Mealybugs (lat.Pseudococcidae), or false pillows, or felt-mongers represent a family of hemiptera insects, which includes more than 2,200 species. Only 330 of them are found in Europe.
The mealybug is a widespread insect that damages forage, greenhouse and indoor plants, including cacti and succulents. The people call these pests "hairy lice".
The mealybug has a characteristic appearance and is large in comparison with other insects in size, however, an inexperienced florist may not immediately detect the beginning of the occupation, which greatly complicates the fight against the pest.
In length, mealybugs can reach from 3 to 10 mm. Females and males differ significantly in appearance. The female pest has an oval body, covered with white powder wax, she has many short legs and long threadlike antennae. The larva of the worm is similar to the female, but smaller in size. And males are winged insects that resemble flies or mosquitoes. They do not have a mouth apparatus, do not feed on plants and do not harm them.
What is the harm of mealybugs? These are sucking pests feeding on cell sap, which leads first to a slowdown, and then to a complete cessation of plant growth and development. In the process of life, mealybugs secrete honeydew, or honeydew, a sweet and sticky liquid, which is a favorable environment for the development of various fungal diseases, in particular, soot fungus. The mealybug pest damages all organs - both ground and roots, and easily moves to neighboring plants.
Of the many species, the most famous are greenhouse lamellar, bamboo, citrus, seaside, grape, Australian grooved, root, bristly and Comstock.
In order to prevent damage to plants by a pest, it is necessary to carry out the following preventive measures:
Mealybugs thrive at temperatures above 25 ºC and high humidity, therefore, in such conditions, preventive inspection of plants should become frequent and mandatory.
How to treat plants from a mealybug? Almost all insecticides cope with this pest, but the following are considered the best of them:
In addition to those described, there are other effective drugs. against mealybugeg Dantop (Ponche, Apache), Vertimec, Spark Double Effect and Calypso.
The mealybug settles on ficus, dracaena and even cacti, but most often mealybugs appear on flowers - on orchids and violets, for example. When examining your indoor plants, to determine that this particular pest has settled on them, the following symptoms will help you:
If you find at least one of the listed signs, immediately start saving the flower. How to deal with mealybugs on an orchid? First of all, it must be isolated so that the pests do not spread to other flowers. Dissolve 2 g of green soap in 100 ml of water and very thoroughly wipe the ground organs of the orchid with this solution using a sponge or cotton pad. In the cracks between the trunk and leaves, you need to penetrate with a brush dipped in a solution, since pests like to settle in hard-to-reach places. Remember to wash the underside of the leaves. After that, you need to spray the flower three times with an interval of 7-10 days with some folk remedy (infusions of tobacco or garlic, a decoction of cyclamen). Only three times treatment of the orchid will give the desired result, although it will seem to you that the pests have disappeared after the first spraying.
Of the chemicals against mealybugs on the orchid, Fitoverm, Inta-vir and Bitoxibacillin are the most effective.
For violets, mealybug is the most complex and insidious pest. It is difficult to trace the moment of the appearance of the worm on violets, since almost its entire cycle takes place underground. But even when the enemy is discovered, it turns out that it is not so easy to fight him: he is ideally protected by the structural features of his body.
In the fight against mealybugs on violets, do not waste time trying to cope with the pest with folk remedies, but immediately apply systemic insecticides. It is best to treat violets with Aktellik: 2-3 sprays at intervals of a week with a solution of 2 ml of the drug in 1 liter of water will destroy insects of all stages of development, except for eggs. However, plant processing should be done outdoors. If, after that, worms appear on the violets, you will have to remove each plant from the pot, clean the roots from the soil, carefully treat the stem, sinuses of the lower leaves and the roots of the violet with a systemic insecticide, and then plant the plant in a fresh substrate.
If your cactus suddenly began to grow slowly, but you did not find any pests on it, this does not mean that they do not exist: you should definitely examine the root system of the plant. Usually, bugs suck the juice from the fresh growth of the tops of cacti and other succulents, but at the same time they can be found on the roots at the base of the stem and in an earthen coma. Signs of the harmful activity of mealybugs on a cactus can be deformation of young leaves and growth points, as well as brown or reddened marks - bite sites.
To destroy mealybugs on cacti, you will need 3 treatments of the ground part of the plants with a systemic insecticide with an interval of 10-15 days. During each spraying, it is necessary to shed an insecticide solution and the soil in which the cacti grow.
Hot water has a very effective effect on the pest: the plants are removed from the pots and washed under running water at a temperature of 45-50 ºC, mechanically removing the pests from them and washing the roots from the ground. After washing, the cacti are completely immersed in a systemic insecticide solution for several hours, then dried and planted in a fresh disinfected substrate. Of the chemical preparations for the fight against worms on cacti, Decis, Apollo, Karbofos, Fufanon, Actellik, Sherpa and preparations based on imidacloprid have proven themselves well.
If there are few pests, it may be enough to treat the plant with garlic tincture. It is more convenient to do this with a cotton swab.
A sign of damage to dracaena mealybugs are white bloom and spots of honeydew on the stems and leaves of the plant, the loss of turgor by the leaves, the formation of brown spots on them and the curvature of the stem. Mealybugs appear on the plant in conditions of too high humidity at temperatures above 25 ºC.
It is necessary to deal with the mealybug on the dracaena in a complex manner, that is, in addition to processing the plant on the leaves, it is necessary to disinfect the soil in which the dracaena grows. Of the chemicals in the fight against the worm, Fitoverm has proven itself well, which should treat the plant 4 times with an interval of 1 week. Confidor copes well with the pest, but Aktara is still the most effective remedy: to spray dracaena on the leaves, use a solution of 4 g of the drug in 5 liters of water, and for soil cultivation in a pot, you need to dilute 0.7 g of Actara in 1 liter of water. Whichever preparation you prefer, however, first try to rinse the insects off the plant or remove them with a cotton swab dipped in soapy water.
If the clusters on your grapes look pale and droopy, and in some places you notice scraps of plaque that look like pieces of cotton wool, take a closer look at the bush: it may be affected by mealybugs. The fight against them must be started immediately. And keep in mind: there are no grape varieties resistant to this pest, no matter what the sellers tell you.
Prophylactic treatment of grapes from worms is carried out in early May, when the females lay eggs. For spraying on the leaves, the systemic preparations Aktar, Aktellik, Iskra gold, Mospilan or Confidor are used. If the mealybug has already settled on your grapes, then one treatment will not solve the problem, but if you regularly use systemic insecticides for preventive purposes, then one spraying may be enough.
If you have ants on your property, you need to get rid of them, as they spread the bugs around the garden just like aphids.
In the fall, before preparing for winter, remove the old bark from the grape bush affected by the worms and burn it along with the pests.
Mealybug control on other garden plants is carried out in the same way, including preventive measures.
With a slight lesion of berry plants with mealybugs, it is better to use folk remedies that are less toxic than chemical insecticides:
However, we do not recommend relying especially on folk remedies, since they are effective only with a small number of pests, at the initial stage of damage and for prevention purposes. If there are a lot of mealybugs, do not waste time and immediately start treating the plant with a systemic insecticide.
Sections: Pests Houseplant pests
Most flower growers are faced with the problem of the appearance of pests in garden plantings, in indoor pots. They harm green spaces and require immediate elimination. In this article, we will talk about how to deal with mealybugs on indoor plants, we will review the most popular methods of fighting parasites.
It is not too difficult to find out that plants are affected by this parasite. Most often, a light bloom appears on the plants, reminiscent of cotton wool in consistency. This plaque is found both on the buds of the plant and in the axils of the foliage. Mealybug sometimes leaves small sticky discharge on plants and the so-called sooty mushroom.
What can cause a sooty worm to appear on indoor plants? There are several reasons:
The mealybug is capable of incredibly fast reproduction, which is why you need to fight it immediately after it is discovered. Otherwise, you can miss the right moment and destroy the plant. At this time, the plant turns yellow, loses its vitality and dies.
A plant affected by a mealybug can be identified by the following:
After the mealybug is found on the plant, you need to immediately begin an active campaign to eradicate it, so as not only to prevent the death of the plant, but also its spread to other indoor plantings.
Getting rid of mealybugs on orchids is difficult, but at the same time simple. Many chemical preparations are offered by specialized stores in order to fight this pest, there are folk remedies and methods, the main thing is to put your work and care, you cannot do without labor costs.We must also not forget about the prevention and constant hygienic treatment of orchids, which love cleanliness and will help you fight mealybugs with all their might.
By following the basic rules for caring for orchids, and taking preventive measures, you will already protect your plant from mealybugs by 90 percent. If the plant is healthy, then caring for it will not be difficult, the main thing is the correct regime for keeping the orchid, normal watering and prevention from diseases and pests. The whole range of these works can be divided into the following points:
To summarize, the main thing in prevention is: plant hygiene, preventive treatment, correct watering regime, temperature and humidity.
You bought a new orchid for your collection, placed it in a "quarantine zone" and, as luck would have it, just now noticed the presence of this noxious mealybug on the leaves of the plant. We need to get rid of it immediately, we start treatment.
With any method of cure, you need to start with complete hygiene of the orchid: thoroughly bathe it in the shower, let the water drain, remove drops of moisture on the leaves and in the sinuses with a cotton swab, and at the same time remove visible parasites.
The first way of processing: spraying orchid leaves and soil with chemicals (Aktara, Fitoverm, Aktellik). Process until the insect disappears completely. Carefully remove visible insects between treatments (7-10 days).
Second processing method: the use of folk remedies to wipe or spray orchids: infusions of garlic, onions, hot pepper decoction. Such treatment will take more time and does not guarantee complete disposal of the worm, but it can be used in combination with chemical treatments.
Third method of treatment: it will become the most expensive if you have more than one pot of orchids. It consists in a complete replacement of the substrate and plant transplantation with the treatment of the root system. This method is effective, but substrates for orchids are expensive, and replanting 10-15 copies will cost you a pretty penny. It is used in the presence of 1-2 plants, if they are very valuable varieties.
An amateur florist found her own way of getting rid of mealybugs on orchids, she talks about him in a short video at the end of this paragraph. We put a more detailed story of another flower lover at the end of the article.
Main risk factors:
Although this insect is called "worm", it does not look like a worm at all, as it belongs to the order of hemiptera. These are insects, in which one of the main distinguishing features is a piercing-sucking mouth apparatus. The well-known aphid belongs to the same order.
In the order of hemiptera, which are innumerable, entomologists distinguish the superfamily Coccidaceae. It, in turn, includes scale insects and scale insects. They differ from each other in the way they protect themselves from external influences - the female scale insects, like knights, use shields that cover the insect's body and eggs, and the female scale insects (including mealy) wear "fur coats" made of waxy secretions. All representatives of the Coccidaceae family feed on plant juices, therefore they are considered pests.
Mexican cochineal on prickly pear
Although there are several types of worms that are specially bred - these are cochineal or cochineal worms. The body of cochineal females contains a large amount of carminic acid, from which carmine is obtained - a dye of bright red color. The most famous are Mexican and Ararat cochineal: the amount of carminic acid in them is the largest. Carmine has been used for dyeing fabrics and wool for carpets since the 7th century. BC. Carmine is also an E120 additive, a food coloring that, for example, gives sausages such an appetizing pink color.
You can find the worm by the characteristic pieces of "cotton wool"
Mealybugs are also called felt bugs, because they lay their eggs in bags of fibers and waxy secretions that resemble pieces of cotton wool or felt. The lifestyle of these insects is quite entertaining - and not just for insect specialists. Like all representatives of hemiptera, mealybugs are insects with incomplete transformation. That is, in the process of its development, the worm passes several ages of the larva from the egg (a nymph that does not differ too much in appearance from an adult), and then turns into an adult sexually mature insect, bypassing the pupa stage.
Having been born, the larvae of the first instar lead an active life, moving in search of food plants. For this passion for movement, they are called vagabonds. The nymphs of the worms outwardly resemble an adult female, but of a smaller size and have not yet had time to acquire a "fur coat" - a cover of wax.
Female mealybug, bottom view
By the third age (molting) of the nymphs, the paths of males and females diverge radically. Males undergo two more stages of metamorphosis (larval ages), accompanied by molting, and turn into small winged flies. Their lifespan is short - only 1 day, so they do not eat, their mouth apparatus is even atrophied.
The female mealybug gets stuck in its development at the stage of the third instar of the larvae, it becomes inactive and becomes overgrown with waxy "fur" (therefore, the worms are also called hairy lice). In company with their companions, they form colonies, spending time sucking plant juices and laying eggs.
Colony of female mealybugs
Mealybugs prefer secluded places - the back side of leaf plates, leaf axils. However, they can also be located in plain sight, creating extensive clusters on leaves or young shoots.
The female lays hundreds of eggs, and after about 2-3 weeks, offspring appear from them. Some types of worms are viviparous. Further, during the period of vagrancy, nymphs can colonize other plants, moving with the help of the wind or traveling on a person or animal.
Scientists know more than 2000 species of worms. Most of them live in tropical countries, so these insects have become a significant problem not for gardeners, but for lovers of indoor plants, because the bulk of the green beauties on our windowsills come from the tropics. There are about 300 species in the European climate. On the territory of our country and the CIS countries, we can talk about only 5 pests living in the open air - about grape, citrus, seaside, bristly and Comstock worm.
Mealybugs and their larvae on a leaf
These representatives of the tribe of worms harm agriculture. The other numerous varieties come to us simultaneously with their food supply: they are sold with it in a flower shop - and can turn the life of lovers of orchids, uzambara violets, cacti and other dracaena with monsters into hell.
In our market that brings together major online stores, you can choose a new green pet. Take a look at the Houseplants section.
As mentioned above, worms are sucking pests. They do not gnaw holes in the leaves, but make a small puncture and suck out the juices. In some species, the females, after moving to a sedentary lifestyle after wandering, lose their limbs in the process of metamorphosis and spend their rest of their lives in one place, feeding on the sap of the plant and producing offspring. Relatives of scale insects are especially distinguished by such habits, acting under a carapace-shield from the skin and wax secretions discarded during molting.
From the activity of worms, the plant slows down in growth, shoots and buds are deformed. Some varieties (for example, citrus bug) can also damage the roots by settling in the surface layer of the soil.
Sooty mushroom on the leaves
There are a lot of sugars in the sucked sap of plants, but the insect mainly needs protein. Therefore, they are forced to consume a lot of food - and excrete excess sugar in the form of honeydew. This attracts ants, which can take care of the insect colonies, protecting them from predatory insects (as with aphids). The sticky, sweet liquid on the surface of the leaves becomes a breeding ground for a sooty fungus, a mold from the genus Aspergill. A film of black (sooty fungus) clogs the pores of the leaf and slows down, if not completely stops photosynthesis. As a result, the leaf gradually dies off and the plant weakens.
Mealybugs are usually very easy to see, most of them can be from below and in the axils of foliage, on petioles and stems. In these places, discharge resembling cotton wool is visible, eggs are in them. Therefore, the plants attacked by the mealybug seem to be covered with cotton wool or down. Further, larvae hatch from the eggs, they crawl over the culture and suck the juice.
Anyone who is faced with the problem of the appearance of a mealybug on plants is interested in how to deal with a pest. If there are still not too many individuals, you can try to wash the leaves from them with a soft sponge dipped in soapy water. After that, it is imperative to treat the foliage with a solution of green soap (12-15 g of soap per 1 liter of water).
Time-tested folk remedies will also help in the fight:
Such treatments are recommended to be carried out at least once every 4 days, while alternating preparations, since the mealybug can quickly get used to new compositions.
Worms also have natural enemies - riders, the common lacewing and the cryptolemus beetle - by attracting them to your site, you can naturally reduce the parasite population.
If there are too many pests, you will have to resort to chemicals - Novaktion, Fufanon, Aktar and other insecticides of a similar effect. Processing must be carried out at least 3 times in order to kill all generations of larvae.