The Q&A Archives: Neathe Bella Palm Tree

Question: I have a Neathe Bella Palm Tree which was doing well until recently. I took it to a place which diagnosed my problem as spider mites, but they coudn't find any of the mites on any of the leaves. So they said to wash it with soap and water. I did that, but while I was doing it I still couldn't find any mites, just like them. All of the new growth has white specks on it, like paint, and it didn't come off while washing, so maybe you could help me. This tree has been living with North Easter Exposure and moderate light.

Answer: Spider mites are often found on palm fronds because they like dry, dusty sites and palms often get dusty. But, Spider mites leave a tell-tale webbing along with stippling on the leaves. If you couldn't find any mites, or any webbing, it's not likely these insects are the culprits. The white specks can indicate a fungal disease, caused by high humidity and poor air circulation. Or, they could be Mealy Bug insects. These are small pests covered with a white, cottony substance, but they generally congregate in colonies rather than appear individually on leaves. I'd suggest getting a second opinion by taking a sample to your local Cooperative Extension office or Master Gardener clinic. Phone (603) 788-4961 to find out where and when their plant problem diagnostic clinics are held.

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