Want to learn more about Diagnosis: Mealy bugs

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What are mealybugs?

Mealybugs are one of the most common pests on house plants. If you have found mealybugs on your plant it's important that you take actions. They multiply quickly and can spread onto other plants if left untreated. They can be difficult and very time-consuming to get rid of.


  • Cotton-like, white wax on the plant

  • Sticky sap on leaves and branches of your plant or on surfaces around your plant

  • Yellowing spots and leaves

  • Black sooty mold

  • On outdoor plants - Ants can be seen on plants infested with mealybugs, aphids, white flies or scale insects


What to do now

  • Isolate the affected plant

  • Fight mechanically by removing all visible bugs and wax clusters

  • The waxy ‘fluff’ can be relatively waterproof, so it’s important to clean your plant very thoroughly to try and remove all residue

  • Shower your plant with a jet of water to dislodge any crawlers on the plant

  • Clean windows and wall surfaces where the plant have been placed

  • Treat your plant with a pesticide or insecticidal soap. There are both contact and systemic treatments that can be used against mealybugs

  • Repeat treatment about once a week for the upcoming 4-6 weeks. Then repeat it about once a month for a couple of months. After that you can repeat the treatment if necessary

  • Continue to remove any visible mealy bugs on your plant between the treatments to speed up the process

  • Consider using biological pest control. Biological control can help to reduce an infestation but should be used in combination with other treatments for the best effect.

  • The mealybug ladybug or ladybug destroyer, Cryptolaemus montrouzieri - Both its larvae and the adults feed on all stages of mealybugs But be aware that the larvae of C.montrouzieri is often mistaken for mealybugs as they looks very similar to its prey

Mealybugs 1

Common questions

How big are they?

There are several different species of mealybugs commonly found on house plants. They are all oval shaped and covered in a white, cotton like waxy substance to some degree. Adult Mealybugs are relatively small - between 1/20 to 1/5 of an inch (1 - 4 mm) long with soft, waxy bodies. The male mealybug looks quite different compared to the females: they have wings but are usually only seen around heavily infested house plants. The males don't feed on your plant so you don't need to worry about them.

How can I tell I have mealy bugs?

Many can find it hard to tell the difference between mealybugs, mold, other pests or even parts of the plant, such as the fluffy wool found on some cacti species. One way to tell them apart is that mealybugs are easy to remove with e.g. your finger nail or a q-tip, don't leave any marks or dents on the plant.

What do they eat?

Mealybugs feed on the sap of the plant.

Are my plants at risk?

They attack a wide range of different houseplants, so it’s a good idea to quarantine newly-purchased plants if possible to avoid introducing them into your collection.

How can I prevent this in the future?

The best way to avoid a Mealybug infestation is to act preventatively. Always examine plants before bringing them home. Monitor your plant’s health and check it regularly for early symptoms. Periodic visual inspections are important as these pests like to hide in the small folds and crevices of your plant. Mealybugs also like soft, new growth as well as weak plants.

male mealybug