How to get rid of mealybugs on succulents

Mealybugs are an utter pain, there are no two ways about it. They can spread fast and they are a nightmare to get rid of. I'm going to talk you through how to spot them and how to kill them.

So what are mealybugs? Mealy bugs are little scale insects that often appear as a white cottony type substance. You often spot them first in the little joints in your succulents like where the leaves meet the stem. They suck the sap out of plants and although it can take a while for any damage to become apparent if they are not treated your plants will eventually suffer. Because they can spread so quickly it is important to act as soon as you spot any, it is also a good idea to move any plants that are infested to isolation to try and reduce the chance of them spreading.

How to kill mealybugs?

  • The first, and possibly the kindest way for your plants, is to treat them with 70% isopropyl alcohol. To kill mealys with alcohol the alcohol has to come in direct contact with them. You can dip a Q-tip in the alcohol and dab the mealys away. You can also use a spray bottle and spray them with the alcohol, if you don't have a spray bottle you can buy the isopropyl alcohol in a spray bottle here. Make sure that you check your plant thoroughly to make sure none are hiding anywhere. Check again every few days just to make sure you have got them all. Remember that mealys can live in soil too so it might be a good idea to give your plants a little watering with the alcohol if your infestation is not going away.

  • Neem oil is also an option, it is nontoxic and has repellent qualities so is a good choice. It can cause damage to leaves though so never apply to plants that are in full sunlight, it can cause your leaves to burn. A patch test is also a good idea on a part of your plant that won't be seen to make sure it won't damage your precious succulents. Mix the neem oil with water, directions should be on the pack, and spray your plants. Repeat again the next week if necessary. 

  • Ladybugs! These are a great natural approach to treating mealys.

  • Insecticidal soap. I haven't tried this personally but have read up on its use. Again you spray or dab onto infected sites. 

  • There are systemic bug killers out there, if you do use these please make sure that you only use them on houseplants. These are very harmful to bees and as we know bees are very important!

If you have a tried and tested way to treat mealybugs I'd love to hear about it in the comments or you can find me across various different social media, links are in the sidebar!

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