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.