Mealy Bug help!

jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)November 19, 2009


I know... the million $$ question! LOL!

I discovered yesterday one of my Stapeliads has mealy bugs in the soil. I have never seen a bug on the plant.

I've been looking in old posts but haven't found what this is...the scaring listed below.

This plant started to get brown patches down the sides of the stems. at first I thought it had rubbed on something and left a scar. But the kept getting worse.. never thought bugs.. :( I scraped away a few of the areas last night, but did not find a bug. So what does the scaring mean? Is it due to root damage? Do I need to toss these stems? It's a huge plant.

a few stems started to droop and get real soft.. so yesterday I checked the soil. .. SURE ENOUGH! they were there.

I've tossed the old soil... power sprayed the roots.. (thank god it's still warm here, did it at 8pm.. LOL)

Rinsed them in alcohol... and inspected close. now they are drying a bit. also scrubbed pot!

I'm not big on chemicals... so am looking into some other choices for control.

Norma~~ are you here?

You suggested in an old post to ues Diotomaciious Earth. I am going to try and find some today.

How much would you add to say a 4" pot???

I have some errands to run, but will try and post a pic of it later to show the scars.

Thanks everyone!


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I don't know what those scars are but my plant has had them for years. I thought it was from scale. The plant looks icky but doesn't seem bothered and blooms like crazy. Mealy bugs on the other hand! I'm trying a light oil on some hibiscus that are infested but have waiting on it to get a bit cooler so it doesn't burn the plant.
Good luck. I'm anxious to see what Norma says about the scarring.
Tally HO!

    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 12:09PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

I'm anxioius to see what she says too! Where is she?? LOL!

My plant was doing pretty good. Blooms and a huge bud I hope to save! It was actually 3 plants in one pot, and the one that drooped has the worst of the scaring.

I went to lowes and Home Depot today and the only Diotomaciious Earth they had was full of pesticides! It said on the bag to kill roaches and ants and other bugs! Had some sort of bait in it. So I passed on that and will keep looking!

Here are a few pics of the scaring.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 5:41PM
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The best treatment for mealies is a chemical called Imidacloprid, but it is expensive, and it is certainly not natural.

Mealies are easily killed with soap, oil or alcohol. For a minor infestation, you can pick them away with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol. For a bigger problem, spraying with horticultural oil or a mix of canola + ivory soap is also quite effective.

Whatever means you use, it is important to follow up every few days for a couple of weeks. Non-mobile adults are easy to spot and kill, but the baby "crawlers" and the eggs are not.

Root mealies are more difficult to treat. They like to hide under pot rims and the bottoms of pots as well. They will also die easily from alcohol or soap but it is difficult to get those things into the soil. You can also drown them - submerge an entire pot up to its rim in some soapy water for 10 minutes. But, if you have many plants that are infected, or very large pots, or if your plant cannot tolerate a soaking this time of year, then obviously this is impractical.

In my opinion, mealies are a major red flag. Culturally, something is very wrong. Healthy plants should not become affected. Mealies like to suck plant juices - thirsty plants have tastier "juice" because the solute concentration is higher. Mealies will favor dehydrated plants. This could mean your plants are either not watered enough, or the soil mix is poor resulting in root dessication and an inability to uptake water.

Prevention is more important that treatment. If you don't figure out what caused the problem, it is likely to return.


    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 8:10PM
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Jojo this has been responded to by others, so I'll hold off. Norma 1/2 tsp. it will last 5 years in the soil. be sure you get the agrig. form, not the kind that is used in swimming pools. Thijs is not a pesticide that I recommended. Remember the old leaves are usless now they are old, let them produce new young shoots, and toss out the old pieces. They did their job. Norma

    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 8:18PM
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Jo-Jo, I am pesticide free in my garden. I am trying to stay that way except for emergency's. The less I use the healthier it is for me. Did I answer your question? If I don't responds there is a reason, you may contact me privately, they already removed one of my post. I don't know what I did wrong I just responded to a question. Norma

    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 9:07PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Hi Friends,
Thank you!

X~~ This plant was in it's original soil still. It looked like regular potting soil to me. :( I got it about 2 months ago, as the first of starting my "collection" and succulents were new to me.

It came from a local grower and member of our Botanical Gardens. I'm a little surprised at the soil they used considering.

I have learned so much from this group and am on the hunt for additives this weekend!!!

I am going to go through and repot everything!

Thank you for your suggestions!

I still have a question though.... Was/is the scaring due to the mealy bugs? I never saw any on the plant.

~~Norma~~Thank you! I will check with feed stores tomorrow. I took the post I had read from you as a natural form. I was real upset I didn't find it today.

I figured the wilted leaves are toast. Hope to save the rest.

Thanks for everything!

    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 9:11PM
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The scarring may or may not be a direct result of mealies, it's hard to tell. Plants respond differently to sickness so a diagnosis is difficult.

Usually new growth is most susceptible to damage so when you see problems develop at the growth points, it's a sign that something is amiss. When a disease or pest continues to go untreated, the plant will reach a point of no return and will ultimately perish.

Keep whatever healthy stem segments you have of your Stapeliad and throw out the rest. Maintain the plant on the dry side until the spring; away from heat, strong sun and cold. In the spring when the weather warms up and the days get longer, it will quickly re-root and grow nicely for you assuming you give it the right conditions.


    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 10:10PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

I was planning on bringing my Staps. into the house for the winter. A unheated room, but with no door~ so it gets a little heat from rest of house, and has a small east window and large south. Will that be good for them.? I'm thinking it would.

I have all my seedlings and cuttings in there now and they are doing great! It's a bright room.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 10:15PM
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I too also had many problems with root mealies in Staps, but my quarantine/inspection process was sometimes like a sieve, i.e. it didn't stop much.

All of these suggestions are good, but for a non-insecticidal approach, I'd use DE in your Stap soil mix - root mealies can't live in that kind of soil with the proper amount of the right kind of DE in it.

And as long as the room stays above 40F (preferably 50F) your plants should be fine while there.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 11:34AM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

I found Dry Stall/pumice today! WOOOO HOOOO!!! Happy dance! LOL! 40lb bag.. which I need to go get out of car. :)

I haven't found the DE yet. Need to call a few more places. I saw an old post where I can get it online if I need to.

I will find it! I do want to go with an all natural way as much as possible!

My son helps with all these plants. and I have a very nosy cat! I do alot of my repotting and work inside. And what sits outside has sparrows and finch's poking around.

So, now have tons to repot and get going with better drainage.

Can/should the DE be used in all pots and plants ?? I'm thinking it would be good preventive to use it in all.

Thanks for everything.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 5:55PM
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My stap has never had mealy bugs so I know it's not the cause. I don't use any pesticides and bugs will always be a problem. The hibiscus is healthy, blooms like crazy, has no issues with watering/dehydration. The bugs in my yard seem to favor certain plants or areas and stick to those spots. The angels attract snails and mites, whitefly are in the front bed but only one spot on the far east side. I hate mealy bugs and they will attack healthy plants. I had something growing before Ike that always seemed to be covered with them. It drowned so I gues they just moved to this one hibiscus.
Good luck fighting yours. If I ever find out what this scarring is I'll let you know. Some of the branches are entirely covered.
Tally HO!

    Bookmark   November 21, 2009 at 10:50AM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Thank you for sharing your info!

My plant wilted bad when I repotted it. But today it is perking up and the bud I was hoping to be able to keep just bloomed today! :)

Was happy to see that big red stinky flower! LOL!!!

    Bookmark   November 24, 2009 at 9:08PM
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Jo Jo this is a reply to your question, I have been ridiculed by people here so must be careful what I say. Jojo you may email me privately.
I am going to say it again, and stick my chin out.
I have used diatomaceous earth about 1/2 tsp per small 4" square pot, dont sprinkle on top, the mealies arn't there. I just mix it into a batch of soil, and mix it well. If you water regularly you won't get mealies. They like dried up roots, they do not like moisture.
D. earth cuts them, and they will not X it. Now all of you who are laughing, don't come to me when you geting mealies in your pots. You can't find this in feed stores, it is a horticultural product. I think most nurseries will have it even in the eastern states. soapy water is a fix for the leaves, or an alcohol spray 50 -50 don't use so much that it will burn the plants and wait five minutes, then water off, so spray before you plan to water. I have used 409 in my Hoya House, it stopped them cold ants have never returned there. I have used left over Vodka diluted of course. I have used Windex it works, diluted. Soap and Water with a little oil is the safest, 'Safer's Soap' for the top of succulents and on ants, but not on cactus. Neem oil, for white fly, top and bottom of every leaf, they never returned for the past 8 years. That was my job at the Huntington one week. Some one had to do it. I just wonder how many more house hold products the rest of you can come up with? I'm not going to proof this and you can laugh all you want. Sorry, Jo Jo this is for you. I have a stymetic that can be used as well, but I don't like to do it. It goes in through our water system straight into the ocean. It kills all the fish that used to be in the Los Angeles River on the way down to the sea. Norma

    Bookmark   November 24, 2009 at 10:23PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Hi Norma!
Thank you for this info.
I am still trying to find the D. Earth. I did find a online source if I dont find it here.
I will print and keep all the suggestions. I want/need a all natural approach!
I have a whole cabinet in my kitchen of "household" items for the garden, all suggestions from Jerry Baker. Even Vodka.. :)
I will need to get on the phone today and call around.

Can the D. Earth be used in all my pots for all my plants.
Aloes, Hawths, and an assotment of others.?

Has anyone ever noticed it says right on the bag of Dry Stall it's good for cactus and succulents?
I was surprised to see that. I just figured someone growing all these plants stumbled onto a good source of pumice. LOL!

    Bookmark   November 25, 2009 at 9:55AM
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Diatoms are harmless to plants, and supposedly they are effective. I have never tried them myself.

I think the reason that so many chemicals work (alcohol, soap, windex, oils, etc.) is because mealies are inherently weak and are easily killed by anything that will disrupt their soft bodies.

But mealies are also very good at hiding so they are quite evasive and are difficult to eradicate by topical methods.

In my opinion, prevention is way more important than treatment.


    Bookmark   November 25, 2009 at 7:08PM
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This reminds me of a horrible thing I did in college many years ago. My girlfriend had some kind of succulent, I think it was a portulacaria, that got infested by the non-subterranean mealies. I knew a little about plants, so she asked my advise. I told her to light a cigarette and wave it around the plant so the bugs would get a good dose of the smoke. A couple of days later the plant had lost all of its leaves. A couple days after that, my girlfriend dumped me. The memory haunts me still.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2009 at 9:02PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Hi X~
I totally agree prevention is important.

I garden all year round and always have herbs everywhere and companion plants for prventive measures.

Alot of herbs keep critters at bay due to the odors, so I am planning on potting some up and setting all around my succulents.. can't hurt and I can always use the herbs.. :)

I see the D. Earth as a preventive and slight cure..

I am keeping this entire thread and taking all advice.

You all have been at this much longer than I, and I value your thoughts!


    Bookmark   November 26, 2009 at 2:55PM
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Hi. Echeverias and Aeoniums are the plants that mostly seem to attract mealybugs in our nursery.Other than the twice-a-year spraying with 'Confidor' (Imidaclopride/Bayer),spraying with a mixture of methylated spirits and brown soap (the jelly type,used on tiled floors)is useful in the short term. T.
PS. If at the same time you play at full blast the song 'Highway to Hell' by AC/DC, it seems to work even better...

    Bookmark   November 26, 2009 at 4:27PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

ROFL! tunilla,
Thanks for the advice! Gosh, havent' heard that song in years, just thinking of it makes me feel!

But it's worth a shot.. :)


    Bookmark   November 26, 2009 at 9:53PM
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