Guide: How to Get Rid of Mealybugs on Birds of Paradise
What are mealybugs?
Mealybugs, also known as Pseudococcidae, are a common pest that attacks household plants. Mealybugs appear as small round dots that are fuzzy. These insects harm your plant by sucking the sap from them.
Distorted, stunted, or a complete lack of growth
You may notice your plant has become distorted, or its growth may have slowed down or completely halted. This is because the sap-sucking bugs drain the plant of all its nutrients. Lacking these nutrients, your Bird of paradise will be unable to thrive.
Similarly to affected growth, leaves may also be impacted by the presence of mealybugs due to the nutrients being sucked out. This is particularly true in cases where heavy infestation is present.
Fuzzy white clumps on the underside of leaves
If you notice single white dots or clusters of white dots that appear fuzzy or hairy, this is almost a sure indicator you are dealing with mealybugs.
Honeydew is emitted by mealybugs.This honeydew encourages the growth of black mold, which further harms your plant by interfering with photosynthesis.
Presence of ants
If you notice the presence of many ants, be sure to take a closer look at your plant. The ants are attracted to the sticky honeydew and will seek it out.
How to get rid of mealybugs
If you suspect mealybugs, you should immediately isolate your plant. This is because infestations can be quite aggressive and will spread fast if given the chance.
To get rid of mealybugs, you can spray your plant with a strong stream of water to knock them off. Only do this if your plant is mature. If your plant is young or very weak, then this is not a good idea as your plant may suffer harm.
For mild infestations, you can use rubbing alcohol to dissolve the bugs’ waxy shells, destroying them.
Using a cotton pad soaked in rubbing alcohol, gently scrub the mealybugs off the plant. Check the stems, beneath the leaves, and beneath flowers or unfurling leaves.
If you have a severe infestation, it is recommended you use an insecticidal soap, neem oil or horticultural oil suited towards pests, as rubbing alcohol may not be able to control an infestation that has gone rampant.
Neem oil is a favorite choice for many because not only will it take care of the mealybugs, but it also has antifungal properties too.
Always follow the instructions on the back of the product label. You may need to repeat the process several times over a period in order to eradicate the pest.
How to prevent your plant from getting mealybugs
- Regularly spray your plant with neem oil to curb any infestations before they start.
- Sanitize any equipment or tools you find with mealybugs on them immediately or discard them.
- Plant flowers that attract ladybugs and wasps. These are natural enemies of the mealybugs, and they will help control populations.
Only use nitrogen-based fertilizers sparingly as these are responsible for the greenness of ones plant. Studies have found that there is a link to frequent nitrogen fertilizer use and the presence of mealybugs.