The Q&A Archives: White Bugs On Hibiscus

Question: I was given a hibiscus to bring inside for the winter, and have noticed small white bugs on some leaves. Could you tell me what they are, and possibly a way to get rid of them other than spraying?

Answer: It is possible that the bugs you are seeing are whiteflies, a pest typically found on tropical hibiscus, if they are tiny white flying insects. They might also be mealy bugs, if they look a bit like cottony tufts. The strategy for both would include isolating the plant to avoid infecting others, and to use an insecticidal soap according to the instructions. The mealy bugs can also be caught by hand or dabbed with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. You may also have some limited success in rinsing the pests off under a gentle stream of tepid water, but in my experience the insecticidal soap is usually more helpful. Be sure to read and follow the instructions, including the timing for reapplication. Whiteflies in particular can be very difficult to control.

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