detailed mealy bug
cotton mealy bug on flower
adult mealy bug
Mealy bug nymphs
mealy bug insects and eggs

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.

Mealybug 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 or Damage of Mealybugs

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.

How to Control Mealybugs

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 their ant protectors:

  • Sevin Insect Killer Ready to Use2 kills mealybugs and ants on contact and simplifies precision treatments. The adjustable nozzle allows you to set the width of the spray from wide to narrow. Pay special attention to areas that shelter mealybugs beneath blooms or where branches and stems connect.
  • Sevin Insect Killer Lawn Granules kill and control mealybugs in lawn and garden settings and protect against mealybugs for up to three months. Broadcast the ready-to-use granules manually 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 a simple, economical way to treat mealybugs on larger plants and more extensive lawn and garden areas. Use with a pump-style sprayer to kill mealybugs by contact and keep protecting against mealybug damage for up to three months. Spray to cover all plant surfaces and visible pests thoroughly.

Mealybug Control 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 Use2. 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.


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