Hi, my name is: Mealybug

Describe yourself: I’m about 4mm long, and I’m a real sweetie, covered in a lovely layer of white powder. Although I may look cuddly, I’m a really hard worker, and enjoy hanging out with my mates on the cool undersides of leaves and stems.

Hobbies: I love nothing more than sucking sap from leaves and stems! Exuding honeydew is a special talent, which encourages sooty mould. I also release toxic saliva that can seriously damage plants.

Likes: Citrus plants, orchids, ferns, loads of ornamental plants and shade houses. I like warm and humid weather… it just makes me want to breed! Oh, and I love ants, they really look out for me!

Dislikes: Being scrapped off a plant with a stick, home made veggie oil soap mixes or store bought alternatives. I really don’t get on with parasitic wasps and Ladybirds.

You’ll know you’ve met me when: New growth on your plant looks weird and the plant has a sprinkling of white furry stuff on leaves. You can also see me and my mates hanging out along the veins of leaves and on stems.

Breaking up ain’t hard to do… if you:

    • Stop my ant friends from coming around by growing tansy or other ant repellent plants! Ants tend to our every need and protect us from garden bullies. Without their protection we are all alone in the world.
    • Irritate me by putting a flattened square of aluminium foil around the base of plants to bounce light on the undersides of leaves.
    • Spray me with a home made garlic or chilli soap. Or even a store bought insecticidal soap and target the undersides of the leaves.
    • Spray your plants’ leaves with water and knock me and my mates right off our perch!

  • Pay your neighbours kids to come round and wipe me off with a stick!
  • Buy some Ladybirds or Parasitic Wasps, and release them onto the infected plants.
  • Use plants that have a milky sap or furry leaves… we hate them!
  • Dab us with rubbing alcohol or methylated spirits…..man, that burns (but it won’t harm your plants).

Photographs:

Pic 1: Photo by Michael Masiuk woodypests.cas.psu.edu
Pic 2: http://wihort.uwex.edu
Pic 3: www.bugsforbugs.com.au Desc: Australian Native Ladybird… destroyers of mealybugs!

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