Anyone know how to get rid of mealy bugs forever?

Jacquelyne May
by Jacquelyne May
Been fighting mealy bugs on house plants literally for decades. I've replaced all plants, washed all pots in hot water and soap, replaced all potting soil and still they start to reappear.
Washing them off with cotton balls dipped in alcohol is just a temporary fix. Anyone have a good solution?

  6 answers
  • Gretchen Williams Arrant Gretchen Williams Arrant on Jul 20, 2017

    I take my plants out and give them a "bubble bath". I fill a spray bottle with tap water and then add about a half teaspoon of dishwashing liquid. Turn over to mix. Spray the entire plant. I do mine outside so I don't make a mess inside. I've done this for as long as I can remember without any harm to a plant. Hope this helps Your situation.

  • Molly Anmar Molly Anmar on Jul 20, 2017

    Unfortunately, in the home or greenhouse environment, crawlers may occur at many times during the year, and there may be repeated generations of these insects.

    For a small number of plants, hand picking, washing, or using a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to remove individual mealybugs can give good control.

    Washing with soapy water solution (two teaspoons of a mild dish detergent, not soap, per gallon of water) using a soft brush or cloth, will help to dislodge the mealybugs.

    Discarding heavily infested plants may be the best recommendation for those plants and for others around them.

    If you are not sure, isolate nearby plants for a few months until it can be determined whether they also have mealybugs or not. You may also want to isolate plants after treatment to avoid reinfestation

    There are also houseplant insecticide products available to treat mealybugs on plants. Be sure that the plant you want to treat, and “mealybugs,” are listed on the label. Check the label to see if the product is safe for use indoors, or move the plant outside for treatment. Some plants are very sensitive to chemical sprays, and on these plants a lower rate of application is usually given on the label.

    Sensitive plants include Boston Ivy, Maidenhair and Pteris ferns, some species of Crassula, African violets, Gloxinia, Orchids and Begonias. If you do choose to treat a plant, you need to apply it so thorough coverage of the plant is achieved.

    Applications may have to be repeated (see label directions) if mealybugs reappear. This may occur because some of the mealybugs may be well hidden and may not come in contact with the insecticide, or because the mealybugs may have been in a non-susceptible stage (e.g. eggs) when the application was made

    Click here to see recommended insecticides for mealybugs:

  • Connie McPherson Connie McPherson on Jul 20, 2017

    alcohol dabbed on the bugs smothers them.

  • Vidura Randeepa Vidura Randeepa on Feb 25, 2021

    Mealybugs are worldwide pests of ornamental plants grown indoors (greenhouse) and outdoors (scape environments and conservatories). As well as both greenhouse and field-grown ornamentals are commonly attacked by mealybug.

  • Pat Pat on Feb 25, 2021

    For most kinds of houseplant insects I use Systemic Insect Killer. It is a powder that you stir into the top inch of your houseplant soil and then water very well. I do this to plants that have been on the porch all summer and I want to bring them in the house. Within a week or more insects. Not sure about mealy bugs but worth a try. I buy in insect systemic stuff at Earl May or a hardware store that sells that sort of garden stuff.