How to Get Rid of Mealybugs on Your Plants

How to Get Rid of Mealybugs on Your Plants

The plague that has decimated the gardens and houseplants of the world is called mealybug. It is capable of eating innocent and defenseless plants without mercy. These tiny, waxy crawlers will eat any plant they can find, even those you have spent so much time growing. You can save your indoor and outdoor plants as well as your greenhouse by knowing how to eliminate mealybugs.

The Mealybug is a common pest. They are a soft-bodied, cottony scale insect belonging to the Pseudococcidae Family. This might lead to a small white spot on your plants.

Mealybugs are dangerous because they sucking out the sap of plants, draining them from vital nutrients and water, and leaving behind a residue which attracts pests and mold. Mealybugs can cause severe damage to your plants and spread diseases.

How to get rid of mealybugs

There are many ways to eliminate mealybugs. Natural methods are more effective than synthetic pesticides, and they are better for your plants. These methods are usually applied as sprays but some can be used in soil drenches.

Potted plants should be changed after any visible insects have been eliminated. After repotting, clean the pot thoroughly, regardless of how it was done. This is where mealybugs lay eggs.

Here are some methods to combat mealybugs. You can choose from one or more of these methods at once, but you should be cautious with them all to avoid stressing your plants. These methods can be used for both indoor and outside plants. Sprays that are water-absorbing, such as orchids, should be avoided.

To quarantine the affected plants is the first step in getting rid of mealybugs.

Modify the way you feed plants

Changes in the food of your plants can be a passive way to get rid mealybugs. Reduced water intake can make mealybugs more reliant on your plant’s food, and may even lead to their starvation. The same thing can be done with fertilizers and feeds. These changes may not be enough to kill the bugs but they can tip the balance in your favor.


Plain water is one way to eliminate mealybugs. To get rid of any visible insects, you can hose down and wash your plant. You can also put mealybugs into a sink or another container if you have potted plants. For a more effective effect, add a little soap. After all visible insects have died, check the plant regularly. This should only take about ten minutes.


You can save your plants by catching mealybugs as soon as possible.

Alcohol rub

Isopropyl rub alcohol is a more effective way to get rid of mealybugs. It will kill both the mealybugs as well as their eggs. A pre-made 70{30865861d187b3c2e200beb8a3ec9b8456840e314f1db0709bac7c430cb25d05} rubbing alcohol mixture can be purchased to use with cotton balls, swabs and wipes to clean your plants. You also have the option to spray it with a mixture consisting of one cup alcohol per quart of water with a few drops dish soap. You should not put rubbing alcohol into the soil.


Soap suffocates mealybugs. Spraying plants with a watered down mixture of soap and water can kill them. One tablespoon per quart of water is a good ratio. Give infested plants a uniform coating to ensure the best results. Spray the soil with soap, but not as a drench.

Dish soap can cause stress for plants. Castile soap is a natural soap, but you should test it on a small area first before applying to the entire plant. To get rid of the bugs and any stragglers, wash your plants with water.


Vinegar can also be used to kill mealybugs. To get rid of them, spray your plants with a mixture consisting of one part vinegar and three parts water. Vinegar is beneficial for certain plants, however, it should be used with caution as it can harm many species. Before applying vinegar to your entire plant, research the effects on the species of vinegar and the limits.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide, unlike many other options is not harmful to plants if it is sufficiently dilute. To get rid of mealybug eggs, mix one part hydrogen peroxide with no additives to four to five parts water. Spraying adults will not work, so it should only be used to kill eggs. To get rid of adults, combine this method with other methods to achieve the best results.

Neem Oil

Neem oil, a natural insecticide, will kill mealybugs upon contact. One teaspoon of Neem oil per quart of water should be used. Add a few drops dish soap to the solution. You can use this as a spray or soil drench. To avoid poisoning pollinators, you should not apply this spray in the early morning, late night, or early morning.

Synthetic Pesticides

Organic methods of pest control are best for mealybugs. They’re resistant to many pesticides and can become resistant to any pesticide you apply to them. They can cause more damage to your plants than parasites. These synthetic pesticides and insecticides should not be used. However, there are other options available if that fails.

Pesticides for mealybugs

  • Dinotefuran
  • Imidacloprid
  • Pyrethroids

Signs of Mealybugs

Have a look at the plants. They are small and white so should be easy to spot. You’ll see them as fuzz-like growths on your plants. Look for evidence if they are not. Meatybugs may cause yellowing and wilting of the plants they eat.

Look out for their droppings. In advanced cases, sooty mold can develop from a sticky, waxy honeydew coating on affected plants.

What causes mealybugs

There are many ways mealybugs can be introduced to your houseplants or garden.

  • Most mealybugs infest plants by eating the leaves of plants that are already carrying them.
  • Mealybugs also love plants that have high levels of nitrogen, soft growth, and warm environments with lots of water. Mealybugs may be attracted to plants that are overfed or underwatered.
  • Mealybugs can also be introduced outside by the Argentine ant. This invasive insect will protect parasites and mealybugs from their honeydew. These parasites may be moved to better feeding areas, so keep an ear out.
  • Some fresh produce and flowers purchased at a farmer’s market or grocery store may contain mealybugs. However, this is very rare.
  • Potting dirt could be contaminated by mealybugs.
  • Mealybugs are more comfortable in warmer If you live in a colder climate, be sure to keep an eye on your houseplants and greenhouses. Indoor and outdoor plants should be monitored in warmer climates. However, they can infest any place.

How to Prevent Mealybugs

You can also prevent mealybugs getting to your plants by using these methods:

  • Make sure you are giving your plants the right amount of water and feed to prevent them becoming overwatered. This will keep them from becoming a mealybug breeding ground.
  • In order to prevent an infestation of a new plant, thoroughly inspect them and quarantine them for about a week before you introduce them to your other houseplants, greenhouses, or gardens.
  • In order to prevent insects from spreading, clean your gardening tools thoroughly between uses. To prevent insects from jumping between your plants, you can keep them apart. A distance of 10 to 15 feet is sufficient.

As a preventative, you can also make use of nature by adding some natural predators to your greenhouse or garden. There are many insect species that feed on mealybugs so there are many options for what kind of critters you can release upon them.

Remember that mealybugs can be found with Argentine ants. These ants are known to breed mealybugs and repel predators. You may have to first deal with the ants in this instance. The most effective way to get rid of this pest is with bait traps.

If indoor plants are infested, you can temporarily move them outside while they do their job.

Mealybug Predators

  • Ladybugs. Ladybugs will eat mealybugs as well as other garden pests like aphids. Live ladybugs can be purchased at many large retailers and from nurseries.
  • Mealybug destroyer beetles. The Cryptolaemus Montrouzieri (also known as the mealybug destroyer), is another major predator. It actively hunts mealybugs and eggs throughout their entire life cycle. These are also available at nurseries, and can be purchased as relatives of ladybugs.
  • Lacewings. Lacewings, as their name suggests, are delicate insects. Their larvae will eat mealybugs, although they mainly eat flower nectar and pollen in their adult stage. They are available commercially online and at many nurseries.
  • Hoverflies. Although they look very much like bees, these insects cannot bite you. They are difficult (but not impossible to find) commercially unlike other mealybug predators. To introduce them to your garden, you can attract them. They feed on mealybugs just like lacewings.

FAQ about Mealybugs

Can my plants be saved from a mealybug invasion?

It all depends on the length of time that the infestation has been present. The affected plants will usually recover quickly if you have caught the infestation early enough. If the infestation has been ongoing for a while, it may not be possible to save them or make them dead. After the infestation has subsided, wait a while and, if they don’t improve, get rid of them.

Why do mealybugs keep coming back?

It’s possible that you are only getting mature insects and not eggs or larvae from a regular mealybug infestation. You should inspect your plants carefully. Egg sacs are attached to plants by mealybugs in a variety of places, including twigs and fruit or the undersides. You may need to dig to ensure you have all the eggs.

If they feel threatened, mealybugs may hide. You might not be getting them by your treatment. If your plant has a potted plant, remove the top layer of soil and wash the entire rim. Finally, take the plant out of the area so that any mealybugs hiding in it don’t get back on it.

What is the average time it takes to eliminate mealybugs from your home?

It all depends on how fast you catch the infestation. Mealybugs can be a persistent pest that takes time to get rid of. Any visible bugs can be removed in a few hours, but if they have had time to lay eggs it could take weeks or months to eliminate the entire infestation. Depending on which methods you use, this may take several weeks or even months. If there are no results within a week, you may need to change tactics.

This post was written by a professional arborist at   Arbor Wise Professional Tree Care. Robert Miller is the owner of Arbor Wise Professional Tree Care, a locally owned and operated tree service company that offers superb lawn care by the most experienced arborist largo. Arborwise Tree Services is a tree removal company that offers stump removal, tree pruning, stump grinding, fertilization, and tree restoration. We have an extraordinary lawn care industry notoriety covering the Pinellas county area.