Majesty Palm - Mealy Bugs or Spider Mites?

phillo12345February 13, 2014

I bought a majesty palm at Ikea a few months ago without knowing anything about the plant. After doing some research I realized they're not ideal indoor plants but I've been determined to make it work. I carry it into the bathroom and soak it thoroughly to water. I mist it a couple of times a day. It's not getting direct sunlight but it's in a big, bright window.

It seemed to be doing well but when I gave it its shower today I noticed some white spots on the back of the leaves, pictured. Besides those spots there is some minor, minute browning at the ends of some of the fronds but otherwise the palm appears to be doing well. I thought the browning might be due to too much fertilizer (9-3-6 Foliage Pro) so I stopped fertilizing. But these white spots are making me nervous. Any suggestions?

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And here's a somewhat blurry photo of the whole plant...

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 2:52PM
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looks like the mealy bugs I just dealt with. personally I decided to err on the side of trashing some plants. But I also treated the rest with water/alcohol/little dish soap mix and systemic granules. isolate the plant and check everything else closely as well.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 4:13PM
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Philo, I expanded the photo, but still can't get a clear pic.

Are the white objects nearest the stem and leaf? I see white, but don't know if it's the light, camera or insects.

If pests, mealy resemble cotton. Mites are harder to spot, but leave fine webs as evidence. Toni

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 4:51PM
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Thanks for the responses...I'm thinking mealy bugs?

Should I toss the plant or treat it? If I do treat it, I just watered it today, can I still water with systemic granules dissolved in water tomorrow? Or should I use the soap/alcohol/water mix?

Just how contagious is this pest? I don't want to lose more plants. Does quarantine mean isolating the plant in its own room or keeping it a few feet from other plants?

Hopefully the attached picture is a little clearer. Thanks for the advice.


    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 7:22PM
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the systemic is actually more of a preventative measure, so the place to start is with spraying or some people go through with a q tip and alcohol and swab each individual bug. I found they melted away with the pressure from the spray bottle but its still pretty tedious for this size of plant. from what I read they are pretty difficult to get rid of and I am inexperienced, which is why I took drastic measures. I didn't have to throw anything nearly this big away! I would put it as far away from the others as possible and get to spraying. it will take some persistence.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 9:22PM
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ok thanks again for the help. i'm going to mix up some spray and treat the plant topically and maybe start with the granules to maybe prevent future problems.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 10:53AM
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Philo, yes, isolate your palm.

You asked how contagious mealy is..VERY contagious.
Actually, most insects attack other plants, but in my experience, mealybug is the worse.

Sorry, don't mean to sound like the voice of doom, but I've lost many, many plants because of mealy. I've tossed a great number.

If you have a spare room, yes, isolate from your other greens.

I hope the spray sure to spray all parts of your palm..under, atop, stems, trunk...

If possible, hose foliage first..then spray. Good luck, Toni

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 11:59AM
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Toni thanks for the follow up. I brought the palm into the tub and liberally sprayed it with a mix of 1 part palmolive dish soap, 1 part water and 1 tbsp of cooking oil; I then let it sit overnight. In the morning I sprayed it with the shower and after it dried off I couldn't find any bugs. I then used Bonide granules in the soil.

The palm is as isolated as it's gonna get so hopefully I caught this soon enough. Thanks again.


    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 4:18PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Good grief!!!! Do you know that the usual home made concoction calls for teaspoons of detergent per gallon of water? Dish detergent can damage or kill a plant at FAR weaker solutions than 50:50.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 8:31AM
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Hi are you?

Rhizo, normally I'd agree, but when it comes to mealybug, I'd add a full bottle of dish soap to water as a last resort. :)

Over the last 3-4 years, I've discarded approximately 100 plants because of mealy..

Rhizo, one member who uses/d Bayer vowed the systemic killed all insects..Later, he admitted mealy and mites covered several plants in his collection.
He used other poisons, but mealy are indestructible. He too ended up tossing a good number. Think you know who I'm referring to???

In Phil's case, half-and-half won't matter. Mealy is more likely to kill a plant than soap.

To be honest, I've poured dish soap on leaves, w/o measuring without problems..

Anyway, I hope you're well..

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 10:49AM
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