How To Get Rid Of Mealybugs, 8 Tricks To Control Mealybugs, Balcony Garden Web

How To Get Rid Of Mealybugs | 8 Tricks To Control Mealybugs

Learn how to get rid of mealybugs easily and effectively to keep your houseplants and tropical plants safe!

Mealybugs are not only the common sap-feeding pests but they’re also known for virus transmission.

Mealybugs are unarmored scale insects. They feed on plants’ vital sap by inserting their needle-like mouthpart (stylet) and leave their hosts sabotaged.

Where Do Mealy Bugs Come From?

They usually grow naturally in warm and humid climate. Whereas, in cold climates, mealybugs are less common and seen more in the spring and summer. They overwinter themselves as nymphs and eggs and spreads through previously infested plants when the temperature warms up. Ants spread the mealybugs infestation as well.

Ants Spread the Mealybugs Infestation

Mealybugs, like aphids and other scale insects, feed on the sap of the plants and excrete honeydew. Honeydew is the top food source for ants, and that’s why they protect mealybugs from predators and transport them to other plants. Thus, increasing the infestation. Also, this honeydew excretion promotes the sooty mold fungus on the affected areas of plants.

How To Identify Them

When these bugs start growing in number in a particular area, they develop a wax-like white, powdery coating upon themselves that shields them and protects their eggs. This covering makes them look like bulks of cotton. Also, a plant with mealybugs feeding on it looks malformed and weak. Yellowing leaves, dropping flowers, buds, and fruits can be the symptoms.

Where To Locate Mealybugs?

Mealybugs can be found on any part of the plants, but they prefer the tender new growth and grow on the concealed areas. Look for them around stem joints, under the leaves and barks, in crevices and other less exposed parts of the plant.

Which Plants Are Most Affected?

These pesky pests affect a variety of vegetations, especially the tropical and subtropical plants. Your greenhouse plants, houseplants, summer annuals, ornamentals like hibiscus and gardenia, and fruit trees like citrus, grape, guava, and mango are most targeted.

How To Get Rid Of Mealybugs

1. First and foremost, be watchful while planting. Make sure you don’t use already infected plantlets or potting soil.

2. Inspect your plants regularly as spotting bugs as early as possible is very helpful. Use water spurts to get rid of preparatory infestations.

3. Don’t overwater or keep your plant wet. As stated above, these bugs tend to breed faster in moist, humid conditions.

4. Pruning may also help to eliminate these cotton mass insects. Wipe the leaves and petioles that look infected, or simply pluck them off. This will help control their spreading.

5. Add 1 1/2 tablespoon of Neem oil, 1 tablespoon of mild liquid soap in a liter of lukewarm water. Fill this solution in a spray bottle and spray this on the affected plants. This treatment can eradicate the mealybugs and any other kind of pest infestation or fungal growth, gradually, after a few uses.
The neem oil insecticide is natural, highly effective and safe.

6. Insecticidal soap or any liquid soap that is free from scents and additives that can harm the plant may be used to wash the mealybugs away. Mix 2 tablespoons of soap (increase the amount further according to the severity of infestation) in a gallon of water and spray.

7. Minor outbreaks can also be cleared with some alcohol on q-tips. Furthermore, a combination of rubbing alcohol with soapy water can be sprayed on the plants. The recipe is here to follow!

8. Insects that eat mealybugs can serve as the ‘guardians’ of your garden. Ladybugs, pirate bugs, lacewings, etc. are all very helpful for protection against mealybugs.

Mealybug on an orchid: how to get rid of pests and remedies

The appearance of a mealybug on orchids is a real disaster for gardeners, because getting rid of the parasite is very difficult. Despite the fact that there are no problems with the detection of an insect, plant lovers note the fact that even repeated treatments do not guarantee the complete destruction of the worm.

Insects choose for their habitat weakened plants contained in violation of the conditions:

  • inappropriate temperature conditions;
  • insufficient or excessive lighting;
  • improper feeding.

Infection with a mealybug

The most popular among the mealybug are orchids, which in excess receive fertilizers containing a large amount of nitrogen.

Domestic flowers are attacked by the parasite mainly in winter. At this time, there is a decrease in daylight hours, and orchids lack natural light. Some plant lovers forget about the backlight, in addition, the humidity indicator changes, because the heating system begins to work.

However, in the summer, no one is safe from the appearance of insects. Ideal conditions for the worm are created at elevated temperatures from +23 to + 27 ° C, especially if the plants are not sprayed on time.

The parasite can enter the house in the following ways:

  • the orchid purchased at the store is already infected;
  • the ants brought the larvae into the room;
  • the wind also carries insects;
  • the soil mixture contains larvae.

Mealybug on an orchid

Having dealt with the ways of the appearance of the mealybug on the orchid, it is worth talking about the symptoms that appear on plants:

  • buds, flowers, young pagons are covered with fluffy white lumps, under which the females lay their eggs;
  • leaf plates and petals are covered with a sticky secret;
  • deformation of plant parts;
  • the appearance of brown-brown spots, as well as putrefactive patches.

The family of Semi-winged includes more than 2200 different species, this also includes the pest of orchids. Most of all, plants suffer from bristly and citrus worms. It is worth getting acquainted with these parasites in more detail.


Adult individuals have the shape of the body of a long oval of about 3.5 mm. The color may be orange or pinkish, there must be a white coating. The parasite has well-developed limbs, which allows it to easily move from one plant to another. Most often, the worm can be found on the lower sides of the leaves, in their sinuses. Pests live in colonies.

Notice the bristle worm is quite simple — after it remains a white powdery coating and waxy formations similar to cotton lumps, they are also white. After damage, the leaves begin to turn yellow and subsequently fall off.


Individuals have a variety of color variations; there are both light yellow and brown. It is typical for females to secrete a sweet secretory fluid, which is also called the paddy. Males have the ability to fly, look like flies, having a yellow and pink color.

To remove parasites is not as simple as it seems. When adverse conditions occur, insects secrete a large amount of wax, which will protect them from the effects of chemicals. Eggs cover cotton fibers from harm.

If a mealybug is found on orchids, then the plants must be isolated from others. As for the methods of struggle, it is necessary to look at the degree of spread of the infection.

Flowers, buds or peduncles populated by parasites must be removed. Some types of flowers have pseudobulbs that cover dry flakes. These growths are also removed, the bulb is treated with alcohol deposited on a cotton swab. This measure allows you to get rid of larvae, which are difficult to notice due to the microscopic size.

Good to know. If the lesion is significant, then it is necessary to trim the foliage. The external data of the plant will be spoiled, but the flower will save its life. It is worth considering that the leaves stay on the orchid for an average of 2-3 years, then they begin to dry and die. This process is quite natural.

The fight begins with the removal of the worm mechanically. The insects along with cotton bags are removed using tweezers, then destroyed. Places where worms were found must be disinfected, using alcohol tincture, the plant itself is thoroughly washed. Thanks to this procedure, sweet secretory fluid and remaining pests are removed. To wipe the leaves, a soap solution and a cotton swab are used.

On a note. Particular attention should be paid to plants located near an infected orchid. They must be examined all month. If the first signs of a worm are detected, then it is urgent to start treatment.

Folk remedies for mealybug

Mealybug on an orchid how to get rid of? You can cure the plant using proven products that do not contain chemical components. There are soap, alcohol, Pancake week and other types of infusions.

Preparation of soap solution, folk recipe:

  • powdered soap — 20 grams;
  • warm water — 1 liter;
  • alcohol — 1 tablespoon.

Mix and dissolve the components in water. The tool is used to wipe the leaves, it helps to remove parasites. Particular attention should be paid to the location of the parasite’s cocoons.

Mechanical processing of plants

Garlic infusion

For cooking you will need:

  • garlic — several large cloves;
  • boiling water — ½ liter;
  • cloves of garlic in crushed form pour boiling water and insist for 4 hours.

Before using the decoction, it must be filtered. A brush is dipped into the product, with its help the whole plant is treated.

Horsetail infusion

A quick way to get rid of the mealybug is to use a solution with horsetail. The grass itself is purchased in a pharmacy store and diluted with water in a ratio of 1: 1. Infusion needs to spray plants.

Vegetable oil

You can use both olive and sunflower oil. It is bred in the amount of 2 tablespoons in water (1 liter). Leaves are treated with a brush or spray.

Tip. Washing the window sills and containers for plants with soapy water will help prevent re-infection after treatment.

Chemicals for the destruction of the worm

Chemistry comes to the rescue in those cases if after machining or folk methods there are no results. You can purchase the necessary preparations in a specialized gardening store.

As for how to use the products, before helping orchids, you need to carefully study the instructions that are on the packages or inside them. In those cases, if a very large amount of the final solution is indicated, then ½ of the proposed volume is taken to reduce the dosage. It is convenient to measure liquid products with a syringe having the right volume.

Which drug to choose

To date, there is a huge number of chemical developments, the most effective action in the following:

The listed products are toxic, therefore, during use, you must be careful and take care of personal protective equipment, such as gloves and a bathrobe. If the drugs got on the mucous membrane, then the place is washed with a large amount of running water. For persistent pain and redness, consult a doctor.

The use of drugs in full accordance with the instructions will avoid overdosing and causing harm to the plant. An increase in the amount of the product or the multiplicity of treatments in an unauthorized manner leads to the fact that the orchid receives chemical burns.

All of these tools help fight insects.

When a parasite appears in the roots, the process of decay can begin, which will lead to the death of the plant. To rid a flower of insects, you must:

  • Remove the orchid from the pot, clean from the substrate;
  • The product is diluted, according to the instructions, in a container of a suitable size where the plant is then placed. Processing time should be indicated, if not, then 20 minutes will be enough;

Important! Processing is carried out several times. The plant itself is between the procedures in a pot (it must be new and clean) without soil.

Any disease is always easier to prevent than to cure, because there are a number of measures to prevent the appearance of a mealybug:

  1. Acquired orchids must be quarantined for 14 days to make sure that the plants are healthy.
  2. Periodic inspections of flowers for pests. Small worm colonies are much easier to destroy.
  3. Monitoring the correct conditions of detention. Healthy plants are rarely attacked by parasites.

The appearance of diseases and pests on orchids is not a reason for panic. First of all, problem instances are isolated, and treatment begins. Worms in the larval stage even survive chemical treatment; plants need to be returned to their permanent location only after they have fully recovered.

White Stuff on Orchids

White Stuff on Orchids

Related Articles

Most orchids are tropical plants that thrive in warm climates. For instance, Phalaenopsis orchids grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 and 11. However, the appearance of white stuff on their foliage, flowers and stems can destroy their appearance. At first glance, white fluff on orchids may seem like a diseased growth, but pests are the likely culprit. Known as mealybugs, they’ll go away only if you employ rigorous control methods.

Mealybug Appearance

If you notice fuzzy white patches on orchid foliage, you probably have a mealybug infestation. These pests are almost too small to spot with the naked eye; they’re typically less than 1/5 inch long, with waxy secretions and a whitish coloring. Some also have long tails that resemble antennae. The immature crawlers look similar but are smaller, making them even harder to see.

Other Signs of Infestation

To make sure your diagnosis of mealybugs is correct, inspect flowers, buds and foliage for evidence of mealybug feeding. The main sign is yellowing leaves that eventually drop after they die, though other problems can cause this, too. A more specific sign is honeydew, which mealybugs leave in their wake and is sticky to the touch. Eventually, this honeydew can attract ants and dark mold.

Quick Fix

An easy way to kill mealybugs is swabbing them with isopropyl rubbing alcohol. If you don’t want to target mealybugs directly with a cotton ball dipped in the rubbing alcohol, you can use a toothbrush to scrub them off. Don’t neglect the folds of leaves and hard-to-reach spots, which are favorite hiding places for mealybug eggs.

Long-Term Control

To control a large infestation of mealybugs and keep them away in the future, you’ll need to do more than just spot-treat your orchid. The first step is repotting affected orchids, because the potting medium may be home to more eggs that can lead to a second infestation. For natural control, thoroughly coat orchids in insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Otherwise, you can treat affected orchids with synthetic insecticides concocted specifically for ornamental plants. Because these can occasionally cause damage to flowers and buds, they are a last resort for stubborn infestations.

Controlling Mealybugs on Orchid

by Anu Dharmani

Originally published in BellaOnline

Posted by Sys Admin over 3 years ago.

It is now mealybugs turning up to trouble me and my plants, though luckily enough it was one plant ‘Tecoma’ (yellow bells, ghanti phul) which was attacked. My orchids are safe for now, but in case orchids also get infected by these pests then there are numerous ways to get rid of them.

Mealybugs attack many plants, including orchids especially Phalaenopsis and are among . These pests are gray coloured having soft bodies which is covered by white cottony mass.

Where to find them
1. These appear as tiny balls of cotton on the leaf axils. You might even find them on the stems, stem joints, or even the underside of the leaves.
2. In the preliminary stages of infection, they occur at the leaf axils.

Damage Caused by mealybugs
1. As they suck the nutrient containing sap from the plant, it weakens the plant. You will find the leaves drying and falling, same will happen to the flowers.
2. They form associations with ants. Ants get nectar from the mealybugs while in turn ants protect the bugs from predators. These ants can cause extensive damage to the flowers and soft new leaves.

How to Control the infection:
1. It is very important to isolate the infected orchid, otherwise the pest will spread to other healthy plants as well.
2. These pests can be controlled biologically by introducing natural enemies like the ladybird (especially, the spotless type), parasitic wasp, lacewings (beware, these can give irritating bites too). These are commercially available.
3. Neem oil is also helpful in controlling these pests. Four to five teaspoons of neem oil can be mixed in four litres of water and can be sprayed on the infected orchids. I came across an effective home remedy of spraying a mix of garlic flakes and mineral oil on the mealybugs.
3. Using insecticidal soap or rubbing isopropyl alcohol on affected areas can be helpful.
4. It is difficult to control mealybugs in orchids, using chemical based pesticides. However, spraying parathion or malathion on mealybugs has shown some results. Please use insecticides only in case of large scale pest infections.
5. Repeat these control methods after three to four days, depending upon the scale of infection. Insecticides should be used according to the instructions provided on the container.
6. In my case, I removed the infected areas of the plant (leaf axils and some portion of the stem) along with the mealybugs. The bugs have not returned since three weeks now (though my fingers are still crossed!).

Points to keep in mind
1. Ants are known to from friendly association with mealybugs. Ants deterred the natural enemies of mealybugs, so controlling ant populations is important for effectively controlling the mealybugs by biological methods.
2. Use only clean sterilized tools while working with plants.
3. When watering do not leave the orchid in water for very long. If you are watering orchids by dipping them in water then make sure that they dry off, especially the leaves and stems. Dipping in water should also be avoided during hot and humid weather conditions. This is because extra water on the orchid is like and open invitation to pests and bacteria.

Note: Restrict the use of chemical pesticide. Many insecticide producing companies are hiding the facts from us about the harmful effect of these chemicals on other insects, especially the bees! If you are planning to use biological and chemical control methods side by side then you might see only a limited success. As the chemical pesticides do not discriminate between friendly and harmful insects.

1. McKenzie, Howard Lester. 1967. MealyBugs of California: With Taxonomy, Biology, and control of North American species (Homoptera, Coccoidea, Pseudococcidae).Berkeley, California: University of California.
2. Flint. ML, Dreistadt. SH, and Clark, KC. 1999. Natural Enemies Handbook: The Illustrated Guide to Biological Pest Control. UCANR Publications.

How to Care for Orchids – Pests and Diseases : Mealybugs

Question: What is that white stuff on my orchids?

Answer: Mealybugs!

Mealybugs are serious pests of orchids and next to scale insects are probably the most difficult to control pests of orchids. Most definitely, they need to be dealt with immediately upon discovery.

The damage done to plants by mealybugs is considerable, causing a loss of vigor and a weakening and loss of leaves, buds, and flowers through their feeding. In addition, mealybugs create copious amounts of honeydew which make plant parts sticky and attracts ants. (Want to get rid of ants? Check out the other posts in my How to Care for Orchids – Pests and Disease series.)

Probably the most popular home remedy against mealybugs is to swab and daub plants with a cotton-tipped swab or ball of cotton dipped in isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. On hard-leaved plants, gentle rubbing with the fingers, a cotton ball, cotton-tipped swab, or a soft infants toothbrush is effective. Remove all mealybugs, large and small. Afterwards, you will still need to repeat the alcohol treatment to remove the tiny yellowish spots which are the recently hatched crawlers. Pay particular attention to the folds, crotches, branch bases, midrib areas, and roots. Spraying the alcohol with a misting bottle or small pump sprayer is effective, but dribbling alcohol into tight areas is necessary as eggs are often well hidden, hence the need for thoroughness and repititon.

Many home growers will mix with alcohol a small amount of mild liquid dish detergent, and sometimes mineral oil, neem concentrate , or horticultural oil. Vegetable oils will work, too, but in sunlight they can turn rancid quickly, and become smelly and lose effectiveness. One recipe for a 1.5 liter spray bottle is to mix a 50:50 solution of isopropyl and water, with a few drops to about a teaspoon of liquid soap to act as a spreader, and a teaspoon of one of the oils.

ps. Don’t forget to check out Ryan’s Free Growing Orchids Tips. He offers incredible advice all about Orchid Pests & Diseases!

Warmest wishes from sunny Florida,

The Orchid Care Lady

+ Courtesy of South Dakota State University

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2 Responses to “How to Care for Orchids – Pests and Diseases : Mealybugs”

you mean, i actually might have to touch those things? do they infect anything else besides orchids?

and just where did they come from? I’ve had this orchid for several weeks and just only recently discovered these tiny white fuzz and now actual bug looking things… eek.

i thought it was a problem b/c i put this particular orchid in the bathroom and i wondered if the fuzz was because of too much humidity?

where is the best place to put my orchids?

please respond and i continue a further search of your site, too – thanks

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