Mealybugs are soft-bodied insects that protect themselves with a cottony coating. They are most prominently garden pests in the south, and houseplant pests up north. They're very active as youngsters, but settle down to eat when they grow up.
They Cotton Your Plants. Here's How to Stop Them.
That white, cottony stuff you see on your plants is telling you one thing: You have mealybugs. Mealybugs cover themselves in undigested sap, or honeydew, which they suck out of your favorite plants. The cottony coating protects them against predators and many control products, but you can outsmart them. Here's how:
The Best Defense Is A Good Offense.
Healthy plants are less susceptible to mealybug infestations than plants that are hungry, weak, and stressed. If you only have a few mealybugs on your plants, try washing them off with a steady stream of water. Repeat as necessary. It may not completely eliminate the problem, but it can help keep a small problem from developing into a big one.
Break Down Their Defenses
That cottony coating is good protection against many sprays. There are two ways to get around it. One is to use a systemic bug control. Ortho® Rose & Flower Insect Killer Ready-To-Use and Ortho® Flower, Fruit & Vegetable Insect Killer are absorbed and held in the plant leaves and protect for up to 4 weeks. When the mealybugs feed on the plant, it kills them. Another way is to smother them with an oil spray, such as Ortho® Fruit Tree Spray. Check the label to make sure your plant is listed and always follow label directions for use.
If mealybugs come back, reapply your treatment. Consistent application will beat them, even if it takes a little time.