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Mealybugs and Other Soft-Bodied Insects

Natural and Biological Solutions for Soft-Bodied Insect Control
Controlling Mealybugs - closeup
Photo courtesy of Clemson University Department of Entomology, Soils & Plant Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service.
About Mealybugs: Mealybugs, also commonly called woolly aphids, include many species and have a wide range of host plants. In addition, they may stay dormant on inert material, breaking out when coming into contact with a favorable host plant.

Mealybugs will attack greenhouse ornamental plants, succulents and fruit trees. They are scale like in that they are coated with a woolly, waxy secretion that makes it difficult for a contact insecticide to penetrate and kill them. The insecticides listed below are labeled to control them, especially since mealybugs cannot become immune to their ingredients.

Soft-bodied insects include: adelgids, which attack conifers; aphids; caterpillars; glassy-winged sharpshooter; lace bug; leafhopper; mealybug; plant bug; psyllids, which attack pear, potato, tomato and citrus; soft scale; mites; thrips; and whitefly.

All of these have the same feeding method: sucking and/or chewing the sap out of your plants. Since many of these soft-bodied insects are a major pest and have specific products to combat them, they have their own sections on our website guide. The pest insects underlined above have a link to their sections.

Mealybug Control

If possible, plants infested with mealybugs should be isolated from other plants.

When using an insecticide to kill mealybugs, always try to remove as much of the fluff as possible beforehand. Follow each insecticide’s instructions for control.

Mealybug Destroyer - beneficial insect

Beneficial insects and parasites are considered the best long-term solution for mealybug infestations above ground.

ARBICO offers a unique biological solution: Mealybug Destroyers, which are small dark brown ladybugs with orange heads whose preferred food happens to be all stages of mealybugs! Try our Mealybug Destroyer beneficial insects to keep mealybugs from harming your plants.

The products listed below are recommended for control of mealybugs and other soft-bodied pests.

Mealybug infestation - on Hibiscus plant
Mealybug infestation on hibiscus plant stem.
Here are some sure signs you have mealybugs:
The plant is covered with small insects, which have a grey/white cotton-wool covering, and are usually hidden close to the soil or near the growing tips.
There may be a nest with small fluffy filaments
Plant surface contains honeydew, with or without sooty mold
Infested plants may have a distorted stem or growing points
Crushed mealybugs leave a characteristic red stain
Due to damage, leaves may wilt, drop off easily, be discolored or reduced in size
Ant invasion.  Ants breed and protect mealybugs for their honeydew, just like they do aphids.
Cacti may be attacked at the root level. If you have a plant that is not doing well, take it out of its pot and examine the roots. White patches on the roots or on the outer side of the pot may be mealybugs. Safer® Brand Insect Killing Soap Concentrate II is labeled to control these underground mealybugs.
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Mealybug Destroyer
Mealybug Destroyers are predatory ladybird beetles that feed on several species of mealybugs.

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BONIDE<sup>®</sup> Neem Oil Concentrate - 1 Pint
Multi-purpose concentrate works as a fungicide, insecticide and miticide.

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Monterey 70% Neem Oil Concentrate - 1 Pint
OMRI LISTED. Neem Oil Concentrate That is Effective Against Pest Insects and Fungal Diseases.

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Monterey Horticultural Oil
OMRI LISTED. Multi-Functional Horticultural Oil That Acts as a Fungicide, Insecticide, and Miticide - Suitable for Year-Round.

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Green Lacewing Eggs - Hanging Release Pack
The Hanging Release pack is a thin paper container that can easily be hung or stapled in place.

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Safer<sup>®</sup> Brand Insect Killing Soap - 16 oz. Concentrate
OMRI LISTED. Kills harmful insects while sparing beneficial insects such as lady bugs.

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