Before buying a plant (especially a succulent or cacti, as there seem to be a lot of root mealybug-infested succulents on the market these days!

If you have the 1st, then the later will make an appearance at some time.

I recommend washing the inside rim of the pot after removing the layer of soil using soapy water and/or a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol to be sure to kill any bugs that are hiding there. That’s a sure sign an infestation is in progress. If you are using paper towels, place used towels in a plastic sack and discard. Or that a few egg sacs haven’t survived? Mealybugs can also come from the fresh produce from the store.

Root mealybugs feed by piercing a tiny hole in the plant’s root with their buccal parts and suck up the sap that flows out. How To Get Rid Of Mealybugs In Soil. I’m more familiar with and have seen these pests infesting houseplants more than plants in the landscape. Look closer (you may have to get a magnifying glass) & you’ll see them moving slowly or if not, legs will be evident. Root mealybugs are much harder to detect because they’re in the soil and you don’t see them unless you take the plant out of the pot. Next, think seriously about tossing the plant: that remains the easiest and most effective treatment. “The flowers from diverse vegetation also feed parasitoid wasps, which in turn can control the mealybug population, and they may support healthier soil microbiota to protect the grasses.”. Endophytic fungi — a type of fungus within the plant that prevents feeding or kills mealybugs in temperate grasses — provide a possible avenue to control the insects.

“Insecticides aren’t always the answer, though — they’re expensive, and can disrupt beneficial insects like parasitoid wasps, which we need to help kill the pest,” said Hauxwell.

Let the plant dry out as much as possible. Remove mealybugs with a cloth or paper towel, making sure that you squish them instead of just displacing them. Unlike scale insects (another close cousin) that settle down when they reach adulthood, never to move again, root mealybugs remain mobile all their life.

Repot the plant in fresh potting soil with a sprinkling of diatomaceous earth mixed in. The pot will have traces of them as well, in the form of small bluish-white spots on the inner wall. If the clients were really complaining about the fungus gnats, we got right to the drench but I recommend the drying part 1st because the plant is probably already wet at this point. Another way to prevent the mealy bug attack is to use worm casting, these are manure from earthworm. If the temperature drops too much, some scale insects will survive; if it becomes too hot, that can kill the roots.

However, in tropical and subtropical climates, they can attack outdoor plants as well. They rarely do any damage to an established or large plant. Root Mealybugs are very hard to spot. The eggs hatch into crawlers, tiny nymphs essentially  identical to the mother except for their smaller size. Now soak the roots that remain in a diluted solution of the insecticide of your choice for 15 minutes. I researched this a bit to see if anyone else had done this so I could get more exacting temps. The adults, after hatching in the soil, fly around and you can see them. Please share! Root mealybugs. Nematodes. The particular mealybug causing so much trouble is Heliococcus summervillei, an insect in the Pseudococcidae family. Even when you unpot an infected plant to examine its root system, mealybugs are not that easy to spot, especially when the potting mix contains perlite (particles of expanded white rock), because the two are easily confused. White markings with a bluish tinge to them show this pot is hosting soil mealybugs. Only in the most advanced cases can you actually see root mealies above the soil line, as they sometimes congregate at the very base of the plant when the root system is completely infested. Besides root mealies themselves, you’ll discover they are rather messy insects and leave clusters of pure white cottony wax here and there, white egg sacs and also powdery white wax on roots.

The marks on the pots, in fact, are often what give their presence away. Give the pot a good scouring too. Keep your plants as healthy as possible and they’ll be better able to survive any infestations. That just goes to show that you haven’t yet had to deal with its underground cousin, the root mealybug (Rhizoecus spp. White markings with a bluish tinge to them show this pot is hosting soil mealybugs. These small, sucking pests grow on and around the affected plants, feeding on sap. The pictures of fungus gnats that you see are all magnified which is why I don’t have one taken by me. Make sure you inspect the root ball before you buy a plant. “What’s more, adult mealybugs don’t appear to feed much, and they spend winter in the soil, which limits the window for effective insecticide application.”. Beyond pesticides, Hauxwell’s team are investigating sites that aren’t affected by dieback to identify any protective factors that may exist in the environment. Another possibility is to unpot the plant, thoroughly rinsing the roots to remove all soil. You want the water to be in between 110 – 120 degrees F. Basically you want it hot enough to kill the critters and their eggs but not so hot that it harms the roots. Some species, like the one above, lack eyes. Some species have no eyes (you may know those under the name blind mealybugs) and in fact, it’s hard to tell the front from the back! First, isolate the infested plant… and check immediately any other plant nearby. “The damage that mealybugs cause to a plant can’t come from feeding on it alone — it takes very few mealybugs to cause damage, and they’re so small the plant wouldn’t even notice the loss of sap from feeding,” said Hauxwell. In case there’s any of them or their eggs left on, this’ll get it. Mosquito dunks in granular form sprinkled on the surface of the soil & watered in. If you’re putting the plant back in the same pot, make sure to soak the pot in boiling hot water to get any root mealybugs off which might be hanging out on the sides or the bottom. Adult fungus gnats are short lived. A special type of BT (called Bti) used as a drench. The larvae, if left untreated, can damage a young or small plant. Hauxwell’s team have obtained an emergency permit with MLA for the systemic insecticide Spirotetramat, which reduced mealybug numbers and led to grass recovery in field trials. While you’re at it, prune off any dead roots. Mix well and water the plant, making sure to thoroughly drench all parts of the soil. Under the MLA program, the team are working with seed companies and producers of biocontrols, as well as with experts at the University of Queensland, CSIRO and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, to share information and improve programs to detect, prevent and treat pasture dieback. These mealybugs do get around! Conclusion. How do I get rid of mealybugs in the soil? Immediately wash out rags. Mix up a solution of 1 part pure hydrogen peroxide (with no additives) to 4-5 parts water. “We’ve found these mealybugs at every site at which dieback is active, and we’ve worked with taxonomy experts at Biosecurity Queensland to confirm their identity. Please follow the link we've just sent you to activate the subscription. The exact mechanism by which mealybugs kill grasses is still to be discovered, but there are several clues that Hauxwell is following. “Pathogens such as fungi or viruses may be dormant within the plant or soil, but once the mealybug is present they can become more active, exacerbating the damage.”. Sometimes there might be a few lurking near the surface but they like to hang out down below feeding on the roots. The marks on the pots, in fact, are often what give their presence away. As the mealybug and pasture dieback spread into northern New South Wales, Hauxwell’s team continues their investigation. Here you see the results of a root mealybug infestation: a few adults, lots of dead white skin, egg sacs and “mealybug powder”.