot of mealybug activity.
You can also prune off leaves or stems that have egg sacs attached to them.
After you prune off the plant parts, dip them in rubbing alcohol and let them soak to kill off the mealybugs before you dispose of them. You can repeat this process weekly until the population dwindles.
Of course, this won’t work for heavy bug infestations because you’ll end up cutting down the whole plant. This is better for smaller and localized infestations only.
You can use a steam cleaner to kill off mealybugs on your plants.
Steam cleaners are relatively cheap if you can just get a small portable unit to accomplish this. The hot steam along with the burning mist will instantly kill the mealybugs that happen to be crawling on your plants.
After you steam clean them, be sure to wipe them off of the console table or paper napkin.
Don’t leave the dead mealybugs on the plant as well tract other pests like ants.
Rubbing alcohol is another effective way to kill mealybugs at home.
All you need to do is buy some cheap 70% isopropyl alcohol, which you can get at any department or drugstore.
Here’s how to make it:
Step 1: Take the rubbing alcohol and pour a bit into a container.
Step 2: Take a cotton swab or paper napkin and dip it into the alcohol. Make sure it’s completely soaked.
Step 3: Using the soaked cotton ball or paper napkin, go ahead and gently wipe the plant leaves, stems, or twigs with the rubbing alcohol. The rubbing alcohol will instantly kill the mealybugs.
The hardest part is simply trying to find them hiding in the plant. They’re often found in hard-to-reach places, so make sure you check all parts of the plant for wandering mealybugs and egg sacs.
Step 4: Dispose of the cotton swab or paper napkin. Repeat the steps if necessary depending on how big your plan is.
You can also make your own DIY mealybug insecticide using rubbing alcohol.
The process is the same as the above except you’ll be spraying the solution rather than applying it to the plant.
To do this, all you need to do is get a spray bottle and fill it up with 70% rubbing alcohol.
After that, you can spray it directly onto the plant leaves.
Be sure to, once again, check for all the areas where these pests may be hiding. Repeat this twice a week until you notice no more mealybugs.
Clean up the mealybugs
Wipe up the dead mealybugs after you’re done. If you don’t this will check other pests to the same plant and counterproductive.
The rubbing alcohol is okay, but the mealybugs that remain on the plant will need to be removed.
Note that rubbing alcohol may cause damage to sensitive plants.
So be sure to first test this on just a few leaves to see how the plant reacts.
If the plant is okay after a day or two, they can go ahead and either wipe the whole plant using the first method or spray it down using the second method.
Rubbing alcohol is a nice approach because it’s cheap, safe for humans and pets, and most plants can handle it.
Rubbing alcohol doesn’t need to be cleaned from the plant because it evaporates readily into the atmosphere.
You don’t need to wipe off the rubbing alcohol because it’ll “clean” itself.
Isn’t that nice?
You do want to clean up the mealybugs that you killed in the process. That’s why you need to do the wiping afterward.
Here’s a video demonstrating the process (Via Desert Plants of Avalon):
This is probably the most primitive method of controlling and preventing future mealybug generations. But, this method is still effective nonetheless.
All you need to do is put on a pair of gardening gloves and carefully inspect to the plant for mealybugs.
When you find some, pick them off with your fingers and dispose of them into a solution of 70% rubbing alcohol or vinegar.
This method works best for smaller plants and can be done daily. If you just have one or two small plants, you can go ahead and remove them manually.
Eventually, you’ll put a dent in their population to the point where you will notice fewer and fewer bugs. This will take time, but it is an effective, safe, and all-natural approach.
Neem and dish soap
You can mix neem oil and dish soap to make an effective pesticide at home.
Neem oil comes from neem trees it has been proven to be an effective vegetable oil against many pests.
Here’s what you need:
- 1 cup water
- Three drops of dish soap
- One teaspoon of neem oil
How to make it:
- Fix the neem oil, dish soap, and water in a small spray bottle.
- Swirl it for a few seconds until it turns into one color.
How to use it:
- Spray it directly onto the plant. You’ll want to first test it on a localized area such as one or two of these before you spray the whole plant.
- After 48 hours, if you see no signs of damage to the plant, you can spray the entire thing.
- Spray directly onto the plant leaves and stems into the whole plant is soaked in this solution. Make sure you also get under each leaf and around each stem as mealybugs are very good at hiding in these areas.
- Also, spray it onto the soil surface and soak the soil with the solution to make sure you kill off any bugs that are hiding in the soil.
This won’t reach the mealybugs that are deep in the soil eating the roots, but it will kill off any mealybugs that are near the soil surface.
Dry the plant after applying the pesticide
After the plant is completely covered, move the plant over to a sunny area so it can dry off. Use indirect sunlight.
Don’t place it in direct sun as this may damage the plant because of the oil mixture.
Place it in a partial sun area and let it dry for one day. If this plant can’t be moved, such as an outdoor plant, then wait until it’s a shady day before you apply this mixture.
This can easily lead to plant overheating from extreme heat so you don’t want to apply it when it’s hot outside.
For indoor plants, you can apply at any time. Just place the plant in an area in your home where there’s partial shade so it can dry properly. Repeat this weekly as needed until you notice the mealybugs are gone.
Attract natural mealybug predators
Another method that’s often overlooked is to simply use the natural predators that eat mealybugs to help control and prevent them.
Attracting natural predators will help you keep the population in check.
Many natural predators eat mealybugs, so attracting them should not be an issue. Here are a few of the most common ones you can attract to help you control the mealybug infestation.
The main predator of mealybugs is parasitic wasps. There are a few different types that are native to the United States and you should do some research to see which ones are native to your state.
The best way to attract these natural predators is to grow plants that naturally attract them.
Easy enough, right?
Here are a few of the most popular plants that attract parasitic wasps.
Fennel can be grown in hardiness zones 4 through 9 and will attract parasitic wasps that eat mealybugs.
These plants have large feathery leaves and grow relatively tall with gorgeous flowers that also attract butterflies and other beneficial bugs.
They’re a prized possession for many and makes a great garden plan alongside a parasitic wasp a tractor.
White clover plants
White clover grows well in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 10.
The plant stays low to the ground and creeps out words from the crown. It grows no taller than 6 in and it produces globular flowers in various shades of white.
White clover plants prefer light shade and moist soil. This plant grows very well and sometimes it can turn into an invasive plant.
So be careful with this one. If you live in a full sun environment, white clover is an effective plan for attracting parasitic wasps to control your mealybug population.
Marigold grows all over the United States and is known for its yellow and orange flowers. These plants use its flowers to attract these wasps to your garden.
Full sun and well-draining soil are both necessities to grow this plant depending on the specific variety of miracle that you’re by. It can grow from 6″ up to 24″.
Rosemary grows in hardiness zones 8 through 10 and can grow pretty tall. It needs well-draining soil that’s dry and full sun environments. Some partial shade is okay for this plant as well.
Rosemary is also good at attracting natural parasitic wasps who can help control the mealybug population in your garden.
Attract native predators that eat mealybugs
You can do some research on any of these plans and buy some seeds or buy them already planned it in your local nursery.
Do the research, and buy the one that looks the most appealing to you.
Put it in your garden, or plant a few of them, and let the natural parasitic wasps show up in your garden.
As these wasps appear, they’ll feed on the mealybug populations and help bring down their numbers and control them. If you have enough of these plants and wasps in the area, you can effectively reduce and eliminate the mealybugs and control future infestations.
This is an effective approach. You should do this if you’ve been dealing with mealybugs for a long time and just can’t stand them anymore.
Kill ants to stop mealybugs from spreading
Believe it or not, ants are a symbiotic partner for mealybugs.
What I mean by that is that ants help carry mealybugs around from plant to plant like a taxi. They also come because they’re attracted to the honeydew substance that mealybugs excrete.
This substance will bring ants to the area which will only further damage your plants.
The ants don’t eat the mealybugs, unless they’re dead, but will often carry them and disperse them through all your plants. This only means that you’ll have more and more plants that are infested with mealybugs.
So you can stop this by controlling the ant population in your garden.
Don’t overlook this as this is one of the primary drivers of these infestations. there are many different ways to kill and manage and DIY style at home.
Whether or not you have carpenter ants, you can utilize the same techniques in the guide.
Use a powerful garden hose
You can blast away mealybugs with a powerful garden hose.
This method is often overlooked but it does seem to work relatively well for smaller infestations.
All you need to do is get a garden hose with a nozzle that has a spray, jet, or stream setting and blast mealybugs off your plants. That’s pretty much all there is to it.
For larger infestations, I would not recommend this because you may just be spraying the mealybugs into the soil and they’ll simply migrate over to another plant and continue their bad habits.
This is better if you just have a few plans that are indoors or outdoors. If you have indoor plants you can bring them outside, put them on the floor, and then blast them with your garden hose.
For those who have outdoor plants, you can just spray them directly with the hose and blast the pests.
This sounds pretty primitive but it works. If the plant is sensitive or fragile, you may end up damaging the plant with a strong stream of water. So be careful.
If you have a pressure washer, this can also work as well.
Here’s a pretty detailed video demonstrating some methods to get rid of them (via Summer Rayne Oakes):
Other ways to get rid of mealybugs
Here are a few other ways you can utilize at home to control and kill these pests. These methods are to be used after you use natural approaches.
Will soapy water kill mealybugs?
Yes, soapy water does kill mealybugs.
You should probably use dish soap and water to kill them. See my dish soap method up above for directions.
Will dish soap kill mealybugs?
Dish soap has always been an effective home remedy to get rid of pests.
The thing to keep in mind with this method is that not all plans can handle dish soap. If you have sensitive plans, be sure you test it in a small area before you go all out.
There’s soap will kill the mealybugs almost instantly so it’s something worth trying if you have a lot.
What you’ll need:
- Dish soap (¼ cup)
- Water (1 cup)
- Spray bottle
How to make it:
- Pour the dish soap into the spray bottle.
- Pour the water into the spray bottle.
- Chinese stir the mixture so that it mixes up well.
How to use it:
- With this mixture, just use it as a DIY insecticide.
- All you need to do is spray it directly onto the mealybugs that you see on your plants. When you spray them, they’ll die right away.
- After you spray down your plant, be sure to wipe it down with either a cotton ball or paper napkin dipped in water.
Be sure to clean up your plant
This is to remove any excess dish soap liquid from building up on your plant. If so, again, can be harmful to plants.
So this is why you want to remove it when you’re done applying it.
Wiping off the plant will also remove the dead mealybugs that you killed during the process. If you don’t remove mealybugs, this may attract other pests to the plant so you want to remove them afterward.
Repeat twice a week.
When you start to notice the population of mealybugs dwindle, you can try using a less harsh method. Consider using manual removal or rubbing alcohol at this point.
Dawn dish soap
Dawn dish soap seems to be the go-to dish soap for this kind of application.
For some reason, a lot of people just happen to prefer using Dawn brand to make their DIY insecticide at home.
But pretty much any dish soap works and you don’t have to necessarily use Dawn. You can use whatever dish detergent you have at home.
Is Dawn an insecticidal soap?
Dawn is not an insecticidal soap. It’s just your run-of-the-mill dish detergent.
Often, Dawn is used for DIY purposes for so long now that it’s gotten a reputation as a very effective insecticidal soap.
It’s worth trying out if you’re trying to make some kind of pesticide at home to manage mealybugs.
How to get rid of mealybugs in the soil and roots
If you have mealybugs in your soil I would suggest using a combination of the methods above.
You can first try dunking the plant roots in hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol.
This will be effective in killing the mealybugs that are currently on your roots. Manually remove any mealybugs you see during the process.
After that, use diatomaceous earth apply the DE to your potted plants, roots, or soil that lies around the roots of your plants.
This will help set up a nice barrier of DE to your potted plant’s roots, which should help control the mealybug population hiding in the soil.
The diatomaceous earth should help prevent future infestations and also help kill off current ones.
How to get rid of mealybugs in the pantry
if you have mealybugs in your pantry, they’re probably feeding on some kind of carbohydrate or sugar residue.
To get rid of them, you should make your own insecticidal soap at home.
You can read over the dish soap or neem oil approaches in this case. The nice thing about this is that you don’t have to worry about damaging any plants since they’re simply in your pantry.
You would want to remove all items from the pantry and carefully inspect them one-by-one for mealybug bug infestations. If you see mealybugs on the food items, dispose of them.
After you filter through your items, you want to treat your pantry for mealybugs by either using dish soap or neem oil. Both of these work well.
After that, set up some natural repellents such as essential oils. Then you can replace the food items to the pantry.
Be sure to inspect every single day to make sure that you’ve completely gotten rid of the mealybugs as you don’t want to be accidentally ingesting them.
There are dozens of commercial pesticides you buy from any hardware store.
Be sure to do your research first.
Try to avoid using synthetic or dangerous compounds since they’re harmful to the environment, you, and your pets.
Look for sprays that have pyrethrin as an active ingredient. Pyrethrin-based sprays seem to work best against these pests.
How to prevent mealybugs
Preventing mealybugs all comes from the source. If mealybugs are native to your area, it’ll be very difficult to prevent them other than to use natural repellents.
There are a few different ways you can repel them that I’ve already covered in this guide.
Check out the coffee grounds, neem oil, and essential oil approaches. These are all effective ways you can help prevent mealybugs from infesting your plants.
If you don’t have mealybugs native to your area, you can prevent them by inspecting new plants you bring into your garden.
Always quarantine your new plants
Never introduce a mealybug infested plant to your garden as this will easily have them spread to your other plants. So this all lies in your due diligence when you buy a new plant.
Do a thorough inspection of all new plants you introduced to your garden
Look for small cotton-like bugs and manually remove them, dip the roots of the plant in rubbing alcohol common dip the leaves and stems in rubbing alcohol, look for mealybugs on the underside of leaves and around the stems.
Thoroughly inspect the plant roots and pick off any white fuzzy bugs you see on them.
Put the plants in quarantine– away from your other plans for at least a week and do inspections daily.
Never use garden tools with your new plant and then directly onto your other plants, as this can transfer mealybugs from one plant to the other.
Use either a separate set of garden tools for your new quarantine plants or dunk your garden tools in rubbing alcohol before using them on your other plants.
Did you get rid of your mealybug problem?
You should now have all the knowledge you need to exterminate your current mealybug situation naturally.
With patience and persistence, you can effectively reduce or eliminate the mealybug problem on your plants. The trick is to use a variety of methods and see which one works best for your situation.
Not all of them will work. Use the ones that do work and scale them up. With proper management and control, you can get rid of the mealybugs you currently have.
Then use natural pesticides and repellents to kill off and prevent future infestations.
Always check new plants that you buy to make sure they are not currently infested with these pests.
Be patient and be persistent.
Given questions feel free to leave a comment below.
Or if you’ve dealt with mealybugs before, go ahead and leave your words of wisdom to help out others who are dealing with the same pests. If you found this guy to be helpful, let me know also.
Feel free to send it over to a friend who may be dealing with the same situation.
Thanks for reading!
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.