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#33824 July 1st, 2005 at 07:45 PM
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Well I have mealy bugs on my two rubber trees. I have never had them on any other plant of mine. So will they kill my plants? Can someone give me the up and up on these pests? And how to get rid of them!

#33825 July 4th, 2005 at 06:45 AM
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Mealies will take over your rubber plant and make a sticky mess and cause it to weaken and lose leaves before it ultimately succombs. Not treating them is not an option for you. Here's the up-and-up on mealies.

The difficulty with treating mealybugs is that there is always more to deal with than meets the eye. Young mealybugs lack the telltale cotton-like protective coating and they are skillful at hiding in nooks and crannies where leaves and stems join.

The key to successfully eradicating these creatures is to spray the ones that are out of sight. That means that whatever treatment you select, you must get complete coverage, to the drip point, of all leaf and stem surfaces. If you miss a few, they will live to breed another day.

I do not recommend any pesticides because they are all hazardous to use and not 100% effective against mealybugs. The best non-toxic treatment for mealybug is called Brand X foliage cleaner (Yes, that's for real). It is available through Southwest Plantscape Products in California (www.southwestplantscape.com ). Their phone is 1-800-333-7977. It is a silicon-based product so it is very slippery. Its ability to penetrate is probably the key to its effectiveness because it gets into the tiny crevices that other sprays miss.

You may want to try spraying with rubbing alcohol. Mix 1 part alcohol with 8 to 10 parts of water. Be sure to spray all leaf and stem surfaces thoroughly. The common practice of applying alcohol with a Q-tip is not effective because it misses the ones you can"t see. It is also best if you repeat this treatment again in 5 to 7 days to catch any crawlers that you missed the first time. After that, you should check your plant weekly to see if they return.

Another option is to wash the plant down with soap and water. Use the same dilution as when washing dishes. Apply in the same manner as rubbing alcohol.

Never spray in direct sunlight or when temperatures are above 75 degrees. It is also advisable to test any spray on a few leaves as a test before you spray the entire plant. Wait a few days following the test to see if there is any negative reaction to the spray.

#33826 July 6th, 2005 at 08:50 PM
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Thanks so much Will you are always so helpful!!!

Well I think I want to go with the Brand X foliage cleaner bc Im always afraid of mixing stuff myself that I will get too much of one thing or too little of one thing, ya know?

But even with the Brand X foliage cleaner do I still need to follow the -- Never spray in direct sunlight or when temperatures are above 75 degrees?

I want these things gone! I sure dont want them to kill my plants.

Now if I get the Brand X foliage cleaner do I spray the soil? It does kill them, right?

Thanks!

#33827 July 7th, 2005 at 07:25 AM
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Mealybugs are not too hard to eradicate on rubber plants - fewer places to hide. I suggest the rubbing alcohol and soap treatment first. Don't sweat the proportions. Those are just rough guidelines. Fill your sprayer about a quarter full with alcohol and then fill it with water and add a squirt of liquid soap.

The Brand X is more expensive and it takes a while to order and get it shipped to you.

No direct sun or high temps when spraying or as long as the leaves are still wet with whatever spray you use.

Mealybugs don't live in the soil, so there is no reason to spray the soil; just the leaf and stem surfaces - very thoroughly.

#33828 July 10th, 2005 at 06:20 AM
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Ok thanks, I think Im going to try and fill my sprayer with water and soap and try that. Do you think that will work?

#33829 July 10th, 2005 at 07:20 AM
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Yes, it will work if you follow my instructions and are very thorough in applying it.

Some of my best friends are mealybugs and they all hate me for revealing their secrets!

#33830 July 12th, 2005 at 12:51 AM
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Well what I did was filled my sprayer with water and some liquid soap. I sprayed the leaves and now I have to check again to see if I spot anymore of these critters!

Do I need to wait 7 days if I do see more? The soap isnt going to kill my plant will it? I'm just paranoid about it bc it is growing so well!

#33831 July 12th, 2005 at 06:14 AM
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If you were really thorough, you will not find any live mealybugs, only some residue of the dead ones. Wipe that away. Wait a week or so and spray again the same way. Then don't spray again until you see live mealybugs again, which you probably will not.

The soap will not harm your plant, but excessive spraying serves no useful purpose.

I am confident that you are a thorough person and you will not have further problems. Please come back in 3 months and tell me if I am right!

#33832 July 12th, 2005 at 08:51 AM
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What do mealy bugs look like? I am suspecting that my Umbrella plant has them. Some leaves are sticky with brown spots on them, but I can scrape the brown spots off. Does my Umbrella plant have mealy bugs?

#33833 July 12th, 2005 at 09:02 AM
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Hi Michele,

Your umbrella tree has scale insects, close relatives of mealybugs, although they don't look much alike.

Treat the scales the same way as I recommended for the mealybugs. Let me know if you have any questions.

#33834 July 12th, 2005 at 10:56 AM
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Hi Will Creed,

Is this soapy water a cure all? Sounds like can be used for all pests for houseplants.

tifflo.

#33835 July 12th, 2005 at 09:35 PM
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Thanks Will. I try to be thorough bc I LOVE my plants and I have never had any pests problems before. I will let you know!

Michele if you go to google.com and type in mealy bugs you will get pictures of what they look like. And probably if you also type in scale insects.

#33836 July 13th, 2005 at 04:24 AM
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Tifflo - Soapy water clogs the breathiung apparatus and smothers many tiny indoor plant pests, especially spider mites. The addition of rubbing alcohol helps break down the protective coatings of mealybugs and scale insects. Soap is less effective against aphids and not at all effective against fungus gnats

These remedies work quite well as long as the treatment is really thorough. And of course they are safe for people, pets, and the environment.

#33837 July 14th, 2005 at 08:38 AM
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Will,
I filled up a spray bottle with your mixture and sprayed all of the Umbrella plant (trying to become a tree), even the leaves that were not infected.
DIE SCALELY BUGS! DIE!

LOL thanks for the info and I will post the results later.

smh02- good idea, I many do that.

#33838 July 20th, 2005 at 08:17 AM
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one option is to mix a mild soap into a spray bottle with water, shake it up and spray it on the infested areas about 2 or 3 times a day. U can also tape alcohol swabs to the tree in multiple areas which will dry out the bugs. One last suggestio is order a small packet of ldy bugs.

#33839 July 20th, 2005 at 08:44 AM
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Lady bugs rarely work on houseplants. They can work in an enclosed space with lots of infested plants, such as a greenhouse. A single plant with pests is not sufficient to sustain ladybugs.

#33840 July 21st, 2005 at 09:53 PM
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I have sprayed my plant about 3 times with soapy water in a spray bottle and they are still there? Do I need to add rubbing alcohol to the mixture?

#33841 July 22nd, 2005 at 07:05 AM
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Yes, the alcohol will help dissolve the outer protective coating of the mealybugs. Be sure you spray in all the nooks and crannies very thoroughly - all leaf and stem surfaces should be dripping wet.

#33842 July 22nd, 2005 at 09:49 AM
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after that will they just drop off or have to wipe them off? Actually I found scales on my schefflera plant. I've already sprayed with alcohol/soap mixture.

#33843 July 23rd, 2005 at 04:06 AM
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Tifflo,

Mealybugs pretty much dissolve and wash away with a forceful alcohol/soap spray. That is not the case with hard-shelled scale insects. Although the alcohol usually penetrates the scale shell and kills it, the shell often remains in place. It is best to wipe them off. That way you can determine if any new ones appear in the future.


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