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Indoor plants without mealybugs

The best way to get rid of Mealybugs

Indoor plants can bring so much joy to your indoor environment.  But if you notice that your plant looks like it is covered in small white creatures, often resembling snow the plant may be under attack from mealybugs. 

Catch your Mealybugs before its too late

The best way to get rid of Mealybugs

Getting rid of mealybugs is tough but not impossible. Overnight these tiny little white bugs can appear on your plants and take over.  Mealybugs are clever little animals, they like to hide and then come back for a second attack.  

What are Mealybugs?

Mealybugs are small-scale bugs that suck the sap from the leave of your plants. This causes the plant to have stunted or deformed leaf growth, and yellowing of the leaves and eventually if you do not get rid of mealybugs the plant will die. 

At first glance, these little white bugs can often be mistaken as fungus or mildew rather than bugs. Inspect your plant regularly to ensure early detection. It is far easier to get rid of the small mealybug infestation than to eradicate a full-blown attack.   These little white bugs are mostly found on new leaves, along the veins of the leaves and at the leaf joint.  Mealybugs spread fast, if the plant is left untreated then it will eventually die. 

The mealybug life. cycle is approximately 7-10 weeks. It takes a week for the eggs to hatch into little nymphs and then a further 6-9 weeks for the bugs to become fully-fledged adults. Since these little bugs are so small, it takes a while for them to become noticeable to you when you walk past them. This means most people do not notice that their plant is under a mealybug attack until there are hundreds of bugs. 

Where do mealybugs come from?

As we have already mentioned, mealybugs are sneaky animals that just sneak up on your plant.  But where do they actually come from?

As with many animals, mealybugs can come from almost anywhere. But the most causes are;

  • Bringing home a new plant
  • Using contaminated potting soil
  • Putting houseplants outside during the summer
  • Ants sometimes bring mealybugs to a plant so they can feed off the sweet residue that the bugs can produce on the plant
mealybugs on leaves

How to get rid of mealybugs

As with any houseplant infestation, it is important to start the process of cleaning the mealybugs from your plants quickly. 

The first thing to do is to isolate the plant or plants that have been affected. 

Next, wash your plant thoroughly with a powerful shower head. This will remove any loose mealybugs but will not be sufficient to get rid of them. 

The next step would be to begin the process of removing the mealybugs from your plants. Mealybugs are resistant to most chemical pesticides. So the best thing to use is an alcohol rub to remove the bugs.  The rubbing alcohol will kill the bugs on contact. 

As you start to treat the plants make sure to check all areas.  The leaves, nodules, under the leaves and at the base of the plant, because these bugs like to hide everywhere. 

If you touch the infected plants make sure you wash your hands afterwards.

What do you need to treat the mealybugs

To treat your mealybugs you will need;

  • Gloves
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Washing Up Liquid
  • Cotton pads
  • Spray bottle
  • Watering can
  • Water

Mealybug treatment

Once you notice the mealybugs and begin the treatment it will take several treatments to fully remove the bugs. 

Step 1

Dip your cotton balls or cotton pads in rubbing alcohol and gently remove any visible mealybugs. It is easier to use cotton pads rather than cotton balls to remove the white bugs on the leaves and inside the gaps. 

Step 2

Mix one cup of rubbing alcohol with a few drops of washing up liquid and water. Pour the solution into your spray bottle. 

Step 3

Spray the whole plant, not only where you have seen the white bugs but under the leaves, under the stems and on the trunk.

Step 4

Repeat this treatment once or twice a week until there are no mealybugs on your plant. 

NOTE: It would be better, if possible to do this process outside, however, if you can only do it inside make sure you thoroughly clean the area that you have used after the treatment. 

Does Neem Oil work for Mealybugs?

Although rubbing alcohol is one of the best solutions for removing the white bugs neem oil can also be used.  The process will be longer but it is still an effective way to remove mealybugs from your plants. 

Neem oil, originating from the neem tree commonly grown in Qatar, is a natural pest control product. It will kill the mealybugs and also acts as a natural pest control prevention for any other bugs. 

The process for using neem oil is the same as the alcohol rubbing solution above. Neem oil can be purchased from any local garden centre or online.  

It can take several applications to kill and remove the mealybugs, so be patient when using neem oil and continue to reapply until the bugs are gone. 

The ideal solution for mealybug removal would be to use a mixture of neem oil and alcohol rubbing solution.  Once you have removed all the mealybugs and you have not seen any new infestation for a few weeks you can reintroduce your plants back into the area where you keep your indoor plants

cleaning bugs from your leaves

How to prevent mealybugs from coming back

The process of removing mealybugs is frustrating and can take a long time. But the best advice we can give is to persevere with the instructions above and ensure you are relentless in your fight against the bugs. It is not possible to spray the plants once and expect these white bugs to disappear.  It will take several weeks of tender loving care and attention to remove mealybugs. 

Here are a few things to  remember when looking forward to the future without mealybugs;

  • Mealybugs can lay dormant in your plants. After an infection make sure you continue to treat your plants for a few more weeks.
  • Mealybugs can also live in the soil of the houseplant. So if you have been plagued with a reoccurrence of mealybugs it may be worth changing the soil completely.
  • Make sure to check and wash if necessary, the outer rims of your pots and planters. These can also be a place where mealybugs hide.

Most of all stay vigilant. Once you have had one infestation you are more likely to have another. But by staying on top of your plants and checking them before the infestation takes hold you will be able to keep control. 

For more information about plant maintenance take a look at our blog

For more information on indoor plants and the best way to look after them take a look at our blog

If you require help with your indoor or outdoor maintenance please contact the plant maintenance team. ☎ (+974) 66590648 ✆ (+974)66590648 email: [email protected]

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