How To Get Rid Of Mealybugs On Houseplants

get rid of little white bugs on plant

What are those little white bugs on your house plant? Are they small white fuzzy dots that seem to keep spreading? If so, you likely have a Mealybug infestation, and will continue to have an infestation until you take action. There are a few ways on how to get rid of Mealybugs on your plants. With different products and methods, you can kiss those pesky critters goodbye!

What are Mealybugs?

Mealybugs are fuzzy, small white bugs on that you suddenly notice on your plants. They live on the roots, soil, stems, and leaves of your plants. At first glace, or to the untrained eye, they can look like a powdery mildew or mold, rather than bugs.

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Mealybugs on Hibiscus plant.
Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

They often look to be stationary, however they do move. They don’t fly though.

If you think your plants are growing mold and look like patches of cotton all of a sudden, look closer! It could be mealybugs!

So, where did mealybugs come from anyway? The answer is hard to track down actually, as there are a variety of ways you could have adopted these tiny bugs. You could have brought them home with a new plant, they could have been in a bag of soil, or even from ants tracking them onto your plants.

How to Get Rid of Mealybugs on Plants

get rid of tiny white bugs on plants

Unfortunately, it will be a little labor intensive to get rid of these small white bugs on your houseplants. However, it’s not impossible. With a little patience and a little love, you can clear this insect infestation yourself.

To start, remove the infected plants and separate it from the rest of the plants. Be sure to wash your hands before touching any other plants. Remove any wilted, or discolored leaves.

Inspect the plant thoroughly and remove all soil completely from the roots. These little fuzzy bugs hide deep in the soil and in the roots.

You may want to either wash the plant in your bathtub, or in a large barrel outside. The ideal place is somewhere you can use a lot of water and wont mind getting a little mud splashed around!

Organic Mealybug Removal

Before dousing your plants in abrasive and harsh chemicals, try one of the organic insect control solutions below! They are all tried and true methods of organically eliminating insects and bugs from your plants.

Neem Oil

Neem Oil is a popular product in the gardening world. It is an effective miticide, insecticide, and fungicide to help battle your fight against infestation on your plants of any kind. It is an organic and non-toxic way to get rid of bugs in your garden and on your plants.

Neem Oil can be used on houseplants, vegetables, fruit plants, and flower plants.

You can use this product in a few ways. You can spray Neem Oil directly on your plant, which will manage some of the bugs, but won’t affect anything in the soil or roots.

It’s best to fully rinse your plant to remove all possible hiding places of the small bugs, disinfect the pot thoroughly, and then spray the Neem Oil directly onto the plant. This will kill off any eggs or remaining bugs and serve as a preventative for future infestation.

Follow the instruction on the product label for best usage. You can purchase a concentrate, a solution that needs to be diluted, or a spray. This is a rather inexpensive and quick way to start getting rid of mealybugs on your houseplants.

You may need to follow up with additional sprays over the course of several days to continue the treatment and ward off any sneaking infestation.

Ladybugs

This one may be a little more costly and trickier to come by, but Lady Bugs are a great solution to combat little bugs and other insects that invade your plants.

They eat all kinds of small, soft bodied insects that commonly infest greenery.

While this likely won’t be your go-to solution for your plants, you may want to consider ordering live lady bugs for your outdoor gardens.

Rubbing Alcohol & Dish Soap

If you’re not too squeamish and don’t mind getting a little close, you can try using rubbing alcohol to remove mealybugs from your plants.

You don’t want to just dump alcohol on your plants, you’ll burn and kill them! You will want to mix equal parts rubbing alcohol and water with a few small drops of mild dish soap to allow it to seep through the patches of fuzzy mess.

You will spray the mixture on until the plant is saturated and then leave it to dry. Be sure move your plant out of direct sun so they don’t get sunburned.

If you see a large patch of Mealybugs, you can use a cotton swab or Q-Tip and dab them individually with full strength rubbing alcohol.

Insecticide

When all else fails, it’s time for a full on assault. Because there are so many insecticides on the market, with varying degrees of strength, do your homework. If you decide to go this route, it is important to read the label for each one, understand it’s active ingredients and the intent.

Some plants are more sensitive than others. Some have different reactions to different agents. Do your due diligence before your buy. You don’t want to end up killing your plant while trying to save it!

There are three brands that I’ve heard positive feedback on, all with different products to tackle your specific needs:

Bonide: The Systemic House Plant Insect Control line is a popular product to use among house plants to kill off unwanted bugs. With this product, you sprinkle the granules onto the soil, water, and let it do it’s job. Then, in another 6-8 weeks, assess the efficacy and apply again if needed. This will work on a variety of pesky plant insects such as mealybugs and gnats.

GardenSafe: The Houseplant and Garden Insect Killer is another great option, especially if you’re looking for something to use on your edibles as well. It kills aphids, beetles, ants, mealybugs, mites, scale, thrips, fungus gnats, whitefly, and plant bugs, to name a few. While this isn’t organic, it is made with a botanical insecticide from the chrysanthemum flower.

TriFecta: Trifecta Crop Control can also be used on indoor and outdoor plants to control the presence of various types of mold and mildew, and as a contact kill pesticide, it will be effective against gnats, but you need to spray them directly for it to kill them. You can use this option to solve your mealy bug problem, as well as a preventative.

How To Get Rid of Mealy bugs forever

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