Mealybugs Identification, Damage, and Management

Mealybugs Identification Damage and Management l

What Do Mealybugs Look Like?

Identification. Mealybugs are tiny, flat, insects with segmented bodies covered in a white to grayish waxy film.

How Long Do Mealybugs Live?

Lifespan. The adult male mealybug’s sole purpose is to fertilize the eggs of the female.  It has no feeding parts and will die within one to two days.

How Do I Know If I Have Mealybugs?

Damage.  There are several telltale signs that mealybugs may be attacking your plants.  Here’s what to look for.

Mealybugs congregate in colonies and are visible stacked together.  Look for white, cottony masses along stems and leaves of plants.

Mealybugs feed on stems and leaves of plants. Large populations will cause damage and retard plant growth.  Look for premature leaf drop, twig dieback, or fruit drop.

Mealybugs may leave a waxy film on fruit.

The honeydew excreted by mealybugs is a breeding ground for sooty mold.

How to Get Rid of Mealybugs

Control. Because the hard, waxy body of the mealybug protects it from insecticides, treatments are generally ineffective.

Can I Get Rid of Mealybugs Naturally?

Parasitic Insects. Several species of parasitic insects provide good control of mealybugs.

Natural Predators. Lady beetles, syrphid flies, and lacewings are natural predators of mealybugs.

Organic Methods. Insecticidal soap and narrow range oils may be effective when used systematically.  A good spray with hose can remove them from the plant.

Cultural Controls. It is important to control the ant populations that are attracted by the honeydew that the mealybug produces.  Ants disrupt the activities of natural enemies.

Can I Prevent Mealybugs?

Prevention. Successful control of mealybug populations hinge on limiting the spread of infected plant material.   Ant populations should be a primary focus of control because they protect the mealybug from natural enemies and they also carry them from one host plant to another.

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