How to Get Rid of Mealy Bugs (aka Woolly Aphids) on your Plants

Once mealy bugs or woolly aphids invade a plant or garden, it's important to start treating the affected plants and get rid of the mealy bugs as soon as possible. Left untreated, a colony of mealy bugs can destroy a plant or garden. The techniques used to get rid of the mealy bugs range from various poisons to several eco-friendly home remedies. Whichever you choose, be vigilant until you're sure every pest has been killed.

Cotton Mealy bugs, Homoptera: Pseudococcidae
credit: yogesh_more/iStock/GettyImages

Step 1

Combine dimethoate with water, according to the directions on the package. Dimethoate can be purchased at most garden centers. Due to the waxy outer covering that mealy bugs have, it will take several treatments to get rid of the problem and kill all of them.

Step 2

Mix dimethoate with water and drench the soil several times over the course of a few weeks until the problem is gone if you are dealing with mealy bugs that have infested a plant root system. If your plant is in a pot, put the potted plant in to a bucket large enough to contain the pot and then fill the bucket with a mixture of water and dimethoate. Leave soaking for at least an hour.

Step 3

Apply an insecticide that contains malathion to each individual mealy bug to kill them, using a child's paint brush. This will allow you to get rid of the problem without burning or otherwise damaging your plants. This is especially helpful when you have mealy bugs on your cactus or other succulent plants.

Step 4

Mix 1 tbsp. of dishsoap with 1 pint of warm water. Use a spray bottle to apply the mixture while the water is still warm. The soap will help penetrate the waxy coating and kill the mealy bugs. Some mealy bugs may be underground when you treat and kill the first batch of bugs, so it's important to retreat about one week after the first treatment.

Step 5

Mix jalapeno juice, hot sauce, garlic extract and/or cayenne pepper with hot water in a spray bottle. Parasites that infest plants in your garden can often be eradicated with simple pepper juices from your home.

Step 6

Mix straight rubbing alcohol with 1/2 tsp. of dish soap. Apply the mixture to the plant. The dish soap, again, works to break down the waxy coating, and the rubbing alcohol will dehydrate the mealy bugs, killing them.