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Mealybugs appear as small white or pinkish, cottony masses in leaf axils, on the undersides of leaves and on the stems.  You may see sticky trails of honeydew on the leaves which contributes to the growth of a sooty mold and another problem for your plant.  Plants will become stunted, and parts may begin to die.  Before treatment be sure your plant is well hydrated and not stressed by under watering.

Control:  Isolate infected plant(s) and cover any tables or carpet, etc. that may receive any over-spray if using soap or oil sprays.

cottony mass from mealybug

cottony mass from mealybug

Begin treatment by using cotton swabs or a soft cloth dipped in an diluted alcohol solution and gently wipe them off.  They are relatively easy to get rid of as they are extremely slow and do not fly.

A mild soapy water solution can be sprayed on both the tops and undersides of the leaves, the stems and any flower buds.  The following day you can spray with clear water to rinse off the soap and lessen the risk of damage to leaves.  Remove remaining pests with cotton swabs in alcohol solution as above or repeat spray every 4-7 days depending upon the sensitivity of the leaves until mealy bugs are gone.

Systemic insecticides can be used if necessary.  Systemic insecticides are water soluble and can be administered to the soil.  The roots absorb the insecticide and the insect will feed on it along with the sap.  Always read instructions on purchased products before use and be certain it is appropriate for the plant and the insect you have.

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