Adult mealy bugs are about 1/16th inch long and look like miniature balls of cotton. You can usually see the insects and their eggs. Like most insects, they don't like light so look for them down inside the plant where the leaf meets the stem and on the undersides of leaves.
Mealy bugs feed by piercing the plant surface with mouths that look like hypodermic needles. As they suck out the sap, they excrete a sticky substance that coats the leaves. Called "Honeydew", this excretion first looks like honey, but soon turns to a moldy black. This coating makes it hard for the plant to breathe and attracts ants.
Mealy bugs live in groups and their cotton-like protective sheild makes them easy to spot.
Mealy bugs live for six weeks to two months. Because the adults are on the move most of their lives, they can cover a lot of plants in their short lives. Eggs hatch in 5-10 days, or wait longer until conditions are right.
Mealy Bugs don't limit themselves to just plants. They also lay eggs on benches, grow pots, and any other object close by.
Mealy bugs at the bottom of a decorative container
Mealy bugs on a plant stand
Mealy bugs are protected with a cotton-like shield that that must be penetrated to effectively control them. Simply spraying the plant won't dislodge the cotton-like shield.
Neem Oil is an effective control for mealy bugs. Mix 1 TBLS of Neem Oil in 1 quart of water in sprayer. Add a drop of dish soap to help the Neem Oil mix with water. Shake thoroughly.
Neem is effective for 12 hours after mixing.
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