Mealybug 101

If you’ve ever noticed small sticky white, segmented, cottony critters along a stem, leaf vein or the underside of leaves of your indoor plants or cactus and succulents you’ve likely encountered mealybugs. In small numbers they are relatively easy to control and manage, but when a heavy infestation occurs, they nestle into every crevice and surface they can attach to. These plant-juice sucking insects tend to latch on to plants that are already under stress but are not limited to just unhealthy plants, and cause yellowing and leaf curling. Mealybugs also produce a honeydew that can also result in a sooty mold growth.

 

A female mealybug can deposit over 300 eggs, when not kept in check. Eggs will hatch in 1-2 weeks, and the nymphs crawl to new growth and settle in at the adult stage to repeat the cycle. Checking your plants regularly, cleaning leaf surfaces and observing the underside of the leaves will aid in preventing pest infestations. Other methods of control include pruning, hand-picking, apply rubbing alcohol with a q-tip to aid in removal (especially in tight situations), insecticidal soap, Neem oil (not readily available for pest control in Canada) or Mealybug Destroyer (beneficial insect predator available commercially).