Attack of mealy bugs in greenhouse

medic31(z7b West TX)October 26, 2007

I don't know if this is the right place to post this, but...

I had to be away for an extended length of time ~ 2 months due to a family illness and death and I came home to find every plant in my greenhouse is covered in mealy bugs. Is there anything I can do, or do I just remove everything and start over? I'm just sick and I don't know what to do. I have angel trumpets, datura, night-blooming jasmine and lots of other tropical plants. Any help anyone can provide would be welcome.

Thanks in advance.

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jbest123(Zone 5 PA)

Every fall before winter and after I put all my plants in the GH, I set off one Ortho Indoor Insect Fogger. It kills all insects in the GH and does not harm the plants. John

    Bookmark   October 26, 2007 at 8:57PM
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greenhouser(Middle TN Zone 6)


You can try the fogger Jbest recommended and then spray them heavily with Ortho's Systemic Bug killer. The plants absorb it and the entire plant becomes toxic to the pests. In a bad infestation you may want to cover the soil and try dunking them in a soapy water bath and rinse first. Or spray them with a mix of 1/2 and 1/2 rubbing alcohol and water. Use the systemic every other day for a week. You may be able to save the plants.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2007 at 2:46AM
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stressbaby(z6 MO)


See DG for complete answer. I would still suggest blast-spray initially to remove the majority of the pests. Ortho Systemic is acephate, and it will work well as a F/U spray for those plants which aren't edibles.


    Bookmark   October 27, 2007 at 9:49AM
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jspece(Josh - z4 IA)

"Use the systemic every other day for a week."

That sounds like over kill...I doubt the product instructions recommend this. Systemic insecticides usually remain active in the plant for several weeks. Applying them this frequently is not necessary.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2007 at 9:05PM
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stressbaby(z6 MO)

I agree. The label won't recommend every other day applications. If you feel like you have to spray that often, alternate your pesticides.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2007 at 9:30PM
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greenhouser(Middle TN Zone 6)

jspece Josh

One or two sprayings did not get rid of the spider mites or the mealy bug invasion I had in my sun-room last winter. One of the workers at Lowe's told me to spray them every other day for about a week and that will do the job! I took his advice. It did work and was worth the "overkill." :)

    Bookmark   October 28, 2007 at 12:54AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

You should NEVER apply more than the label directs of pesticides, herbicides etc. It is very dangerous. More does not work better either.

Systemics have to be given time for the plant to take them up into their vascular system. They aren't contact killers. They kill the bugs when they eat the plant tissues that have absorbed them.

Mealy bugs can be killed with less toxic solutions such as rubbing alcohol and water dabbed on with a q-tip.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2007 at 1:10PM
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medic31(z7b West TX)

Thanks to everyone who responded to my post. Yesterday, I moved all plants outside and hosed them off as best as I could as well as the containers. I even moved all the benches out and hosed them off and then did the walls of the greenhouse. Moved everything back in last night. This morning revealed more bugs and those I hit with alcohol and q-tips. Went to the store this afternoon and purchased a fogger and systemic. Set the fogger this evening and will apply the systemic tomorrow. That plus super vigilance will be enough to keep it in check. Unfortunately, I'll still be away quite a bit but hopefully home often enough to apply whatever needs to be done often enough to keep them in check. Again, I appreciate everyone's response. I only lost about 10 plants out of about 50, so I guess it could have been worse.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2007 at 10:17PM
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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)

Question...when using a fogger, does it make a mess in your greenhouse? Does it get all over your glass or twin wall polycarbonate making it necessary to clean all your windows after using it?

    Bookmark   October 28, 2007 at 10:22PM
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greenhouser(Middle TN Zone 6)


I don't have the time to go over the number of plants I have with a Q-tip dipped in alcohol. They were down in between leaves and stems, in the crowns of African Violets, and the mites were on every Impatiens plant plus the Aspidistra and purple taro. I had a lot of plants in here last winter. Q-tips in alcohol may work for a handful of plants, but when it comes to a sun room full - forget it!

    Bookmark   October 29, 2007 at 1:44AM
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I attached a spray top to a bottle of alcohol and the spray has been very effective for the nooks and crannies of plants. Once sprayed with the alcohol, the bugs dies and you can rinse them off with the hose sprayer.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2007 at 4:39PM
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jspece(Josh - z4 IA)

Lowe's is the last place I would seek gardening advice.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2007 at 8:42PM
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greenhouser(Middle TN Zone 6)


In most cases I agree with you. The employees are usually clueless. But there are those they hire who do know something and this guy was right. The mealies and mites were totally wiped out. They had no chance to build immunity to the systemic as they do other insecticides. It's using the minimum and leaving a few survivors that causes immunity. A systemic would be no different than a contact insecticide in that area.

Saturating my sun room plants in alcohol to cover every plant and plant surface in there would have been impossible. It would also ruin the sills and surfaces of the furniture the plants are on. And how would I rinse them all off? I did the best I could do at the time and it worked. :)

    Bookmark   October 31, 2007 at 12:42AM
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