Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Houseplant Problems: Mealy Bugs

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If you are noticing small, white puff balls on your houseplants, you may have the dreaded Mealy bug. Mealy bugs are white, soft-bodied insects that suck plant juices, causing leaves to turn yellow and drop. You’ll normally find them along leaf veins, or where the leaf joins the stem.

Plants most commonly affected by mealy bugs include aglaonema, most ferns, some palms, ficus, some draceanas, pothos, philodendron, Norfolk Island pine, schefflera, dieffenbachia, jade plant, African violets, streptocarpus and yucca.

Planttalk Colorado provides the following steps to control Mealy bugs. Prune infested branches and remove and destroy heavily infested plants. These pests may also be controlled with insecticidal soap. For heavy infestations, spray a mixture of 10 percent rubbing alcohol and 90 percent water directly onto the insects. For smaller infestations, dab the insects with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. Repeat this procedure every week until the bugs are gone. Make sure to test the soap and alcohol mixtures on a small portion of the plant prior to full application because some plants may be sensitive to soap or alcohol.

For more information on insecticidal soaps, check out  the CSU Extension Fact Sheet Insect Control: Soaps and Detergents.