In this post, let’s look into top 10 treatment options to get rid of mealybugs and aphids from your garden. Let’s see what happens to mealy bugs when you spray various solutions especially the cocktail mix for extensive mealy bug infestation.
Mealybugs are like a coronavirus. They spread quickly from plant to plant and sometimes it can be difficult to get rid of them.
Mealybugs are infact insects and considered sap sucking pests in gardening. They are soft-bodied insects covered with a white, waxy, cottony material. Dissolving this protective waxy layer will kill these mealy bugs. There are different entomological types of mealy bugs but in home gardening we are mainly concerned with root mealy bugs or ground mealybugs and the sap sucking leaf mealybugs. This is a complete step by step guide.
If you see mealybugs and ants together, then this is a serious issue and difficult to eradicate them. Because they have a mutual symbiotic relationship and these ants protect the bugs from predators and parasites. This also applies to aphids. The ants, especially the fire ants help mealybugs by carrying them to the tips of growing plants and in return they get to eat the honeydew excreted out of their anus.
Having said that, let’s look into the treatments: Please follow the same order for treatment and resort to the last option only if you fail.
10. MOVE YOUR INFECTED PLANT AWAY from the other plants because it can spread quickly from one plant to another.
9. PRUNING: This is the simplest treatment especially if a group of mealy bugs are concentrated at the tips of the branches. Remove those branches and dispose them carefully or burn those branches if possible.
8. BUG BLASTER METHOD: This means spraying water, preferably warm water with high pressure to dislodge the mealy bugs from the plants. This can be used to treat if the infestation is not so high and if there are no ants seen around them, else they tend to return back to the plant in no time.
7. SOAP WATER: This is another simple method if the mealybug load is not so high. Add 1 teaspoon of dish wash liquid soap or even some shampoo to 1 litre of water and mix well before spraying on the plant. This again works by dislodging the mealybugs from the plant. But do not use it when they exist together with ants.
6. NEEM OIL: This is a universal most commonly used broad spectrum pesticide in organic gardening. 1 teaspoon of Neem oil per litre of water + some 10 drops of liquid dish wash soap actually works for mealybugs. But remember to completely drench the plant with this spray and also spray on the top soil surrounding the plant. This solution may take time to completely eradicate the bugs and you may have to repeat this every week until eradication. Please perform a patch test on a leaf before spraying on the entire plant. Patch test means spraying on a single leaf or branch to see the potency of your pesticide. If its wilts or damaged in 1 to 2 hours, then you need to dilute it further, so that your plant is not harmed.
5. ALCOHOL: Do not use any alcohol specially ethanol and methanol because they can damage your plant. Safest is the rubbing alcohol which is 70% Isopropyl Alcohol. This works 100% on mealybugs. Do not worry if you do not have this rubbing alcohol. I will show you some easy alternatives shortly. So, How to use this on mealy bugs. If infestation is very little, just take a cotton swab and soak it with rubbing alcohol and wipe the mealy bugs. If infestation is high, then some recommend spraying directly on the plant using a sprayer. But it can damage some plants. To be safe, its better to dilute this with water in 1:1 ratio and spray on the plants. Alcohol dissolves the waxy coating of mealybugs almost instantly and they die in no time. Repeat this if required after one week. But remember to perform a patch test before spraying.
4. THE COCKTAIL METHOD: In this method, we mix up many ingredients to make a cocktail solution. Take 500 ml water in a spray can. Add half to 1 teaspoon of Neem Oil. Then You add one cup or 250 ml of rubbing alcohol. If you do not have this, you can use a hand sanitizer or even after shave lotion. Then add about 10 drops of liquid soap to this. This is the most powerful mixture to destroy all the mealy bugs in one shot. But please perform the patch test on a leaf before spraying on the entire plant.
3. Diatomaceous Earth or DE powder: Reserve this as the next organic option, because if it’s a flowering or fruiting plant, pollinators may be harmed specially if you sprinkle this powder on flowers. This powder is particularly useful if you also have ants in symbiosis with the mealybugs. Sprinkling or dusting this powder will take care of both these insects.
2. INSECTICIDES like Malathion, carbaryl and other organo-phosphorous compounds kill these bugs. But the use of chemicals is not recommended. If only one or few plants are infested, destroying your plant is another option recommended by some gardeners so that it doesn’t spread to the other healthy plants.
1. HYDROGEN PEROXIDE: This is great especially for root or ground mealy bugs. Use 2 cups of 3% hydrogen peroxide or 1 cup of 6% peroxide per litre of water and water your plant with this solution and repeat after a week if necessary.