Mealybugs are major outdoor garden pests that often cause significant trouble for houseplants, too. Close relatives of scale insects, these small, soft-bodied insects get their name from the white, powdery, meal-like wax that covers adult females. Like aphids, mealybugs can reproduce without mating. Their numbers can soar if left unchecked. Some species feed on plant roots, but most mealybugs damage plants above the soil line. Multiple generations of these pests occur in a single season.
Identification: Mealybug species vary considerably in size, ranging from 1/20 to 1/5 inch long. Their oval bodies, ringed with waxy filaments, have distinct parallel segments. The waxy-white, slow-moving, wingless females typically feed in large, sticky colonies. Nymphs, known as crawlers, hatch from cottony masses of yellow-orange eggs. Crawlers vary in color from whitish yellow to red until they begin excreting whitish wax.
Signs/Damage: Mealybugs weaken plants by sucking juices from plant stems and leaves. Damaged plants wilt, curl and discolor. Leaves may drop prematurely, and fruit may fail to form properly. Twigs and small branches may die back. Mealybugs excrete a sweet substance known as honeydew, which often develops into black sooty mold. Ants, which feed on honeydew, often accompany mealybug infestations.
Control: Maximize the impact of mealybug treatment by starting in late spring as eggs hatch. Nymphs are most vulnerable before they develop waxy protection. Ants often protect mealybugs to keep the honeydew flowing. Effective control treats them as well. GardenTech® brand offers several highly effective outdoor products to kill mealybugs – and ants – by contact and keep protecting for up to three months.
- Sevin® Insect Killer Ready to Use simplifies treating individual plants with precision. The adjustable nozzle allows you to set the width of the spray. Pay special attention to “protected" areas beneath blooms or where branches and stems connect.
- Sevin® Insect Killer Granules kill and control mealybugs in lawn and garden settings. Broadcast the ready-to-use granules for spot treatments or use a regular lawn spreader for larger areas. Water immediately after application to release the active ingredients into the grass and soil.
- Sevin® Insect Killer Concentrate provides an simple, economical way to treat mealybugs on larger plants and more extensive lawn and garden areas. Use with a pump-style sprayer, and cover all plant surfaces and visible pests thoroughly.
Tip: Indoor mealybug infestations can spread through houseplants quickly. To treat houseplants, take them outdoors and spray all plant parts thoroughly with Sevin® Insect Killer Ready to Use. Allow the spray to dry completely before bringing houseplants back indoors.
Always read product labels and follow the instructions carefully, including guidelines for pre-harvest intervals on vegetables and fruits.
GardenTech is a registered trademark of Gulfstream Home and Garden, Inc.
Sevin is a registered trademark of Tessenderlo Kerley, Inc.