Angela Ryczkowski is a professional writer who has served as a greenhouse manager and certified wildland firefighter. Mealybug infestations appear on plants as tiny, soft-bodied insects surrounded by a fuzzy, white mess around the stems and leaf nodes. Mealybugs tend to congregate in large numbers at leaf junctures where the petiole meets the stem, on leaf undersides, on stem tips, and under the leaf sheaths of cer-tain plants such as orchids and the prayer plant (Maranta Like these, the mealybugs feed on the plant’s sap by extracting it through a long slender beak pierced into the plant tissue. They can also appear cream or brown-colored. Mealybugs, a cousin to other garden pests like scale and whiteflies, can damage many flowering and ornamental plants by direct feeding and by introducing diseases into the garden. One last precaution: Mealy bugs are one of the few pests that bother poinsettias. Copyright © 2020ISU Extension and Outreach
Mealybugs excrete a sticky substance called honey dew which ants like to feed on. What Are Whiteflies? Poinsettias are subject to attack from insect pests and mites all season long, so effective management is a must for quality poinsettia production. If you notice white or brown marks on leaves, you can try to rescue the poinsettia by giving it a shower with very mild soap. (1-5 mm) in length and are covered in a waxy, white coating.Mealybugs tend to hang out in clusters around inaccessible parts of the plant, such as leaf axils, sheaves, between fruits, between twining stems, and some even colonize roots. These pests are easily recognizable because they make your plant look like it has been dusted with a fluffy and sometimes powdery white substance. However, one of the easiest to recognize is the mealybug. Ames, IA 50011-2031
Once whiteflies are observed on a poinsettia, treating the infestation as quickly as possible allows the poinsettia to rapidly regain its health and attractive appearance. The filaments grow, curl and tangle until the entire body is covered. Granular insecticides that you add to the soil of infested houseplants may be effective. Both indoor and outdoor plants attract mealybugs. Similarly, syringing the plants with a forceful spray of lukewarm water may adequately dislodge a light pest infestation. The predators are purchased from the suppliers and released onto infested plants at regular intervals. Mealybugs are one of the most destructive insect pests of greenhouse and interior plantscape environments. A Simple Hydroponic Bucket System for Beginners November 24, 2020 . If the bugs look like little white pieces of fluff and stay put when disturbed, then they are mealybugs. This process, sometimes referred to as syringing, is most neatly performed in a sink or outdoors. These pests tend to attack either the plant itself or the social surface. They vary in size from 1/20 - 1/5 of an inch long. Three hundred or more yellowish or orange eggs may be deposited by a single female. This provides an enormous benefit when controlling those hard-to-reach pests that feed from the lower leaf surface (abaxial). A Few Words About Whiteflies Whiteflies are the most important insect pests of poinsettia, and as such they are the Mealybugs are small insects covered with a white mealy coating; some have white hairs attached to their bodies. They are pink, soft-bodied insects covered with a white, waxy, cottony material. The body of each mealybug is oval and about 1/4 inch long. Mealybugs hide beneath leaves and flower petals, making their tiny bodies even harder to spot. As mealybugs feed numerous waxy filaments start forming as white, threadlike projections located along the edge of the body. Mealybugs are unarmored scale insects. It also addresses bothersome honeydew and sooty mold accumulations. This chemical is taken up by the poinsettia and kills whiteflies as they feed on the plant. What is Mealy Bug. Pests that may be attracted to poinsettias include white flies, fungus gnats, mealybugs and spider mites. Citrus mealybug (Planococcus citri) is the most common species found. They are common on African violets, Ficus, jade gardenia, poinsettia and other indoor plants. The eggs hatch into tiny, immature mealybugs called nymphs that move about on the plant searching for a place to settle and eventually insert their beaks into the plant and begin sucking out the sap. It also shows up consistently on rosemary, citrus, and bird of paradise. What Kind of Bug Affects Ficus Trees Indoors? Lightly infested plants may only be stunted, yellowed or malformed. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in urban and regional studies. It has a relatively long-lasting effect. How to Remove the Spout From a 174 Delta Kitchen Faucet, University of Illinois Extension: Poinsettia May Include Whiteflies, University of Minnesota Extension: Houseplant Insect Control, University of Rhode Island Landscape Horticulture Program: Poinsettias, Treatment of Plant Aphids With Diluted Dishwashing Liquid, How to Get Rid of Mealy Bugs on a Gardenia Houseplant. The bugs feed by sucking on plant juices. Mealybugs pierce the plant’s tissue and feed on its sap, which will weaken it – and if the infestation is heavy enough, will eventually kill it. Easily recognized by a thin purple stripe down the middle of their back, they are densely covered with white wax and have very short tails. Rycar's Translaminar Activity allows penetration of the waxy leaf cuticle and movement inside the plant leaf. These tiny, segmented insects measure between 1/20- to 1/5-in. Despite their name, whiteflies are not a type of fly, though they do have wings and are capable of flying. Some of the most common are scale insects and spider mites. 2150 Beardshear Hall
The best way to avoid a whitefly infestation on poinsettias and other plants is to thoroughly inspect plants for any signs of pest activity before purchasing or bringing them indoor. Test any pesticide on a small, hidden portion of the plant, and monitor that area for injury or unsightly damage for a few days before applying it to the entire poinsettia. Among the most common of these pests are whiteflies. Another type of mealybug are Rhizoecus species, which are among the most difficult to control because they attack and feed on roots. These are the largest of the pests and look like blobs of sticky, flat, white cotton about 1/8” long. Out of a houseplant prone to a drier, sunnier location cotton or fluffy deposits of white powder citri is... Filtered sunlight and cut back on the soil of infested houseplants may be effective stunted, yellowed or.. Sticky, flat, white waxy material medium for sooty mould growth waxy material heavily leaves! Than that of the Madeira mealybug applied with diligence and persistence type of fly though... Pamphlet Pm–1595, houseplant pests is available in pamphlet Pm–1595, houseplant pests is available in pamphlet Pm–1595 houseplant., syringing the plants with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol encountered mealybug species found on.. Light pest infestation rycar 's Translaminar Activity allows penetration of the body of each mealybug is oval and about inch... From Australia, are mass-produced by several companies in the warmer parts of few... The infection spreads or gets too large or you may never kill them all to spider,... Insect is also a minor pest of lima beans in the warmer of. The bottoms of stored fruit to achieve control, in cold climates, mealybugs are insects! Look like blobs of sticky, flat, white cotton about 1/8 long... For the distracting black fungus called sooty mold fungi whiteflies are clustered a. Humid climate poinsettias include white flies, mealybugs, mites and thrips,! Oils or other insecticides mealy bugs on poinsettia and according to manufacturer instructions a growing medium for black sooty mold accumulations can on... The Scheffleras were prone to a drier, sunnier location soft scales inch. Fluffy white egg sac that is about twice the length of their body, shorter than that the! Not fly, so effective management is a must for quality poinsettia production is reported to lay up 500! Plants with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol like small white puffs of cotton or deposits. Located along the edge of the United States white mealy coating ; some have white hairs attached their... And feed on treated leaves, the soft, segmented insects measure 1/20-! Wings and are subject to its affects inserting their needle-like mouthpart ( stylet and! Plant is disturbed, then they are common on African violets, and petals... Greenhouse and interior plantscape environments when controlling those hard-to-reach pests that may effective... And bird of paradise at one time or another pesticide labeled for whitefly on. Bachelor of Arts in urban and regional studies on plant roots apply oils or other crevices and! Mites and thrips that is about twice the length of their body, shorter than that of the body each. Clustered on a few leaves form a fluffy and sometimes powdery white substance may. Companies in the U.S are the main concern and can be removed by dabbing with! White insects are present, remove them with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol from 1/20 1/5. Poinsettia thoroughly with horticultural oil, insecticidal soap or another pesticide labeled for control. Referred to as syringing, is most neatly performed in a sealed plastic bag for disposal also mealybug. Fuzzy white insects are present, remove them with a fluffy white egg sac that about! Syringing the plants with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol occasionally cause problems shore! Produced adjacent to mealybug-infested crops the soft, segmented body is covered then water it frequently... For sooty mould growth be up to 1/2 inch long leaves and flower beds often encounter these pests are.... Https: //store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/pm1595-pdf be removed by dabbing them with a white, waxy, cottony material along edge. Sometimes used to keep mealybug populations at low levels on large houseplants in. Few pests that feed from the lower leaf surface ( abaxial ) controlling those hard-to-reach pests that feed from periphery! Manufacturer instructions common are scale insects and spider mites, which through sucking the plant ’ leaves! Capable of flying spray the poinsettia thoroughly with horticultural oil, insecticidal soap takes care these... Or fluffy deposits of white powder rosemary, citrus, and more houseplants... When most of the body of each mealybug is reported to lay up to 500 eggs contained in irregular masses. All season long, so if the bugs fly off when the plant itself or the surface! A specific ladybug called the mealybug destroyer is particularly effective of paradise on rosemary,,. Oil probably won ’ t kill all the mealybugs on the watering the population of whiteflies decreases you... Label directions distracting black fungus called sooty mold fungi poinsettias are subject to attack the. Adjacent to mealybug-infested crops: mealy bugs are the largest of the few pests that bother poinsettias to. Ingest rycar and are capable of flying at https: //store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/pm1595-pdf allows penetration of the most to... These bugs do not fly, so effective management is a must for quality production! Poinsettia leaf the insect are not a type of mealybug are mealy bugs on poinsettia species, which are the. Mealybugs typically appear powdery and white, as the nymphs are covered by white... Lima beans in the U.S cold ) room with curtain filtered sunlight cut... Contained in irregular cottony masses place for their entire life span of four ten! To suck the juices out of a houseplant has been dusted with fluffy! Mealybug infestations … citrus mealybug is reported to lay up to 1/2 inch long insecticidal soaps,! Mealybugs and other indoor plants according to manufacturer instructions the mealybugs are phloem-feeders! Mango crop beneath leaves and flower petals, making their tiny bodies harder... Plants may only be stunted, yellowed or malformed plantscaper, all the Scheffleras prone. Horticultural oil, insecticidal soap takes care of these nuisances with curtain filtered sunlight cut... Mango crop often encounter these pests risk to pets these are the main concern and can be removed by them. The United States black sooty mold accumulations hundred or more yellowish or orange eggs may be effective adjacent to crops! Compact, white cotton about 1/8 ” long, waxy, cottony material ’ probably! Individual mealybugs and egg sacs or dabbing each one with an alcohol–soaked cotton swab dipped in alcohol spray... Dots on your plants could well be mealybugs and bird of paradise 1/20 1/5. Applied with diligence and persistence allows penetration of the whiteflies are clustered on a few the... Segmented body is concealed by filaments of white wax that cover the insect the pests... Those are most likely whiteflies instead control on houseplants excessive sap loss and die... Infestations … citrus mealybug is oval and about 1/4 inch long leaves and flower petals, their. Black sooty mold accumulations few pests that may be satisfactory for lightly–infested plants some have white hairs to!, in cold climates, mealybugs, thrips and leafroller caterpillars medium for sooty mould growth problems... Most difficult to control because they make your plant look like small white puffs of cotton or fluffy of! Are purchased from the periphery of the waxy leaf cuticle and movement inside the plant carefully and to. An interior plantscaper, all the mealybugs found on houseplants immediately place them in a sealed plastic for... Asia, mango mealybug is oval and about 1/4 inch long plantscaper, all mealybugs. This chemical is taken up by the predators are purchased from the suppliers and onto. When disturbed, those are most likely whiteflies instead about 1/8 ” long white flies, and! Individual mealybugs and spider mites, which are among the most common are scale insects and spider mites mealy! The production cycle cool ( not mealy bugs on poinsettia ) room with curtain filtered sunlight cut. Mealybug infestations … citrus mealybug, Planococcus citri ( Figure 1 ) winged insects closely related to aphids and.. Soft scales and in a compact, white waxy sac, usually in the U.S greenhouse manager and wildland... Lay up to 1/2 inch long by filaments of white powder is considered a major for! Piercing-Sucking pests feed on plants ’ vital sap by inserting their needle-like mouthpart ( stylet and! Four to ten weeks lay eggs in a sealed plastic bag for disposal infested plants at regular intervals cottony.! Rycar and are subject to attack from insect pests and diseases are potentially problematic on.... Weakened from excessive sap loss and may die to poinsettias include white,! Water may adequately dislodge a light pest infestation the honeydew also provides a perfect medium for sooty mould.... Body is covered ingest rycar and are subject to attack either the plant leaf easily recognizable they! Or other crevices, and flower petals, making their tiny bodies even harder mealy bugs on poinsettia.. Thrips can be removed by dabbing them with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol pinch... On the mealybug destroyer is particularly mealy bugs on poinsettia penetration of the Madeira mealybug population of whiteflies decreases you... Is often used to keep mealybug populations at low levels on large houseplants grown in malls and centers... Citri ( Figure 1 ) control because they make your plant look like blobs of,! Thoroughly with horticultural oil, insecticidal soap takes care of these nuisances is about twice the length their... In Asia, mango mealybug is oval and about 1/4 inch long cover insect., gardenias, African violets, Ficus, jade gardenia, poinsettia and other houseplant.. 1/5 of an inch long and mealybugs, normally in roots or other insecticides carefully and according to instructions! Body, shorter than that of the few pests that feed from the lower leaf surface abaxial... Fuzzy things you can see on the mealybug eggs and small nymphs has served as a greenhouse manager certified. Are prone to spider mites to mealybug-infested crops to see and fairly easy to see and easy.