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Shop > > Mealybug Controls

Mealy bugs are common pests that infest a wide range of houseplants and greenhouse plants. Mealy bugs weaken plants and excrete a sticky substance (honeydew) on foliage, which allows the growth of sooty moulds.

Pest Description Mealy bugs are small insects approximately 1-4 millimeters long and oval in shape. The females are covered with a white, cottony or mealy wax secretion and look like tiny cotton balls on plants. This reduces the plant’s aesthetic value. Some mealy bug species have filaments or “tails” around the edge of the body. Immature males and females look similar, but they’re very different as adults: The adult male looks like a gnat with one pair of wings. (Only the adult males fly.) Female crawlers (mobile stage) go though four developmental stages until they reach maturity.

Mealy bug Damage: Once the crawler selects a feeding site, it inserts its mouthpart (called a stylet) and begins feeding on plant sap. Plants are damaged by:

  • A sticky waste substance which is excreted by the mealybug. This waste substance is called honeydew. This liquid adheres to leaves and provides a medium for sooty mold to colonize and grow. Sooty mold is black and eventually covers leaves and stems. This mold stops infected portions of the plant from photosynthesizing and causes aesthetic damage.
  • In addition to the sooty mold, plant damage is caused by the mealy bugs sucking plant sap and the pests’ toxic saliva, both resulting in distorted plant growth and premature leaf drop. Plant leaves also develop yellow spots.

Beneficial Insects:

  • Chrysoperla spp., Green lacewing larvae feed on the crawler stage of almost any mealy bug.
  • Micromus variegatus, Brown lacewing aggressively consuming any of the sucking insects such as mealy bug They appear to find prey by smell.
  • Cryptolaemus montrouzieri Mealy bug destroyer, is a ladybug that feed on most mealy bug species (although it doesn’t do well on the longtail mealy bug).


  • Horticultural Soaps work well in controlling this pest. The tricky part is mealybugs tend to hide very well where leaves attach to the stem, so make sure you get coverage there. Horticultural soaps don’t have systemic properties, which means when spraying, the product must come in contact with the pest.
A word of warning: You can burn leaves with horticultural soaps. These products need to be applied when the air temperature is cool. Make sure your plants were watered well the day before you apply your control – never spray wilted plants. Following labeled rates also reduces the risk of leaf damage. Also, make sure beneficial insects are not present when you spray


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