For farmers and gardeners, mealybugs are among the most damaging types of pests infesting plants in certain areas. They suck on plant juices, damaging and weakening the plant.
Mealy bugs appear in masses as white cotton clusters on leaves, stalks, and around the base of plants.
They are often confused with aphids and large infestations can kill a plant. Not only know the signs of their presence but the best ways to get rid of them.
Mealybugs are very prolific, with one female producing hundreds of eggs, protected in one sac. When they hatch, they turn into nymphs, which is the most destructive phase .
The nymphs will swarm all over plants. They suck out the sap at the same time as the remaining adults are also still feeding.
The males cannot feed for very long. Males survive only long enough to fertilize other female bugs and then die. The females also die not long after laying their eggs.
How to Get Rid of Mealybugs Naturally
Below are 11 natural home remedies and aids to control or destroy these white bugs on plants.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a well-known mealybug control method. Use it as a watered-down solution to spray on plants and surrounding soil.
Mix a mild solution of one part ACV to four parts water.
However, this method may need repeating several times as the solution should be mild to avoid plant damage.
2. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is an effective natural remedy against pests. It is a white powdery substance from the fossils of tiny marine creatures.
DE is a killer for all kinds of destructive insects, including these tiny white fuzzy bugs. It is a great home remedy for mealybugs because it dehydrates and kills them within 24 hours.
Moreover, it is safe to sprinkle the powder all over the plants, especially under leaves where the pests hide. You can also spread it around the base of plants or make a spray out of it.
A good way to prevent mealybugs from spreading is to cut back infected plants and shrubs. Burn the foliage afterward. Pruning will also help to strengthen the plants and make them more resistant to attack.
4. Soapy Water
A soapy water solution is an easy way to treat or start dealing with white plant mites. Almost any household dish soap is suitable; however, we recommend using organic liquid soap.
For this homemade mealy bug spray recipe, mix one tablespoon of liquid soap in a quart of water. Spray the affected areas and hose or wash off the plants afterward.
Soapy water will kill the critters. Alternatively, try a ready-made insecticidal soap.
5. Beneficial Insects
Organic methods and careful planting of attractive flowers like marigolds and rosemary should encourage mealybug-eating insects. These predatory insects include ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps.
It is even possible to buy these helpful creatures to introduce them to the garden to eat away pest problems.
However, Cryptolaemus montrouzieri (mealybug destroyer) is probably the most effective predator for the critters.
6. Essential Oils
There are many essential oils to try out, but studies reveal that the most effective comes from citrus peels .
Some oils can damage plants if overused, but orange and lemon appeared successful with minimal damage.
Additionally, other oils from herbs can work, with peppermint being incredibly beneficial.
7. Neem Oil
Neem oil is a natural insecticide and fungicide produced from the seeds of the Neem tree.
Diluted and sprayed on plants and soil, it disrupts the life cycle of mealybugs and many other pests. Also, it will not harm beneficial insects and the all-important honeybee population as they do not chew on leaves.
To make a DIY mealybug treatment, combine one ounce of neem oil and two teaspoons of liquid soap in a gallon of water. Shake well and spray on affected areas.
8. Control Ants
Ants love mealybugs because of the residual honeydew they bring. The ants increase the bugs’ survival. They act as carriers for them, redistributing them around the garden.
You can use various organic methods to eliminate ants and destroy their nests and trails.
9. Debug Turbo
Debug Turbo is a great insecticide for mealy bugs, with several active ingredients, including neem oil. The treatment works by disrupting the life cycle of these white insects on your plants and a host of other pests.
Spray this mealy bug pesticide all over and under plants and shrubs and the surrounding soil.
In bad infestations, spray your lawn as well. Repeat applications, especially in the spring.
Gargoil is also an organic pesticide and fungicide controlling many types of bugs and eliminating mildew.
The active ingredients are concentrated cinnamon oil and garlic, which are harmless to most beneficial insects.
11. Hose Them
A quick and natural home remedy for mealybugs, if only a temporary one.
A special hose can be purchased at most online and retail stores. Besides, any garden hose used with care to blast away the pests will work.
How a Mealybug Infestation Develops
Only adult males have the ability to fly. However, mostly, mealy bugs crawl around and eat through from one plant to another. You will find them outdoors as well as indoors, including greenhouse spaces.
As they feed, they excrete honeydew that attracts other pests and can also cause a sooty mold to develop. The honeydew is particularly appealing to ants, which protects the mealybugs from attacks from other insects.
They also transmit viruses to plants .
Plants Vulnerable to Attacks
Mealybug damage can be seen in houseplants and those on the outside. Also, greenhouses are often affected.
The critters will attack almost any plant, flowers as well as vegetables, and fruits. The jade plant, crepe myrtle, cactus, orchids, and other succulents are particularly vulnerable.
The return to organic methods of gardening and agriculture helps to re-establish natural means of controlling pests.
Mealybugs are just one of the many insect pests that harm plants; however, you can effectively control them by employing the remedies above.