Puffy white infestation on houseplant

linnea56(z5 IL)February 26, 2011

I have not seen this particular bug before. Where the leaf stems meet the main stem, there is some powdery/puffy white stuff that looks like cotton. It's not mold, you can see tiny bugs.

What is this, and what can I use on it? Thanks!

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You've got mealybugs! They can be cleaned off by hand, and a Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol can be used to remove them. Get them before they spread, as an infestation can be difficult to control.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 9:33PM
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Yup mealies! They give me the "willies"! Besides rubbing alcohol (which does work) Bonide makes a control for them as well.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 11:20AM
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One time trying to rid them won't be enough. Keep an eye out for any you missed which can be very tiny and hiding.

Scale and mealies are the worst! Nasty creatures!

Billy Rae

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 4:13PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

What kind of plant is infested? MOST plants do just fine with alcohol, but not all. Let us know before applying anything.

Forget the cotton swabs and fill a spray bottle with a solution of one part rubbing alcohol (plain) to three parts water. This will allow you to mist the entire plant. Don't drench the soil, of course.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 12:49PM
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If you have other plants mist them all, ants are the villians who spread them, if you recently purchased a new plant that is what could have brought it into the house. Been there and done that.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 1:17AM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

Thanks, all!

I washed off all the leaves and stems with plain water first, pinching each between a folded wet paper towel. Then I repeated the process with the rubbing alcohol. Trickiest was getting into the tight space between the leaf stems and the main stem, which I did with a q-tip. Now that I know, I will be paying attention for population growth. This went from, "I wonder what that is?" to "major colony" status so fast.

This is a croton. A strange one with very skinny leaves.

I had taken this one outside late last summer, thinking it would look good on the porch. I also planted 2 exotic large leaved ivies in with it at the same time. It must have gotten the bugs while it was outside. The ivies have no sign of infestation at all.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 11:57AM
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Limnea..Washing first is a good idea. Add a little dish soap.
Mealy Bugs are the worse. A couple baby Clivias had, what I thought were Mealy, but discovered it to be mushy Perlite.
Before figuring what they were, I too used Q-tips, w/RA, in-between the inner-most leaves..Afterwards, I sprayed w/RA. Every third day for a little over a week. Then I found it was Perlite. lol..

Many people here on GW use RA..much better than chemicals..Some even claim, crushed Geranium leaves, sprinkled on the soil, do the job. I'll try anything, 'except chemicals,' to keep those critters off my plants.

Good luck. Toni

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 2:17PM
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linnea - it is amazing how fast they can grow. And I'm always bemused about just how they show up...it's like they materialize like a Genie. I haven't had these in many years....and hope it stays that way. I had some soil mealies last year that came in a trade I did. I've learned to carefully quarantine and isolate EVERY new plant that I bring in. From mealies to thrips, there are many pests that can hitchhike in unnoticed.

Hope they stay away.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 5:27PM
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twenty five years ago I had a huge jade plant that seemingly overnight developed this. My then six year old daughter sat underneath it (it was in a big pot on a table) with the RA and the Q tips, and went to work. I did the easier top of the leaf stuff. I wish I had a picture of her - she was so intent on "getting it clean"!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 11:47AM
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