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I know i shouldn't use the "H" word but, i Can't help it.

8 years ago

MEALY BUGS I HATE YOU!!!

I haven't been able to do my vigilant gardening in a few weeks and when I checked on my plants yesterday they were all fine. Except for...my plantlets that I have propagating. I found the cottony evidence of you know what.

I can't spray the plantlets or dab them with alcohol for fear of damaging the newly formed roots, so what can I possibly do? - So darn frustrating.

Comments (87)

  • 8 years ago

    Hey, if the bug phobia girl (me) is jumping for joy (and some horror) over a praying mantis, then you can get a bug that kills the bug that is bugging you. Or do you want a BBQ lighter, too? :-D

  • 8 years ago

    Did you know you can buy praying mantis egg cases from Home Depot in the US? Amazing!! Apparently each egg can contain ~200 or so baby mantids, which is pretty wild.

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  • 8 years ago

    Mayo- I knew you could buy them, but not at home depot. My local nursery has lady bugs during the spring season.

    Grace- I don't mind most bugs, I just don't like the ones that damage my plants. I don't like roaches and waterbugs..when I see them something inside me wants to kill them. I just loathe them for some reason. Maybe its because I associate them with filth. Maggots would be the 3rd and the 4th mosquitoes.

  • 8 years ago

    Neil, what do you do about finding a mealy on one of your plants in a basket? I just found a couple on my jade and I am very reluctant to uproot it or any others since they are all kind of in a constant state of recovering from my terrible gardening... I sprayed a mist of 50/50 alcohol over all of them and got rid of the individuals that I found. Also what are early signs of mealy damage?

  • 8 years ago

    Maggots are awesome because they always eat what they are supposed to. Unlike caterpillars...who would rather eat my kale.

  • 8 years ago

    And_Now_Its_en2--- Most would recommend dabbing some alcohol on it with a q-tip. Established plants can usually tolerate the type of handling which is necessary for the treatment of mealy bugs. - If you find they are on one of your plants in the basket, chances are that they are most likely within the soil as well and ready to invade the other plants.

    As troublesome as it can be at times re-planting of the entire container would be the best bet.

    This part is for prevention which is always easier to deal with:

    Make sure to clean and use clean gardening tools at all times.

    Medium: Start with the best mix dry gritty mix or some soil. Whichever I use..i make sure to put in the microwave for at least 2mins on the high setting. I nuke several large batches at a time if necessary. It should kill any parasites living within.

    I would spray the plants or dunk them quickly in a solution of mild dish soap and the isopropyl alcohol and rinse them off in room temperature water.

    When I prep my soil I give it a couple of squirts of "7 insecticide" I mix that in whatever mix i'm using. Hopefully it will deter any insect from wanting to lay eggs in the soil.

    After the soil prep is done and the plants have dried off a bit from their bath, I re-plant them.

    Make sure the container for planting is cleaned with hot soapy water.

    I do not water the plants for a day or two.

    When I do water, I use a systemic insecticide called "Bayer Tree & Shrub." It was recommended to me by a fellow forum member earlier this year and has worked well for my situation. Keep in mind that many gardeners are against using this type of insecticide (systemic) because it is also harmful to beneficial insects such as bees. You will have to decide for yourself if you want to use such a product.

    For my personal situation my succulents are on a 4th level balcony so I don't get many bees anyway. The scale insect and mealy bugs have totally infested the area where i'm in and if it weren't for the use of a systemic, I don't believe I would have my plants anymore.

    Since I've used this product my established plants don't have any scale, mealybug or any other insect problem to date. All are healthy and show signs of growth *knock on wood.

    My little plantlets which don't have the protection of the systemic were now under attack. I say that to illustrate how bad the problem in my area is.

    Using the product--- I mix 2 tablespoons per gallon of water. That's it. Water your plants with it as you normally would. This treatment should last you for the year. With a severe infestation you can apply it twice a year.

    The plants absorb the systemic into their cells so that any insect trying to feed off of the plant simply dies.

    When I get new plants I give them the same treatment and wait a few weeks before I replant them if necessary (which is usually necessary.) Again I stress to you the importance of properly prepping your soil and using the cleanest gardening tools you can.

    I also spray the outside of the container with the 7 spray (really called SEVIN).

    And, as I read somewhere on the forum: "Bugs can visit but they' can't stay!'" The regimen I've been using ensures that they don't stay.

    Wait to see what other members have to say also. There are many on here who have more experience than I do and have also advised me. It's always good to have more than one persons' opinion. Whatever you decide to do. Do it quickly. Depending on where you are, scale and mealybugs can spread quite rapidly.

    Best of luck.

  • 8 years ago

    Laticuada- I don't know of a maggot's place within the eco-system or if they're beneficial in any way. What I do know is the times I've seen them gives me a wave of revulsion to the pit of my stomach. I just find them to be vile creatures. Worse than scraping nails across a blackboard.

  • 8 years ago

    The world would be a giant layer of corpses if not for maggots. They even use them for cleaning out wounds of necrotic tissue after surgeries.

  • 8 years ago

    Laticauda- I think it's great they have a purpose and play such a crucial role in nature, but you'll never convince me to "like" them.

  • 8 years ago

    I am with you Neil...I believe they are important (the maggots), but I don't want to see them.

    Neil thanked rina_Ontario,Canada 5a
  • 8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    They are kind of creepy en masse

    But chickens love em, if you see maggots, just call chook, chook. They'll come running beaks at the ready.

  • 8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Oh yeah, and I abhor the sterile substrate method.

    I LIKE having beneficial in my soil to create a nice little micro-environment. The bugs and the fungi keep the soil aerated and healthy and keep it clean of any detritus.

    *fuzzy dream sequence phase in*

    In a house not far from here and a time that is still happening, if you believe in some versions of the unified string theory, there was a young woman, about 25 years old. She tried everything she could to make her indoor plants happy. She followed all the rules given by the professionals. Sterilize that substrate! They instruct to kill everything and then put your seeds, plants whatever inside the substrate.

    All this lead to was heartache and long wispy fuzzy white fungus everytime she tried to germinate seeds, root a cutting, etc. She just didn't understand why EVERYTHING was rotting away and not rooting or sprouting or anything. It just didn't make any sense.

    Eventually that young woman moved and most of her plants were lost. A Philodendron and Monstera canes were the only thing that remained of the sterile times.

    After the young woman was quite a few years older, she decided to start a small backyard garden for some greens, fruits, vegetables (my poha berries are ripening and they are so good...I should have planted more of them). This is when she learned about the soil microbiology that takes place in a truly balanced system.

    This year she sprouted all different types of tomatoes, peppers, okra, cucumbers, squash....and it was all successful! And NO mold!

    Speaking of which, anyone know what this bug is? I thought they were mites but they only have six legs. You have to right click (or hold your finger on it if you have a touch screen) then click "view" or "open in new tab" whichever pops up for you. Then you should be able to zoom in. It's actually not too bad of a photo for how small the bug is.

    Neil thanked laticauda
  • 8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Thanks Neil that was really helpful! I'm currently using a store bought cactus/citrus mix but it seems to have more peat than I would like. Eventually I would like to find time/money to switch over to this gritty mix I keep hearing about. In the meantime, I feel like my plants are suffering from all my mishandling as it is. If I continue killing the mealies I find on the leaves, mist with 50/50, and start watering with the Bayer, do you think I can hold them off for a while from spreading to other plants or doing too much damage?

    Also I am thinking I will have to repot everything I have for the winter anyway. I was dumb and bought a hanger that has to stay on the balcony... duhhhhh. So I will work on finding the ingredients for the gritty mix until then. But I basically just uprooted all of them a couple weeks ago and they are still crying.

  • 8 years ago

    lati....

    everything in moderation :)

  • 8 years ago

    Actually, I guess the quality degraded a little when I uploaded it to houzz. Bummer.

  • 8 years ago

    Chigger?

  • 8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    That's what I thought but I don't have any chigger bites. I get a little itchy sometimes when handling the plants, but chugged bites are pretty obvious. They tortured me as a child in Carolina.

  • 8 years ago

    Red spider with amputations, then. I don't know, I googled and it looks like the larval stage of chiggers have 6 legs. Maybe they don't bite at that stage?

    I wouldn't know a grasshopper from a cricket most of the time LOL. They jump, they're gross and I run. End of story.

  • 8 years ago

    What is the "h word", anyway? Harry?

    Neil thanked hoovb zone 9 sunset 23
  • 8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Did you read the first post?

    Aaand for everybody else that's been paying attention:

    Bugger, I still can't paste from my clipboard.

    Neil thanked laticauda
  • 8 years ago

    Neil, I believe we are in the same soup..

    I noticed this unique white growth on the exposed root on one of my propagated plantlets, out comes my plant tweezers.

    I tried nudging it a little with the tip, and to my horror, the damn thing MOVED!

    I clipped it out, and BAM. mealybug.. It's so sad..

    Here's a closeup, the legs were wiggling..

    I hope it's an isolated plant.. it's being quarantined now. I'm using imidacloprid systemic. I hope the plant's young roots won't get burnt and survive the chemical intervention.

  • 8 years ago

    Harry- H = hate

  • 8 years ago

    Bernard- the systemic Andy suggested to me has that chemical in it. April is when I applied it to all my ESTABLISHED plants. So far so good...no insects of any kind on them. I haven't heard anything on what to do for plantlets that have very little or no roots at all.

    The plantlets that don't have roots yet would probably not benefit from a systemic as they have nothing to absorb it into their cells yet.

    I did what others suggested (above). I dunked all the leaves i'm propagating in room temp soulution consisting of water, a capful of dish detergent and a capful of 70% isopropyl alcohol.

    I don't know at this point if that "burned" them or not or has "shocked" them into not growing anymore. As forum members also stated "not doing anything" would not be good either.

    It has been a week now and some that have started to develop root hairs no longer have them. I suspect they have been damaged from the cleansing or have been eaten. This has now turned into a waiting game.

    Please share what you are going to do next so we can all benefit from your experience.

    I hope your other plants are doing well and have recovered?

  • 8 years ago

    Update on these guys?

  • 8 years ago

    Laticauda- Certainly, thanks for checking....the update is a good one! all of the little plantlets have survived the alcohol bath and are doing nicely. They've even gotten a little bigger.

    Thanks everyone for the advice.

  • 8 years ago

    Yay! Sometimes doing nothing is doing something and I'm glad you chose to do something ELSE!

  • 8 years ago

    I have to join in on the hate, just found THREE mealybug nests on my haworthia. I keep the haworthia away from the other plants anyway so they should be ok but everything will be getting the once over tomorrow.

    I guess what I thought was a fungus gnat problem was actually a male mealybug problem...

  • 8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    xxNxexexdxx NEEM oil worked really well on my haworthias, I only did one application of it, I don't think it had become fully infested when I got it from the greenhouse. I believe it got the eggs from the greenhouse.

  • 8 years ago

    wanted to say NEEM oil?

  • 8 years ago

    Laticauda- Is that different from Neem oil?

  • 8 years ago

    Thank you Rina and Neil.

    My phone doesn't know how to horticulture, so sometimes I guess it thinks it knows better than I do.

  • 8 years ago

    @Bryce(NE Ohio/6)

    Since you said that, I looked them up. I think I may have seen a few of those around, but I thought I was seeing adult thrips.

    Their spindly little bodies and clear wings that hang off the body. How does one tell the difference? I've tried looking at them up close to try to get an ID, but once they are adequately captured, the body is normally too far destroyed for forensic analysis.

  • 8 years ago

    small black flying = bad

    small black flying things had been annoying my string of pearls and my dragon fruit (both in organic soil) and my strawberry seedlings. the pearls and the strawberries went outside and the dragon fruit got a soil change. you should've seen the fly traps I had out, it was horrible.

    this is the first I've seen pests on plant that's in inorganic soil. Seems like I caught it early though. I had three clumps of haworthia in one pot and only one of the clumps had nests or any of the crawling bugs.

  • 8 years ago

    I've had problems with fungus gnats before. Rina suggested I top dress the soil with some sand, so I did. I even did it with my indoor houseplants and it worked. No more fungus gnats!

  • 8 years ago

    Top dressing for me works too, although I didn't use sand. The finer gravels/rock seems more effective than standard grit.

    I also used two doses of BT for my worst cacti and everything was under control. =)

  • 8 years ago

    Neil - I think it was a grit I suggested for top dressing (or very coarse sand-but I don't use sand).

    I do use grit of many sizes for top-dressing (from smallest chicken grit #1 to turkey sized #3), or some pebbles and rocks. It helps to anchor plants; it helps to keep perlite from floating away; it provides dry top if the plant's leaves are touching it (if they grow very low on the stalk); gnats don't like that kind of surface - they prefer moist and more organic (food!) environment; it adds some weight to pots to keep them more steady. Of course, one has to like the look...many other things could be used, from shells to crystals to glass - or nothing :)

    To decrease fungus gnats or perhaps even to eliminate, their favored conditions should be eliminated or at least minimized. If one uses organics (bark, loam and similar) in their mix, it helps to 'cover' top of soil with something rough (like grit). And make sure there is no decomposing leaves left around, and any water sitting in saucers. In that case, using BT and traps helps too.

  • 8 years ago

    Yeah, all my big pieces of bark and perlite float away (big and small perlite alike).

  • 8 years ago

    what I ended up doing was using granulated BT as a top dressing on my string of pearls, fungus gnats really seem to like that plant. it's doing better outside anyway.

    I was using soil that had compost (aka half decomposed leaves and bark) which was probably heaven for the fungus gnats. the dragon fruit came out unscathed and I switched it to a coco coir/perlite/worm casting mix. but I think the strawberry seedlings are a lost cause.

    and now back on topic, I think my haworthia will survive the mealy attack. it's probably for the best I had to uproot them because I was able to prune all the dead roots and sift my gritty mix better.

    are haworthia summer or winter dormant? I thought they were summer dormant but I was doing some reading today and it seems like the opposite. someone care to enlighten me? sorry for derailing the thread.

  • 8 years ago

    It's summer here and mine is growing like crazy. Maybe it depends on the species?

  • 8 years ago

    Rina - I do use a product now called horticultural sand. It is a grit I suppose it's coarse and larger grained than regular sand.

  • 8 years ago

    I think I want to experiment with some seachem biomedia....granules? They are large and extra large lol. I can't remember what the actual name was...maybe it wasn't even seachem that made them.

  • 8 years ago

    Bryce

    I was under impression they are summer dormant; few I have don't know the difference - they seem to be growing, and I had to water some since they got really dehydrated.

    Neil

    I agree, that would be suitable (large grain). I would use it even in potting mix if the grain was noticeable (maybe I would sift little of it upon using first time thru ordinary kitchen sieve, just to make sure that is large enough and that there isn't any fine sand included...)

  • 8 years ago

    Wait. What's BT?

  • 8 years ago

    Laticauda - it's Bacillus thuringiensis.

    Rina - I agree that Haworthia are supposed to be summer dormant, but many appear to be opportunistic growers. So depending on zone, they may not be very dormant at all.

  • 8 years ago

    I used some expired legume starter powder and that solved my fungus (white fuzzy kind that happens when you use peat and other sterilized ingredients) problem. I can't remember what the specific stuff was called.

  • 8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    inoculant...

    legume inoculant contain Rhizobium bacteria - nitrogen fixing bacteria, without it the nitrogen producing nodules won't form on the roots of legumes...they also stimulate plant hormone production, and can induce resistance to some diseases.

  • 8 years ago

    Yep. Not even sure if it actually did anything, but I haven't seen any white fuzzy since I sprinkled that stuff on there.

  • 8 years ago

    Neil, this is my 3rd batch of succulent tray that are propagated from leaves cuttings here and there, and it had to be lucky number 3 that is infected with mealies!!

    I must admit, my seedling trays don't get much attention but the occasional watering. Then again, these critters have some amazingly impenetrable life cycle and are extremely smart at hiding their eggs on parts you would never believe. Perhaps they were on a few new leaves that I added to the tray that begun the infestation.

    So I discovered them when I was digging up some plantlets the other day for Deva the other day, the plantlets I sent out looked fine, it's only the remaining ones, especially the E. Pvn that are particularly susceptible.

    These poor baby seedlings, to be honest, I panicked a little the moment I saw white fuzz on one leaf. Ironically, I became more calm as soon as I knew the infestation had already reached all the other plants.

    I took heed and remembered Neil posting about his plantlets being infected and survived. So I followed the soap bath (I used a capful of Imidacloprid this instead) followed by a water bath after.




  • 8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    After the bath, a couple shriveled, clearly not liking it. But it's definitely satisfying to see white dots floating in the water.

    I left them out to dry and started to pick more stubborn bugs from some of my plants. Most of them were motionless, so I assumed the soap bath did the trick. So I left the rest alone.

    Nuked all the soil of new pots with boiling water, followed by a 4 minute cook off in the microwave.

    I set them off to dry for a few days, and I tried to pot them up last night.

    And guess what? The mealies SURVIVE!!

    Except for those that I had picked on, the rest still had tiny bugs crawling in them. You can call them eggs, larvae whatever, I got fed up. Took out my tub of rubbing Alcohol dunk half a containerful with more dish soap, and yanked everything into the concoction.

    Rinsed them into another tub of water, and set them off to dry again. This time I inspected every single one. Miraculously, no white stuff or survivors. I'm guessing it worked.

    The poor remaining plantlets all don't look good. I guess only time will tell if these all can be saved. Will continue to update...

    Oh, and I also found infestations on my new jades too, thankfully I caught the spread and am now containing it, or at least am trying to..

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