These plant sucking pest are well-known problem in greenhouses, gardens and house plants. Here's how to fight mealybugs using beneficial insecticides, insect repellants and other natural methods.

 Found in warm climates, mealybugs are soft, wingless insects that often appear as white cotton balls on leaves, stems and fruit. They feed by inserting a long drinking mouth part, called a stylet, into the plant and extracting the sap from the flesh. Damage is not necessary when the virus level is low. However, in high numbers, they can cause the leaves to turn yellow and curl as the plant weakens.

 Food is often combined with honey, which makes the plant stronger and promotes the growth of sooty mold. Mealybugs are greenhouse pests that affect ornamental plants, houseplants, avocados and fruits. 

How to identify mealybug

Adults (1/10 to 1/4 inch long) are soft, oval, segmented insects, often covered in white or gray wax. Small nymphs, called caterpillars, are yellow without wax. They are active from the start, but move less once a suitable feeding site is found.

Note: There are approximately 275 known species of mealybugs in the United States.

 Mealybug Control

1.  Remove the flame or wrap the insect with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol. 

2. Do not water or fertilize - mealybugs are attracted to plants with high nitrogen content and fast drying.

 3. Commercially beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, lacewings, and the destructive mealybug (Cryptolaemus montrouzieri), are important predators of this pest

 4. Use the Bug Blaster to spray plants with strong water and reduce the number of insects. Washing the leaves regularly with a paper towel - made from neem oil - will help discourage future infections.

5. Insect Repellent will act quickly on stubborn fleas. A long-lasting natural pesticide, it works by destroying the delicate layer of insects, causing dehydration and death within a few hours. Add 2.5 oz/gallon of water when insects are present, repeat every 7-10 days as needed.

6. Neem oil disrupts the growth and development of harmful insects and has repellent and anti-inflammatory properties. Best of all, it is not toxic to honey bees and many other beneficial insects. Mix 1 oz/gallon of water and spray every 7-14 days as needed.

7. BotaniGard ES is a highly effective insecticide containing Beauveria bassiana, an entomopathogenic fungus that attacks a long list of troublesome plant pests - even resistant species! Weekly applications can prevent insect population explosions and provide equal or greater protection than chemical pesticides.

8. Fast-acting botanical insecticides should be used as a last resort. Coming from plants that contain insecticides, these synthetic pesticides have fewer harmful effects than synthetic chemicals and break down quickly in the environment.

 9. Washing foliage regularly with bright paper will help discourage future discouragement.

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