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Signs of damage
- At low pest levels, the damage is usually insignificant. At higher numbers, mealybugs can provoke leaf yellowing and curling. These symptoms are often accompanied by honeydew. Mealybugs secrete a sugar-rich liquid that makes the plant sticky.
- The honeydew and wax mealybugs reduce plant and fruit quality. You can also notice black sooty mold growing on the honeydew.
- High populations of mealybugs feeding on stems or foliage hamper plant growth.
- Leaf drop is another common sign of a mealybug infestation.
How to prevent
Maintain your houseplant's overall health. Healthy plants can handle intermediate infestations without significant damage.
Do not overwater or overfertilize your greenery. Mealybugs are attracted to plants that grow in soggy soil with high nitrogen levels.
Wash the foliage regularly with a leaf shine — this substance is made from neem oil. This will help discourage future infestations.
- Hose off the infected plants with a strong stream of water. Try your best to reduce pest numbers.
- Apply insecticidal soap, a short-lived natural pesticide, to kill the remaining insects. The soft-bodied pests will suffer from dehydration and die within hours.
- You can also treat the bugs with neem oil. It will disrupt their development and growth. Besides, neem oil has repellent properties.
- Removing mealybugs with the help pt rubbing alcohol is another way to go. Take a q-tip and pour some 70% rubbing alcohol on it. Use the q-tip to clean the stems and the foliage. Please bear in mind that mealybugs enjoy hiding in the hard-to-reach areas. You can also soak a cotton ball in the 70% rubbing alcohol. Use it to wipe the affected leaves and the stem. Don't forget about the undersides of the leaves – the tiny insects may be there.
- As a measure of last resort only, you may turn to pesticides.
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