Houseplants forum: indoor mealy bug infestation

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baewards
Oct 18, 2010 12:23 AM CST
I live in San Francisco in a ground floor apt. with numerous house plants that never go outside. 15 years ago or so, I had an infestation of mealybugs. I diligently combed over every plant with alcohol and a cotton swab, and over several years finally got rid of them. I haven't brought a new plant into the house since.

About a month ago I was watering 2 Christmas cactuses on a window sill and saw with horror that they were heavily infested with mealybugs, so heavily infested that I tossed the plants. I admit I was negligent to have not seen them earlier, but Christmas cactuses are such low maintenance plants that I just wasn't paying attention. This window hasn't been opened for years probably all those 15 years.

A week or so later, 13 feet across the room, a night blooming cereus was seemingly suddenly heavily infested also. That window hasn't been opened in 3 years or more. Since then I've found a few on a dracaena adjacent to the cereus and a few on another Christmas cactus which was midway down the wall between the first infestation and the second. Assuming they somehow got through the window frame where the first 2 plants were infested, they had to have walked the 13 feet across the wall passing by a cycleman, which I know they adore, and 4 African violets which they also seemed to like in the past.

Where did these pernicious little bastards come from?

All I can think to do (who knows how many are still in transit from the original window to the second one) is spray the window frames with insecticide which I'm loathe to do.

If you have any answers to this problem, I'll be grateful.

Beth
Name: Lee Anne Stark
Brockville, Ontario, Canada (Zone 5a)
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threegardeners
Oct 18, 2010 6:30 AM CST

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Hi Beth!

I always go the alcohol route...but then I am in Canada and we don't have access to BATS. A lot of my friends south of the border swear by it.
Bayer's Advanced Tree and Shrub Systemic. You water the plants with it and it kills all leaf sucking bugs (aphids, mealy bugs, etc.).

Hope this helps!

baewards
Oct 19, 2010 8:14 PM CST
Thanks for the advice. If the infestation looks like it'll get out of control, I'll look for the systemic insecticide.

Still I want to know how they got into my living room to begin with.

Beth
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
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plantladylin
Oct 20, 2010 6:30 AM CST
Have you brought any new plant(s) or pot(s) into your home in the past few months? Mealybugs love to travel and can hide in the tiniest places without being noticed. They even like to hide under the rims of planters/pots.

I don't keep too many plants inside my house because the house is old and doesn't have a lot of natural light, so the majority of my plants stay outside on the pool deck and covered porch year round. I live in a humid climate which mealybugs love but I've rarely had a problem with them, except many years ago when a large, prized plant was covered in those white blobs! I sat for hours with q-tips and alcohol removing every sign of those little cottony critters!

This year for some reason I've had infestations of aphids on a couple of Hoya plants. I have many, many plants but these creepy crawlies have only seemed to attack two or three Hoya's for some reason. I keep a small spray bottle filled with isopropyl alcohol out on the deck just for crawlies! I do have the BATS (Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub) which is great for keeping many insects under control, but I'm so lazy I never seem to remember to mix up a batch. Last year I mixed a batch in a 5 gal bucket on my back deck and dunked a lot of plants, just as a preventive. I probably should do it to the Hoya's that the Aphids seem to be attacking!
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Tina_A
Oct 20, 2010 7:14 PM CST
Is there instructions on how much to use for houseplants? I just found some on my milkweed plant which is still in a pot. I also have several plants that I need to debug before they come back into the house.

Tina
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Name: Sue Taylor
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kniphofia
Jul 16, 2011 11:41 PM CST
My yellow clivia has mealybugs. I put it outside in an out of the way spot in early summer because I couldn't bring myself to put it in the bin! Recently I noticed it was developing a flowerbud so it's been given a reprieve but now I'll have to tackle the problem. A systemic insecticide looks like the answer..

Sue
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
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plantladylin
Jul 17, 2011 4:26 AM CST
I use regular old Isopropyl Alcohol (rubbing alcohol) for mealybugs. Pour a little into a cup, dip in a cotton swab and touch the mealies with the tip and wipe them right away. I also keep a spray bottle filled with the Isopropyl Alochol for any plant that might have a lot of bugs. I just move the plant to a shady spot and spray it with the alcohol.
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Name: Jacquie (JB) Berger
Wrightstown, New Jersey (Zone 6b)

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JB
Jul 18, 2011 11:55 AM CST
I propagate and raise Gardenias, Christmas Cactus and Jasmine in the greenhouse and I have several other stock plants of the aforementioned as well as other tropicals in my home and my bird room.

I have had both mealybug and aphids and since it would be a never ending task to wash them with the alcohol I take them outside (if the weather permits) or put them in the slop sink and spray wash them with plain water. When I get the worst off them, knowing they are tricky little devils, I spray with a mix of Dawn, Water and Neems oil. Top and bottom of the leaves and all the stems. It works very well and is natural. I can not spray anything inside because i have several parrots. I also pour some on the soil and around the pot top and bottom after washing them with the water.

My problems will start all over again when I bring in the plants from the outside prior to frost. If it happens in the greenhouse, I do the same thing as I do with the houseplants. A good washing and spraying.

You may have to spray a few times before you get them all in the event you missed some during the washing. This is what works for me since I do not have a lot of time. I am required to have my greenhouse inspected once a year by the State in order to be a Certified Nursery and ship starter plants all over the USA. The Dept. of Ag. inspectors also suggest the mixture I use.

This may help those of you who have a problem with the stronger sprays. Have a great Day. I tip my hat to you.
Name: Sheryl
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sheryl
Aug 6, 2011 6:31 PM CST
Oh, boy am I having fun with the $#@* mealy bugs right now. They love, love, love coleus.
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Name: Jacquie (JB) Berger
Wrightstown, New Jersey (Zone 6b)

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JB
Aug 7, 2011 9:21 AM CST
Sheryl, this must be their "season" I just had to take two of my house gardenias outside, scrub them and spray them. They were filled with mealy bug and there were no new plants added to their room, no nothing. They must have been on a pot or container that I did not see them. Man, they are making me crazy tooooooooo!
Name: Jen Smith
NE Washington State (Zone 5a)
Jeanette
Aug 8, 2011 11:52 AM CST
I am not sure what the mealy bugs look like. I have little white specks here and there on my gardenia, and it is sitting right next to a coleus,and amongst all my other house plants on a table and it is the only one that has this. Do you think these are mealy bugs? Should I try to do something about them now?

I normally use the 3 in one Rose care that is a systemic just like the tree and shrub mix (same mfg) on my container plants like the brugs etc.. Thought it might be easier on them. But, yes, it does have rose food in it too. So far that hasn't hurt them at all, and the brugs love it. What do you think? Should I treat them now?

I was spaying with Al Tapla's insect spray recipe which is dawn, alcohol, neem and water and it does help, but it is pretty strong alcohol. A pint of it to a pint of water.

The thread "indoor mealy bug infestation" in Houseplants forum
Jen
Name: Sheryl
Hot, hot, hot, Feenix, AZ (Zone 9b)
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sheryl
Aug 8, 2011 8:10 PM CST
They look pretty innocuous - just tiny white dots, pin-head size, or a little larger and maybe fuzzy. I don't think I've ever really noticed one moving or anything.

But yeah, I'd treat anything that I even vaguely suspect has them - they spread quickly and when you think you've eradicated them, the eggs hatch.... Grumbling
In the end, only kindness matters.

Science is not the answer, it is the question.



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dogpack
Dec 12, 2012 9:44 PM CST
They are crafty little buggers. My NP is suffering with them. It took me over a year to discover why my NP was going brown from the bottom up. I finally got the idea to lookaat the plant a few days ago with my magnifying camera which I use to be able to read books. Sure enough the microscopic cotton fluff was on the NP. I'll have to attack them with a spraying because with the camera it is basically impossible to dab with alcohol. Without the camera, I'm not able to see them. So far I've been spraying the NP with BASIC H and water solution..
Name: Sheryl
Hot, hot, hot, Feenix, AZ (Zone 9b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Southwest Gardening Keeps Horses Dog Lover Cat Lover Permaculture
Butterflies Birds Cottage Gardener Herbs I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Irises
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sheryl
Dec 14, 2012 11:53 AM CST
I'd take it outside, ASAP, before it infects other plants.
In the end, only kindness matters.

Science is not the answer, it is the question.


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