Fighting mealy bugs

Madison, AL

I have never kept African Violets before this summer. I raise orchids and wanted to branch out into something else for a while. But I am fighting mealy bugs on these plants - almost from the very beginning - and am concerned about spread to the orchids. I clean them off and spray, but they seem difficult to eradicate. Would it be best to just pitch them and start over?

Chicago, IL(Zone 6a)

I'm sorry to hear about your mealies!

Having had the experience to lose a large part of a plant collection myself to mealies many years ago, I hear you loud and clear!

Well, first of all: If it's soil mealies, they are VERY difficult do get rid off since they are doing their damage unnoticed and by the time the damage shows, it's often too late for the plant.

My opinion on soil mealies is: Isolate, use Marathon (or some other systemic insecticide) and get ready to toss!

Regular mealies, while pretty persistant at times, can be treated much easier because chances are that you notice them before they become a real problem and they are much easier to treat with an insecticide spray of your choice (Neem, Malathion etc.) and if you really want to make sure that you didn't miss one, you can always add a systemic insecticide to your mix.

Having said all that, the most important thing is prevention. Healthy and happy plants are much less prone to "catch" and infestation with anything.

Another important thing is to visually inspect any new arrivals for unwanted critters and then isolate the plants for a while to see if there isn't anything bad going on.

Oh, and you will have to repeat the treatment for mealies every week or two at least two or three times to make sure that you get any survivors.

P.S.: Just today, I had to spray one of my Streps because I saw a few mealies...

Poughkeepsie, NY(Zone 6a)

I just bought some Bonide systemic granuals to add to my pots. Although I only get mealies on streps and Oncidium orchids.

Chicago, IL(Zone 6a)

Mealies LOVE Streps. I have never grown an Oncidium, so I don't know about them but I could possibly imagine that their pseudobulbs have a similar texture as cacti, which also are catnip for mealies.

You should be fine with the systemic stuff but I would also go with the good, old rubbing alcohol on q-tip method and dab the mealies one by one. This will bridge the gap until the systemic kicks in.

Poughkeepsie, NY(Zone 6a)

Yes, I've been also using rubbing alcohol prior to getting the granuals.

Montgomery, AL

Great advice all around. I always use Bonide granules in the soil for gessies and AV's as a preventative. I have used the neem and isopropyl alcohol all summer on the hoyas. However, they will be coming inside soon and marathon will be the ticket for overwintering indoors.

(tish) near Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Stillwood. Please post back and let us know how your plants are doing.

When I had outbreaks of the leaf mealie bugs, I took them outside (easier and less messy to do this outdoors out of the sun) and put rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle and sprayed them good, all over especially on the underside of the leaves. I took a kleenex and dabbed the moisture out of the crown of the plant, just in case. I did this once a week for two or three weeks or until I did not see any more white puffs.

Also used the systemic dry Bonide I added to the soil. I made a hole with a pencil and poured some Bonide in and then covered with soil and watered.

Sometimes it is easier to toss a plant than treat it. But its a decision you have to make yourself.

Madison, AL

I apologize for not updating sooner - but I retired after 37 years at a local medical center on 9/30/2011. My DH took me to Hawaii for a combination business/retirement trip (mealy [mealie?] bugs had the house and the plants to themselves for 2 weeks). I was afraid there would be a population explosion of mealy bugs during our absence. Before I left I went over each plant carefully with Q tips and alcohol to get every crevice where a bug could hide. Then I took them outside and sprayed under the leaves with Natura insecticidal soap. Upon our return I found only 2 spots - one on each of 2 plants. So I am hopeful that constant vigilance will keep this problem under control. I just want to know how these insects find their way into my house in the first place - they are clever little things to suddenly appear where there were none before.

Montgomery, AL

Happy Retirement and Congratulations! You do have a DH to take you on such a nice trip to Hawaii. I'm glad to hear that you had good news on your return home. Think about adding Bonide to the soil and you can forget about the q-tips and alcohol.

Poughkeepsie, NY(Zone 6a)

Happy retirement Stillwood! I hope to retire in 1 1/2 years myself! Can't wait! HAVE FUN!

(Lynn) Omaha, NE(Zone 5a)

Have a wonderful retirement! ^_^

Madison, AL

Hello again - need more advice. I finally found some Bonide Systemic Insect Control and bought it. Then I went here and reviewed the thread. I discovered that I may have gotten the wrong thing - what I have is liquid (to be diluted). Apparently the advice on this thread was for granules to be buried in the soil of the pot, not a diluted liquid to be used by pouring into the pot). So will the liquid (diluted, of course) work or do I need to search further for the Bonide granules?

Chicago, IL(Zone 6a)

Bonide comes both as granules and liquide.

The advantage of the granules is that they simply work for a longer period of time than the liquid.

Both are essentially the same, though. Just follow the instructions on the label and you should be fine. :)

Madison, AL

Thanks, bsimpson - I will dilute this stuff and water my African Violets gently and carefully after first inspecting for any visible mealy bugs. Thanks, again. I will also be careful - all these chemicals disturb me.

Chicago, IL(Zone 6a)

I know, right? I'm not the biggest fan of using those "Chemical Weapons" either...

However, when it comes to scale, mites and mealies, it's sometimes better to use the harsher stuff and kill off a few pests before they even have a chance to turn into an infestation that may kill half of your collection...

(tish) near Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Plants on and off will have problems, it just happens. When you have a lot of plants, something has to be done before all the plants are infected. Before I found Bonide and Marathon, I found tablets in a package at Lowes or maybe it was Home Depot. They were on a blister package hanging in the insecticide isle. You push them under the soil. I thought they were a little pricey, but they did work.

I sent you a D-mail.


Kittrell, NC(Zone 7b)

Hey Stillwood!! You live about 10 minutes from me!! Small world Huh?


Madison, AL

Yes, meag848 - small world. We are out in the woods near Wilton enjoying the fall weather and crisp temperatures. Kittrell is just a hop, skip, and jump away. Merry Christmas!

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