Things You'll Need
Neem oil or pesticide
Mealybugs often leave palm owners wondering if their plants became covered in cotton. Mealybugs resemble the white, fluffy stuff and use their piercing mouth parts to suck fluids from the plant. They also tend to nest in deep crotches of plants, often making them difficult to reach and treat. Mealybugs commonly infect palms by traveling into your home on other plants. The bugs can rob palms of vital nutrients, leading to their demise. Fortunately, methods are available to control the mealybug infestation and remove them from your palm plant.
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Remove the mealybugs with tweezers. Mealybugs are often found in locations where the leaves meet the stems and will also crawl around the edge of the palm's pot. The upper parts of the palm, in addition to the sides of leaves, are also commonly frequented by the bugs. Place the bugs in a lidded container and pour boiling water over them, or squish them with your fingers.
Dip a piece of cotton in isopropyl alcohol and wipe the palm's leaves. You can also dab the bugs with the alcohol-soaked cotton. The alcohol will clean the leaves of the sticky substance mealybugs often leave behind, as well as kill the bugs.
Spray the plant with a forceful hose to remove the bugs from the palm leaves. The water can also remove any egg sacks the bugs have placed on the plant. Follow the spraying by cleaning the leaves with alcohol.
Spray the palm plant with neem oil or pesticide. The sprays will often suffocate the mealybugs. Spray the product on the top and underside of the palm's leaves as well as around the pot to kill any bugs that attempt to crawl away. Most of these types of products are sprayed directly to the palm and the bugs; however, read their directions carefully for best results.
Throw away heavily infested plants, as the treatments may not be enough to completely wipe the mealybugs’ presence out. Quarantine any new plants you bring into your home for at least two weeks before you integrate them into your existing plants to prevent the spread of mealybugs or other pests.
Neem oil and pesticide is typically available at home and garden centers.
Heather Vecchioni is a freelance writer in Maryland. Her work has appeared in several animal-interest magazines, as well as Baltimore-area newspapers and publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Maryland. She has worked in the veterinary field for over 10 years and has been writing and editing professionally for over five.