Gardening Mealybugs

eddie b

May 11, 2024
Temperate (all seasons)
Hi All

Wondering on what is the best cure for mealybugs and where they come from.
I've been growing veges at home for 40 years and never had mealy bugs before, butfor the last 4 years they have come in and smashed my cauli, brocolli and cauli.
Where do they come from and how do you get rid of the suckers?
I know you can spray them with chems but I prefer not to if possible. Water blasting them is not really a solution just a stop gap.

Anyone got some good tips?
Ahh mealybugs. Every gardeners' enemy.

They are commonly found in greenhouses as they like warm and moist surroundings. Perhaps they traveled in with a plant you bought, but they could've very well just traveled your way over the years. It might've even been the right weather for them to absolutely boom everywhere - I noticed I might have some on my plants as of a couple of days ago. The sudden large numbers of ants crawling up and down my plant signalled me to their locations.

Do you have any current methods of getting rid of them going on? Some people prefer pesticides, whereas other like getting predatory beetles. Personally, as it also works for the other pests that I have (and nothing else worked for my location), I use EcoNeem-Oil that I buy from Bunnings and mix myself. Just beware that pesticides can harm beneficial insects too, so I don't spray when my plants are flowering, if I can avoid it.
I don't want to use pesticides because they are on what I eat, Is neem oil ok?
So basically once you have them they are there forever.?
From what you're saying they they like warm moist climate but not hot weather which would make sense as it is warmer than normal for this time of the year
Options for you include introducing predator species such as ladybugs or lacewings. If you're in Australia, our native mealybug destroyer (Cryptolaemus montrouzieri) is specialised in the decimation of scale insects of all kinds.

Neem oil will poison mealybugs when they bite leaves, but you have to get it into all the nooks and crannies of your plant because that's where they hide (on my citrus tree, they hide in the crevice between the leaf petiole and the thorns on the stem, so I push the petiole up against the thorn and squash them all at once).

One organic site recommended isopropyl alcohol rubbed with cotton buds/ear buds onto your affected plants, but that is for indoor use as outdoor plants may suffer with alcohol application (or you could apply alcohol at dusk so the plants do not suffer during the overnight treatment)
I like to spray them off with a bit of pressure from my hose, then let the plant dry and spray with eco-Neem oil after. According to the instructions, don't spray a week before harvesting. If it's not raining, I spray maybe every week to every other week, depending on the severity of the infestation and how fast they return. I find that they usually disappear during certain parts of the year, which means I don't spray year round either.

Also, I know that @JP 1983 's information is generally legit so I would definitely give that a try. Plus what he says does sound familiar to me as well.

It might take some trial and error, but eventually you might find something that works for you. In my case, I've exhausted the "friendly" options, so eco-Neem oil was my "last" resort, other than more agressive pesticides.
Generally, when they first show up, I try to crush them and/or spray them off of my plants. If they persist, that's when I start the process of treating my plants.
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