Mealy bugs are parasitic insects with strong specificity. In the wild, they can parasitize on the hive of bees. They mainly eating cocoons, pollen, and the skins of bees. They are scale insects that are very common to be found in plants indoor and outdoor.
Life Cycle of Mealy Bugs
Mealy bugs are proliferating every year. Generally, the female bugs will lay eggs in March and April, with about 7000 eggs (the ratio of female to male is about 1:3).
The eggs hatch into larvae from April to May. The female larvae are scattered on the leaves, and the male larvae live under the leaves.
After 20 days, they shed their skins and become second-instar larvae. They will then leaving the foliar surface to dwell on the branches. At the same time, the females will disperse the males.
The male larva can secrete wax. They will pupate in August, and pupae emerge as male adults in early September. They will then look for female adults for mating, and die after 5-10 days.
In August, the second-instar female larvae become adults. After mating, the body gradually grows up. The eggs were laid in March-April the following year and died soon after. The egg particles in the eggshell are the seeds of the mealy bugs.
Where do Mealy Bugs Come From?
We often found insects spontaneously coming out of nowhere. This makes many of you having the questions like where do these insects come from? Why do mealy bugs appear on my plants?
Well, they can come from everywhere. They may come from the soil of the plants that you got, they may come from outdoor if you put your plants outside, or from plants that you just bought from the gardening store.
Generally, plants are having their own communication by their own chemistry. If any stress or disturbance happened to them, they will have some volatile chemicals that might be coming off of their leaves or stems. If there is a sign of stress, it may attract insects like mealy bugs coming in. Sometimes they will start to build their home inside the soil and start breeding from there.
How Do They Spread?
Mealy bugs were originated in tropical and subtropical regions. Since the 1880s, with the ever-increasing worldwide trade activities, mealy bugs have spread rapidly with the help of seedlings of flowers and crops.
They have spread widely and caused outbreaks all over the world.
If you are familiar with mealy bugs at all, you already know that they can be a troublesome pest deal with. The truth of the matter, however, is that the more information you have on them, the better off you are going to be when it comes to getting rid of them!
Take a look and make sure that you know what you need to know about these pests.
These bugs are all part of the insect family Pseudococcidae, which is a family of unarmored, scaled insects that are most common in warm and moist climates.
They feed on plant sap, whether in the roots or in other crevices, and they essentially do this through first attaching themselves to the plant and then secreting a sticky layer of wax that will protect them until they are done.
They are easily recognizable thanks to the white wax that they exude when they are feeding on your plants. This can often make them look as though they have been rolled in flour.
At first glance, mealy bugs on plants may look a little fluffy because of the way the wax pulls and contorts. If you have an infestation of these garden pests, there is a good chance the stems and the roots of the plant in question look quite white.
The males are short-lived and do not feed at all as adults. Instead, they exist only to fertilized females. The female is the one that you will see causing harm to your garden. There are several species of these garden pests that might infest your garden.
What Damage do These Bugs Cause?
When you are looking at mealy bugs on plants, you will find that they can cause a whole host of problems through their sap-sucking activities. For instance, when there are enough of them, they can cause issues like leaf yellowing, leaf curling, or leaf dropping.
One of the big problems that come along with infestation is the fact that they are often not noticeable until it is too late. If the infestation is mild enough, there will be no significant harm done.
How Can Natural Pest Control Kill These Bugs Naturally?
In the first place, you will find these insects are hard to get rid of using pesticides; they nest in very small crevices and leaf folds where pesticides cannot reach them.
Control and Treatment
The first step is to look into good plant management. Inspect all the plants that you purchase by looking under leaves and in the new leaf folds. When you see some, remove that portion from the plant and make sure that you clean the pots thoroughly.
Don’t let the cuttings stay in the garden, but instead remove them. If you have a bad infestation, you can rinse them away with water, but to get the best results, rub them away with a cloth.
If you are looking for a good natural mealy bugs treatment, consider bringing in the ladybeetle, which devours the bugs at all stages in life.
Here are some of the ways that you can use to kill mealy bugs naturally:
Use Dish Soap To Kill Mealy Bugs
It is rather easy for you to kill mealy bugs with the use of a dish soap spray. If you don’t have dish soap, you can also use shampoo or hand soap. You can get any container with a spray feature that you can get in your house. Recycle it and turn it into a dish soap spray.
Add in a few tablespoons of the soap into the container. You can add in more soap if you want your soap to be stronger. If you are going to use it now you can just mix it with water and shake it up. Ideally, it is good for you to mix your soap with hot water as it can help to spray and kills bugs even faster. But remember, you need to consider whether your plant can tolerate the temperature of hot water or not first.
Get your readily dish soap spray and spray down your plants. It is recommended for you to do this at night time so that you don’t restrict the plant from doing what it needs to do during the day.
When comes in the morning time, you can rinse the plant with regular water to clear off the residue. Repeat this process nightly for a few days until all the bugs are completely gone.
Use Baking Soda
Baking soda and water all by itself is a good fungicide.
If you grow cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, or any similar crops, you might attract mealy bugs. If so, you can mix equal parts of baking soda and all-purpose flour together, then take them to dust your plants.
You dust it and the mealy bugs get in contact with them, they will die. They won’t be able to lay any more eggs. It may take a couple of days but over time the mealy bugs will disappear.
In addition, if you want to discourage mealy bugs to proliferate in your garden, you can use baking soda as well. Don’t just sprinkle the baking soda directly on some of your plants like the cabbages. Your plants are hardy enough to handle the baking soda. So, it is just not a good idea for you to sprinkle directly on the plants unless it is mixed with water.
The baking soda can burn your leaves if you apply it in dry conditions.
Besides using baking soda, you can also use salt to get rid of mealy bugs. You can just pour salt directly on them and it will kill them as well.
Also, you can wash your hands with a little sprinkle of some baking soda. This will give your hands a good scrub. It will also help to get rid of mealy bug and any dirt that’s embedded in your skin. After using it, you will find your hands are nice and clean.
DIY Ethyl Alcohol
You can make your own ethyl alcohol. What you need to do is prepare a plastic container and some rice.
Put the rice into the plastic container. Pour water into the container and shake it well. Put the lid to cover up the container and leave it for 7 days.
After 7 days, the mixture of rice and water in the container will get fermented and into ethanol or ethyl alcohol.
Prepare another empty container and a sieve. Place the sieve on the empty container.
Open up the lid of the container that contained the fermented ethanol. Pour it over to the empty container by filtering through the sieve. Leave all the rice on the sieve. We only want liquid ethyl alcohol.
Pour the ethyl alcohol into a spray bottle. Then you can use it to spray on the leaves and stems of your plants that are having mealy bugs.
Ethyl alcohol is very effective in getting rid of mealybugs.
Use Neem Oil
If you only found a few mealy bugs on your plant, you can just wipe them off with your hands, or use a towel, or a q-tip. This will get this stick stuff off the leaves.
You can make use of neem oil by diluting it first with 1% neem oil and 99% water. You can add a little bit of soap cause oil and water don’t mix.
By adding the soap, it will help to emulsify them and let neem oil and water to mix together.
You can use this neem oil solution to spray the foliage as it will suffocate the larva stages and the adults’ mealy bugs so that you can control them and give your plant a good treatment.
Make a Vinegar Home Remedy
A lot of people have tried to use vinegar to take care of mealy bugs that grow in plants. I don’t recommend you do this because it oftentimes can damage the plant. It is doing more harm than good.
Vinegar is acetic acid which can be very damaging to plants. It can be like herbicides where some people using them to get rid of mealy bugs and other pests. This can put a great deal of poison into the groundwater and killing off some of the other plants. It also creates a toxic environment for us our drinking water and many other problems.
If you do have mealy bugs that you are trying to get rid of in your garden and you are not able to use other natural means, you can consider using a little bit of apple cider vinegar instead of pure vinegar.
You can mix water with the apple cider vinegar to dilute the liquid. Then use a spray bottle to spray that particular plant. You have to do it a couple of days in a row. By doing that you won’t cause any damage to the environment.
You don’t have to use fancy organic vinegar. You can just get the cheapest apple cider vinegar that you can find in your local grocery store.
Do mealy bugs bite humans?
No, they don’t bite people. They just making harm to the plants. However, your skin may get irritation if you are having contact with them.
At what temperature do mealy bugs die?
The ideal temperature for mealy bugs to live is between 70 degrees F – 92 degrees F. Most of the mealy bugs cannot survive low winter temperatures that are less than 120 degrees F and they will die. They also cannot survive if the temperature is more than 115 degrees F.
Pouring hot water with a temperature of 120 degrees F can also kill the plants. However, before you pour the hot water, you need to ensure that your plant can tolerate it. Otherwise, you may kill the mealy bugs and your plants at the same time.
Will mealy bugs die outside?
Some mealy bugs can tolerate certain hot and cold temperatures, therefore, they won’t die outside. Nonetheless, most of them cannot survive outside especially in hot temperatures during summer and cold temperatures during winter.
Can mealy bugs infest your house?
Mealy bugs are not like termites. They tend to just settle under the plant’s leaves and stems, or inside the soil. Therefore, they will only infest plants and pots.