All You Need to Know About Mealybugs
Mealybugs are basically very tiny insects that feed off plant fluids, especially leaves and steam fluids. They are cotton-like in nature due to their bright white color. These bugs are of the Pseudococcidae insect family, under the super family Coccoidea, and are mostly found in warm, moist conditions. Consequently, indoor plants are more prone to mealybug attacks since the inside of a house is more often than not warm. There are however those that specifically feed on subtropical trees while some survive best in greenhouses. Unarmored in nature, this scale insect also serves as a vector for quite a number of plant diseases. In very severe cases, heavy infestation of Mealybugs can lead to plant death or other causative factors such as discoloration.
Identifying mealybug infested plants
If at all one is to minimize the damage caused by mealybugs, it is of utmost importance that the infestation is pointed out early enough so as to come up with adequate counter measures. Identifying a mealybug infested plant is rather simple. One of the key traits exhibited by such plants is discoloration. This is mainly visible on the leaves since this is the part mealybugs often raid first. In such a case, the leaves with gradually turn from green to yellow. In addition to this, sap-like substance will appear on the stems as well as the leaves. This is a sign that the mealybugs have already moved to another part, or maybe another plant.
Just like with most pests, one needs to exercise caution when handling themso as not to damage the plant. Taking back full control of the plant does not necessarily mean using chemical toxins that will end up killing off the plant. There are more natural ways of going about it. Among them is using diluted vinegar. All you need to do is create a mixture of water and vinegar. Make sure the concoction is not too dilute or else it will have little to no impact on the mealybugs. Make sure to spray the infected plants with the mixture every evening. Afterwards, cover the sprayed plant with an air-tight plastic bag all night long. By morning, most of the mealybugs will have disappeared.
Alternatively, one can expose the plant to cold conditions for a night or two. Given the fact that mealybugs do not thrive in cold conditions, placing the plant in a cold region such as a windowsill will force the mealybugs to hide on the leaf standing furthest from the sill. In the morning, all you will have to do is wipe them off and return the plant to its optimal environment. Ladybird larvae can also be used for this purpose. They are notorious for feeding on mealybugs. Therefore, in case of an infestation, simply expose the plant to these larvae. Other possible remedies for a mealybug infestation include insecticidal soap, diatomaceous earth, a sodium dodecyl sulfate/isopropyl alcohol solution or diazinon. Multiple applications of any of these solutions can go a long way i