Mealybugs are a nightmare for any gardener, apart from being extremely unpleasant to look at, they are also very harmful for the health of plants.
Mealybugs or woolly aphids as they are called, are small white insects that are usually found in warm and moist areas. They attach themselves to areas of the plant that are hidden and feed off them causing them to wither. They secrete a cotton like layer of wax and look like they are covered with flour, hence the name. This layer of wax protects the bugs and makes it very difficult to kill them. If left untreated, mealybugs can kill a plant. Hence, it is extremely important to use effective methods and eliminate them at the earliest. They can be killed using pesticides available in the market, but if you are looking for some home remedies to kill mealybugs, scroll down.
Spray Water in Full Force
An easy way to get rid of mealybugs in the early stage is by simply spraying water at full force on the plants. If your house plants are infested, take them out and spray some water on them. Due to the force of water, the bugs will fall off the plant. Repeat this procedure two to three times a week, this way you will even get rid of small insect eggs and webs on any part of the plant.
Wipe with a Damp Cloth
This is another simple method to get rid of mealybugs, try it before you opt for any other fancy method. Take a clean cloth, make it wet and wring out excess water, we want it slightly damp and not dripping with water. Use this damp cloth gently to wipe all the leaves, the top and the bottom. This will help get rid of bugs and their eggs from plants. You can use this method if the issue is with just a couple of house plants.
Spray Soap Water
If the damp cloth is not enough to take care of the infestation, you can try using soapy water. Mix one tablespoon of dish washing soap with one pint of warm water and spray on the infested plants. The soap will penetrate through the wax layer and kill the bugs. Use a mild soap with no fragrance or additives, as they can be harmful to the plants. Soap may cause slight spotting in leaves, to take care of that, spray some water after the soap mixture dries.
Rub Isopropyl Alcohol
Isopropyl alcohol is very effective in getting rid of mealybugs. Take a few cotton swabs, dip it in alcohol and wipe the part of the plant that is infested. Bugs die immediately as soon as they come in contact with alcohol. This method is effective, but extremely time-consuming. If there is a large colony of bugs on the plant, pour the alcohol directly on the bugs to kill them. Do not use any other alcohol, as it can be harmful to the plant.
Spray a Mixture of Soap, Alcohol and Water
To make an even more effective mixture, mix alcohol, liquid soap and water. Combine equal quantities of water and alcohol to make about one and a half liter of the mixture. Mix approximately one tablespoon of liquid soap in the mixture and spray on the infested plants. The combination of alcohol and soap is highly effective and works well in eliminating the pest. Spray this mixture regularly on plants, to get rid of mealybugs completely.
Apply a Little Oil
Oil is also known to help get rid of mealybugs on plants. The thick oil causes insects to suffocate and die. To make an effective oil solution, combine 1 gallon of water with about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Apply this mixture on the infested plants, once a week, till the pests are under control. Be careful to apply the mixture thoroughly on the plant, as the bugs tend to hide below the leaves and the undersides of the plant.
Use Natural Predators
You can also control mealybugs by using predators of mealybugs such as lady bugs, spiders, lace wing, etc. These insects can be easily purchased online and will be delivered to your house. They work well for plants that are kept outside, release a few insects at a time. Also be careful to control ants, as they feed on the honeydew that the bugs produce and protect them to get regular food supply.
Other Home Remedies
Apart from the above mentioned remedies, you can also use a mixture of garlic, vinegar and hot sauce. Similarly, you can also use jalapeno juice or a mixture of cayenne pepper, hot water and Tabasco sauce and spray it on the plant. All these combinations act as natural insecticides. Instead of using dish washing soap in the soapy water mixture, you can opt for peppermint soap, as bugs do not like the strong smell of peppermint. You can also use Murphy’s oil soap with water.
Use these above mentioned home remedies to protect your plants from mealybugs. Always make sure to test the solution on a small part of the plant before generously spraying it, to avoid destroying the plant.