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Mealybugs—What Causes Them & How to Get Rid of Them

Mealybugs are common throughout Florida, and while they may be small, they can do some serious damage to your lawn and garden if left unchecked. These insects are actually a collection of hundreds of species, and they thrive in Florida’s warm, humid weather. Read on to learn all about mealybugs and what causes them, as well as tips for preventing a mealybug infestation.

What Are Mealybugs?

Mealybugs can be quite a nuisance, particularly when it comes to citrus and other commercial crops. Unfortunately for home gardeners, mealybugs are attracted to and infest tropical species of indoor houseplants as well. To avoid a potential mealybug invasion in your own home, make sure not to over-fertilize or overwater your plants –nitrogen levels that are too high attract these troublesome pests. 

These small, oval, sap-sucking insects are closely related to scale insects. They’re common in warmer climates, and a heavy infestation in your lawn and garden often requires repeated treatments. Over time, mealybugs can cause the leaves of plants to yellow and die. In severe infestations, the waxy excretions (or honeydew) these insects leave behind encourage the development of sooty mold fungus. 

Mealybugs also live indoors on house plants. They often have a white, cottony appearance, so they’re easy to identify indoors or outdoors. Treating the problem is often a different story, and it can be difficult to rid your home or yard from these damaging pests.

How to Get Rid of Mealybugs

It’s often only possible to get rid of a very light mealybug infestation on your own. Some simple remedies include:

  • Washing the Bugs Away. A steady stream of water can often dislodge mealybugs from plants. Keep in mind that some plants can’t tolerate this type of treatment, and it only works for very light infestations.
  • Using Isopropyl Alcohol. Alcohol kills mealybugs instantly, but this technique is best for only small infestations on indoor houseplants. Soak a cotton ball in a solution of no more than 70% isopropyl alcohol and wipe it directly on mealybugs. It’s best to test on one leaf only to ensure the alcohol won’t burn the plant.
  • Using neem oil. Neem oil is a great way to get rid of mealybugs naturally. When used as directed, neem oil not only hinders insect growth and development, but it also acts as a natural repellant. It’s safe to use on both ornamentals and edible plants.

Deal With Mealybugs and Other Nuisance Pests With the Help of Service Choice of West Palm Beach

Mealybugs can present a nuisance to those with houseplants and gardens; however, they don’t have to be an ongoing problem. Service Choice of West Palm Beach is standing by to help. After a free initial pest control inspection, we’ll provide a targeted treatment plan that eliminates mealybugs and any other nuisance pests that may be living in your home or garden. Call us today at (561) 734-9269 to schedule your free inspection!