Mealybug – prevention and control measures – Beautiful indoor plants

Another pest that should be discussed in detail is the mealybug. Some people think that he is not particularly dangerous, but this is not at all the case. Mealybugs are capable of harm both in greenhouses and in rooms and even in open ground, sucking juice from plants, oppressing them, contributing to their loss of appearance, harvest, and a decrease in immunity. All this can lead to damage to these plants by other diseases and pests. We will tell you about the measures of prevention and control of mealybugs in the article.

Mealybug. Farmer Katarina Christenson


What is a mealybug?

The mealybug can begin to suck out cell sap from flower crops, fruit plants, as well as technical crops and even those that grow in greenhouses. Often, having a greenhouse or greenhouse on your site that are devoid of this pest, buying new planting material, you, without realizing it, can bring the pest with it to your site and infect both the soil and plants with it. Given all this, the fight against mealybugs must be carried out and the sooner the better.

The mealybug, from the English Mealybug or the Latin Pseudococcidae, causes little noticeable harm to plants, it does not eat parts of a leaf like a naked slug, or gnaws out the seed chambers like a moth, but continuously affects literally all parts of the plant, from fruits to stems and leaf blades, and even flowers with ovaries.

The whole action of the mealybug is banal and it consists in the suction (sometimes in significant volumes) of life-giving sap from plants, while releasing the results of their vital activity in the form of sweet, sugary secretions, which, like the secretions of aphids, are very fond of ants and on which, again , as well as the secretion of aphids, the sooty fungus, which spoils the appearance of the plant, actively sits down.

This pest got its interesting name “mealybug” because, being at the larval stage, as well as being in an adult state, the body of a mealybug is covered with a whitish, flour-like waxy discharge, as well as quite clearly visible hairs.

Features of the reproduction of mealybug

It turns out that the significant spread of this pest is facilitated by the increased air temperature for a given season, as well as excessive doses of various fertilizers in the soil, including a large amount of nitrogen fertilizers, which leads to a general weakening of the plant’s body, that is, to a decrease in its immunity.

Few people know that in open ground and unprotected in just one season, up to two generations of individuals of this pest can hatch in the spring-summer period. In closed ground, that is, in greenhouses, hotbeds and the like, even more individuals may appear, this also applies to closed rooms where flower crops are grown.

You need to know that only one female mealybug is capable of laying up to six hundred eggs per season, which, you see, is a lot. The female lays eggs in a special bag, which she constructs herself from wax-like secretions. The hatched larvae are very tenacious and mobile, some gardeners and gardeners jokingly call them “vagabonds”, because they practically do not sit still.

As soon as these same vagrant caterpillars, incessantly moving, collide with an object suitable for their life, which can be easily used for nutritional purposes, they immediately begin to use it for food. The mealybug will change the place of its feeding only after biologically necessary molting or only when there is an urgent need for it, say, the food on this site runs out or a huge number of competitors appears nearby and a banal struggle for coexistence begins.

Before starting to lay eggs, the female mealybug chooses a place for this for a rather long period, giving preference to the most nutritious and safe area. It is attracted, first of all, by various mechanical damages on plants: lagging bark, decayed parts of plants, various cracks. In general, any areas where there is a short-term or long-term moist and warm environment, ideal for their reproduction.

Propagating in such conditions, mealybugs damage a huge number of plants, both in open and protected soil (hotbeds, greenhouses, etc.). Once again, we repeat – in order not to bring the mealybug to your site, be sure to inspect the planting material, and ideally, first plant these plants in small areas of the garden, forming the so-called quarantine plantings to check them.

Agave leaves affected by mealybugAgave leaves infected with mealybug. Farmer Scot Nelson

Mealybug harm

Literally at all stages of their development, mealybugs feed, and quite actively, with plant sap, somehow affecting or damaging young shoots, young leaves, flower buds, and only occasionally – skeletal shoots and annual growths in the garden.

In the presence of a large number of worms on one fruit plant, their vital activity can lead to the fact that the trunk of skeletal branches can begin to crack, ulcers will actively form, and even yellow spots suddenly appear on the leaf blades, which subsequently grow a little and lead to the fact that leaf blades turn yellow.

Naturally, such a mealybug’s vital activity cannot remain invisible: the plants affected by it lose most of their decorative effect, are quite inhibited in growth and development, stop in flowering or may not exist at all, as well as the formation of fruits and, in fact, fruiting, and if the plants are not treated, they will certainly die.

Worms eat much more than they need. All the excess food that they ate without measure, they banally excrete, driving through themselves, in the form of honeydew. A sooty fungus quickly settles on these secretions and begins to develop there. As a result, the surface of the plants, where the sooty fungus has settled, begins to darken and becomes almost black. What does this threaten the plants, in addition to the unsightly appearance: there is a significant decrease and inhibition of photosynthetic processes occurring in plants, their respiration worsens.

But that’s not all, the mealybug actively secretes sweet honeydew, and ants from all over the area run to it, like a sweet span of aphids, and stand up against predatory insects that can eat the mealybug. It is not uncommon for ants to even drag the eggs of mealybugs from one place to another so that they would not be destroyed.

Of course, the mealybug most of all loves decorative plants, especially those with an excessively large vegetative mass, that is, they are corny overfed with nitrogen, weakened, with reduced immunity. And it doesn’t matter whether they are in open or sheltered ground (greenhouses, hotbeds, etc.). However, in an ordinary garden, the pest is sometimes very rampant.

Ants - defenders of mealybugsAnts are the protectors of mealybugs. Farmer Brissy Girl – Jan Anderson

Preventive measures against mealybug

So, if you want to prevent mealybugs from getting to your site, before you buy a young seedling, take a good look at it to see if it has painful spots. Further, after the purchase, the plant must be quarantined, that is, place it somewhere at a distance and observe it. Usually, if the plant is infected, then males of this pest can appear near it, they will begin to move freely around the site and carefully examine the branches and leaf blades.

Of the more effective than a simple inspection, preventive measures can be called the organization of a periodic warm shower (watering with water at a temperature of about +30 degrees) and rinsing with water at a temperature of about 50 degrees of windows in a garden greenhouse.

Naturally, we must not forget about the removal of dried and damaged parts of plants for some reason. If you notice plants that are only occasionally damaged by a mealybug, then it can be removed with ordinary tweezers or brushed into any container with a hard brush. Plants, which by their nature have a rather dense epidermis, however, devoid of wax plaque, must be treated as follows: dip a brush previously soaked in kerosene in alcohol or ordinary soap solution for a couple of seconds and wipe all green areas of the plant with this brush.

A secondary measure of the fight against mealybug is the destruction of the anthills located there. Anthills can be destroyed in three ways – pour boiling water over them, which is not at all humane, use insecticides, which, among other things, can also harm the environment, and simply collect all the ants in a dense plastic bag and take them far beyond the site, and release there (a more humane way).

Mealybugs and common sticky traps can help. Given the biological peculiarity of male mealybugs to fly into the light at night, all you need to do is fix sticky strips near the light source and leave the latter on overnight. The males will stick to these strips, you just have to periodically update these strips.

Folk remedies against mealybug

We talked about some folk remedies, we will name a few more. For example, a very effective folk remedy for controlling mealybugs is a solution of laundry soap. For these purposes, you can use either 18-20 g of antibacterial soap, or a half piece of laundry soap and dilute it all in a liter of water. The resulting solution should be allowed to brew for a day, then it should be diluted in half and treated with mealybug affected plants, with an interval of once every 8-9 days.

Another option for a natural remedy: you need to take 150 g of dry horsetail and pour 1,5 liters of boiling water, then bring it to room temperature and, without diluting, you can start treating the affected plants.

A very good option is a mixture of a liter of water and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, you can spray the plants directly with this solution.

Those who used the following method speak very well of it: you need to take a solution of soap shavings by rubbing about 10 g of soap on a grater, then pour it with a small amount of water (0,5 liters) warmed up to room temperature, stir thoroughly and add as much water to get a liter of solution, also at room temperature. It remains to add about 20 ml of alcohol or, much better, vodka and mix everything thoroughly.

Before using this drug, you must carefully cover the soil with a non-woven covering material so that the solution does not get into the soil. Plants can be processed every other day, and then water the plants well with sprinkling and only then remove the non-woven covering material. This treatment can be carried out once a week for maximum effect.

And another quick and pretty good way to deal with mealybugs: you need to take six or seven cloves of young hot garlic and finely chop or crush it, then pour 0,5 liters of boiling water over the gruel and let it brew in a closed container for 3-5 hours … After this time, the infusion must be filtered through cheesecloth and can be used to treat mealybug-infected plants.

Warm scent of plants is a good prophylaxis against mealybugWarm scent of plants is a good prophylaxis against mealybugs. Farmer Scot Nelson

Fight mealybugs with chemistry

If sparing folk remedies do not help, then you can safely take up chemistry, alas, there is no other way. The maximum effect from the use of chemicals can be observed at a time when the pest is still very young, when their body is not covered with protective wax.

However, not everything is so simple here: at the same time, on the same plant, mealybugs can be observed in completely different stages of their development. In this regard, it is appropriate to use insecticides not once, but three or four times with an interval of a couple of weeks, or even ten days, if the infection is especially strong.

Before using chemistry, inspect the plants again: so, if there are few colonies, then it is quite possible to remove them corny by simply cutting off the infected loops with the colonies with scissors or cleaning them with a toothbrush with dense villi, but if there are a lot of colonies, then they are not from the site take away.

It is usually understood that there are offspring and it thrives when the corpse of a female mealybug is found, which means that the offspring may be somewhere nearby. The offspring of the mealybug is most active in the first 25-30 hours, this is the ideal time for applying pesticides of contact action, but it is not always possible to accurately determine this time.

Grown up insects with a protective wax cover actively feed at this time and it can be difficult to exterminate them. In this case, it is most appropriate to use drugs of systemic action, which penetrate precisely into the sap-conducting system of an individual, for example, “Fufanon”, “Doctor”, “Novaktion”, “Kemifos”, “Tagor”, “Danadim”, “Expert” and others. For greater effect, we do not recommend using the same drugs every time, it is better to change them annually.

That’s all we wanted to tell you about the mealybug in the garden. If you have your own methods of dealing with this pest, we will be grateful if you share them in the comments to the article.

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Anna Evans

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