What are Mealybug? How to spot and treat this destructive plant pest

What are Mealybug?

Mealybugs are little white-grey creatures which look a bit like tiny elongated woodlice.  They have a white waxy coating making it difficult to kill them with chemical pesticides.  They thrive in warm, light indoor conditions and are therefore active all year round on indoor plants and crops.

Mealybugs are normally found on indoor plants such as cacti, succulents, citrus, orchids and tomatoes. 

What does Mealybug damage look like?  The symptoms

Mealybug infestation

Mealybug secrete Honeydew, sooty moulds may then grow on these secretions.  The wooley masses are also unsightly.  In large numbers they can cause the death of branches or even whole plants.

 How do you stop Mealybug?

In the early summer /in warm light conditions it is a good idea to inspect vulnerable plants every week and deal with the first signs of pest infestation immediately. Where possible, remove infested leaves, buds and stems because this will initially reduce numbers.  Unmated females can live away from the plant so it is equally important to keep growing areas, pots, etc clean
It's a good idea to clean Mealybug off as soon as you see it, ideally cleaning with SB Plant Invigorator to properly remove the bugs and strengthen the plant.  It's really important that you take care not to move the pest from plant to plant or around bigger plants in your attempts to clean it off, think of it as a very contagious disease!
In warm sunny months, when the temperature remains above 20°C, mealybugs can be treated with Brown Australian Ladybirds, Cryptolaemus Montrouzieri which will crawl around the plant eating the mealybugs.


Mealybug Treatments

Cryptolaemus was one of the first discoveries in the science of biological control. This little beetle known as "the Australian Ladybird" was first exported from Australia to California in 1891 to control citrus mealybug.

The larvae hatch out as voracious predators of mealybugs. Young larvae and adults prefer the smaller stages of mealybug, whereas the large larvae will eat mealybugs of any size. If mealybug is in short supply, Crytpolaemus may also eat young scale insects.

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Mealybug control