Ok folks, it’s time for another post about pest management.
At one time or another, one or more of your houseplants may become infested with some kind of insect or bacterial pest. These infestations can happen quickly, or slowly over time, but it is always important to treat them as soon as you catch them in order to save your plants.
Some types of insects, like fungus gnats, may infest your plants and never actually kill them (you’ll just have to deal with annoying fungus gnats flying around your house), though it is still advisable to get rid of them. Other pests, like mealybugs, will definitely kill your plant, and potentially spread to other plants if the infested plant is not quarantined.
I’ve had a lot of experience with mealybugs. They will show up on a variety of different houseplant species, most notably the Prayer plant (I love Prayer plants, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a Prayer plant that did not have mealybugs at one time or another. Mealys usually make their homes in the leaf nodes, which makes it difficult to see them until your plant is so terribly infested it is too late.
I found this guy crawling around on a leaf on my new Pothos plant recently, which lead to a full inspection of the plant, and a thorough cleaning. This is also on of the biggest mealybugs I’ve seen on a houseplant, so I decided to photograph it so that you all could see what this disgusting enemy of houseplants looks like. (Zoom in on the pictures for a closer look).
They’re gross, I know.
The one good thing about having mealybugs as opposed to another type of insect pest like scale, for example, is that they are easy to treat: you only need rubbing alcohol and Q-tips. You can also use insect cleaning soap, which is a good thing to have around for pest management purposes. If you are thorough, it is possible to completely eraticate a mealybug infestation from your houseplant. Let me also clarify that “thorough” could take a long time. Check both sides of every leaf, every node, and every inch of stem. Also check the surface of the soil. Then repeat.
In the picture above, you can see a huge mealybug on the leaf, and a slightly smaller one making his way up from the node.
Fortunately in my latest case, this guy gave away his colony rather early and I was able to send him and his brethren to Valhalla. Two days later I checked the plant again and found one more mealybug crawling around that I had missed. I will probably continue inspecting this plant until I haven’t seen a bug on it for weeks. Hey, if you are a horticulturalist, consider it a labor of love.
Thanks for reading plant people!