Best Pest Control Methods For Mealybugs
Mealybugs can be found on both indoor and outdoor plants. These tiny wax-covered insects use their mouth parts to pierce through the plant's outer layer and suck the sap from the plant tissue. This leaves the plant in poor health and can even cause parts of the plant to turn black and die off. If you spot mealybugs on your plants, you'll want to take immediate action by following the best pest control methods outlined below.
Since mealybugs are commonly confused with woolly aphids and whiteflies, it is important to properly identify them before beginning treatment. The University of California's Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program reports that mealybugs are oval in shape, have a soft body, and are covered in cotton-like scales. The body's are also segmented and adorned with filaments. The females are wingless, however, the males do have two tiny wings.
Remove by Hand
Should you only have a small mealybug infestation, you can easily control it by removing the bugs and dispose of them. There are effective ways you can do this. Colorado State University Extension suggests either spraying the mealybugs with alcohol, or wiping them off with an alcohol soaked cotton ball. Because alcohol can harm some plants, there is also the option of picking the mealybugs off one at a time and placing them in a bowl filled with insecticidal soap.
Small to medium mealybug problems can be dealt with using biological control methods. The University of Connecticut Pest Management lists several mealybug predators that you can introduce to the environment. Parasitic wasps lay eggs inside the mealybugs and when those eggs hatch, the larvae consume the mealybugs from the inside out. Another option is to use ladybird beetles (also called ladybugs). These handy bugs enjoy feasting on mealybugs no matter what stage of the life cycle they are in. Finally, lacewigs can be used to control mealybugs that are currently in the larvae stage.
Larger mealybug infestations are best dealt with using approved insecticides. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach lists insecticides with the following active ingredients as effective against mealybugs: permethrin, rotenone, azadirachtin, and resmethrin. When going the insecticide route, it is a good idea to contact your local pest control expert, like Alta Sierra Pest Control, and have him or her administer it. A professional will know best how to use the harsh chemicals in a way that is safe for families and pets. The experts are also more aware of where the mealybugs like to hide, so they will better be able to target the infestation for complete eradication.