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Mealybugs are an insect pest of many different plant types and Glasshouse Mealybugs represent a serious problem pest for House Plants, Ornamental plants, Tomatoes, Grape Vines, Cacti and Succulents. They get their name from the white waxy material that covers them. There are several different species that can be found on plants. These include;
Mealybugs suck sap out of plants, this weakens plants and stunts growth. This can also cause plant leaves to go yellow and eventually fall off. Flowers and fruit can also sustain such damage. Some species of mealybugs can also spread plant viruses. The amount of sap that mealybugs can consume is significant. Once they absorb the proteins they need from the sap they excrete the waste onto plants in the form of honeydew. This often makes the plants sticky and black moulds will often then grow on the honeydew, further damaging the appearance of plants.
Once Mealybugs are observed it is sometimes possible to clean them off plants. They are very good at hiding on plants, however, so this can be difficult and not a practical solution to find them all. There are some biological controls available in the form of predators and parasites. Most of these require warm temperatures to be active though, so if Mealybugs are present in cooler and cold areas, first physically remove them, or spray them with a non-toxic product like SB Plant Invigorator. This will slow down the development of the Mealybug without leaving harmful residues that may cause harm when introducing beneficial insects.
The most effective and commonly used biological control of Mealybug is the Ladybird species; Cryptolaemus montrouzieri.This species of Ladybird will feed on Mealybugs as an adult and when it is in its larval form. For direct control of Mealybugs, it can be easier to choose and apply Cryptolaemus larvae, as this is the stage of the life cycle when the Ladybirds do not have wings. This allows them to be applied directly onto the Mealybugs, or close by, without them flying off to other areas. If you have difficult to access areas of Mealybugs, such as on very tall or inaccessible plants, it can be better to opt for the adult Cryptolaemus, as they can fly and locate the Mealybugs.