Landscaping & Nursery Information for Home Gardeners


Mealy bugs are houseplant insects that produce a white cottony mass around their body. Damage occurs due to the sucking action of the insect, distorting the new tissue and leaves. A sticky sap-like substance may be found on leaves and stems.

Insecticidal soaps and regular washings can help limit insect build-ups.

Rubbing Alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) can be used to control some mealybugs.

Prepare a small container of rubbing alcohol. Using a cotton swab or cotton ball, dab the alcohol on the insect. Wait several minutes and wash off the plant.

Alcohol can dry out a plant, especially the buds and growing points. Rinsing with water within five minutes should prevent damage. Avoid using rubbing alcohol on the plants' growing points.

A good mealy bug cure which may be sprayed:
2 litres of water
5 milliliters of malathion. 
40 millilitres methylated spirits
5 milliliters of dishwashing liquid 

Cactus and succulents are commonly infested with mealybugs as are many flowering plants.

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See also Garden Pests & Insects

Related Insect Pests at Virginia State University

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