What do you know about soil mealybugs?

goddess9(7b)June 1, 2012

So, I was checking the bottom of the roots of my Hypoestes phllyostachya, and saw some white beads. They didn't seem to move and I pulled them out the best I could. I also saw the same thing on another plant (which I cannot remember for the life of me), and thought it was honestly a fungus.

Now, I came across a photo of a pest and put 2 and 2 together. OH NO, not soil mealies!

What can I do to get rid of them? Are they are contagious as those that like to infest axils and undersides of leaves? Please help. :(

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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

White beads???

Are you sure they're not fertilizer of some kind like time release? Osmocote (a time released fertilizer) looks like turquoise beads to me.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 2:02PM
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goddess9(7b)

Hi PG,

They're not turquoise. They're white/off yellow. Not to say you said this, but it's not perlite and it's certainly not a granule of fertilizer.

I'll take a picture when I get home. For now, this is what I saw on the rootballs a while back.

http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y52/ryferre/SoilMealyBug-1.jpg

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 2:37PM
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cactusmcharris

Those aren't root mealies, which look like ash and are on the plant's roots (there are no real soil mealies, as mealies live off of living plant tissue). That appears to me to be eggs of some insect, but I guess it could be fungi, too.

I'd chuck the old soil and repot with fresh.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 3:49PM
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birdsnblooms

Hi Goddess, How've you been?

I hope your plant doesn't have soil meal. I've never seen this pest on a plant, but they are bad news.

If you can't get an answer here on HP Forum, try the African Violet Forum. Soil Mealy is often found in AV soil.

I hope your plant is without these awful insects. Toni

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 3:57PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

I didn't mean the turquoise, I meant the "beads". Bugs are often that round, tho' maybe the eggs are.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 4:59PM
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goddess9(7b)

Thanks for your input, guys. Toni, I'm doing fine thank you. And yourself? :)

I have pictures. Please respond...I have the plant out of the pot and want to know what to do ASAP.

Again, they don't move. However, I did find them both at the top and bottom of the pot. The sides of the pot don't appear affected.

Lauren

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 5:14PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I've never had the pleasure of seeing root mealybugs in person, but these sure do look like the images I found. I'm not sure what to do about them, but I'll do some searching for you. For now, repot the plant to protect the roots.

Let's try to solve the problem without toxic chemicals or potentially harmful elixers.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 7:00PM
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goddess9(7b)

:( So you're suggesting I replace ALL of the soil?

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 7:45PM
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goddess9(7b)

I'd also like to add that the plant is growing wonderfully and is blooming. I'm hoping it's really nothing...

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 7:50PM
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mrmothernature

That is not a mealybug infestation. It is a type of fungus, including some mycelia or fungus roots. The fungus is relatively harmless and does not require any drastic action as it will not harm the plant. However, it is often a sign that the soil is being kept too moist and that will lead to root rot.

I suggest that you put the plant back into its pot and allow the soil to dry out as deep into the pot as possible. Be sure to not let the pot sit in water.

Now, aren't you glad you don't have mealybugs to deal with?!

~Will

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 9:29PM
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goddess9(7b)

OMG, I'm so hoping you are right! I love this plant to pieces - it's the only one blooming for me right now.

The only reason I water her as often as I do is because she's a "fainter"...she sits in a bright window and will wilt if she gets too dry. I watered her yesterday.

Now that I think of it, it's in crappy MG soil. I'm going to repot her later on in the year. THANK YOU!!!!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 10:04PM
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cactusmcharris

Lauren,

Yep, Will's right, it's a mold. You're watering too often or (and this is my guess) it's got too much peat in the soil (but not much Spam in it).

And you're spot on about the MG soil - use only in dire straits (or if it's free, but it first has to be filtered for chunkage, and perhaps porosity-inducing material (perlite / pumice) introduced)).

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 11:19PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Cactus, can we agree to call it a fungus and not a mold? Mold has negative connotations, I think. Many soil borne fungi are beneficial.

You DO have a little bit of root pruning to do, before you repot. Just snip off those lower, circling roots with some sharp scissors. The roots look very healthy, nice and white.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 11:59PM
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birdsnblooms

Goddess, okay, thank you.

I did a search for your Hypoestes/Polka Dot Plant. Three common problems are Scale, 'yours doesn't have Scale,' Grey or Powdery Mildew.
One article said, Grey Mildew is caused by cold, wet soil, or plant isn't getting enough light.

Since the leaves 'Faint,' you're watering properly unless leaves are wilting to the point they drop.
They need light to keep colors. In summer, soil should be kept moderately moist. Winter growing is a pain. Soil definately needs to dry between waterings.

Pinching stem/leaf tips keeps compact. Without proper light they grow tall and spindly. Pinching prevents this from happening.

I don't know what's going on with soil, sorry. I still say, if you suspect soil Mealy, check out AV Forum, and/or Google pictures of Soil Mealy, Mildews, Mold, etc.

Polka Dots are beautiful plants, but do best outdoors, as accent plants. Both pink and green types.

But, they're not impossible growing indoors, if the right conditions are met.

I truly hope you find a solution.

Good luck, Goddess......Toni

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 4:41PM
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goddess9(7b)

Thank god mine don't have scale! I don't have the patience for those bugs and will chuck any plant that does have it.

I'm not pretty assured that this is a fungus, not soil/root mealies. Phew. I will let her dry out though. I usually neglect her until she faints but since I was actually around this week, I probably watered her too much.

She's growing happily in a west window. I just recently started pinching so she's a little top-heavy, heh.

Thanks so much for your concern. :) I was very anxious yesterday.

Thank you for everyone as well. Gardeners, as I always say, really are a good bunch.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 10:23PM
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aseedisapromise

I have had soil mealies, and they are very hard to get rid of. Below are two photos of them on a Thanksgiving cactus I had. One is the mealies in the drip tray, one is the mealies in the soil. Mine look smaller than what you have in your photo, as far as I can tell. What I do for them is this. If the plant can be propagated from a cutting, I do that. It has to be a part of the plant that didn't touch the soil. Then I toss the soil and roots out. The pot I wash in lysol and let dry. I have tossed out macrame plant hangers that I made just to be sure. If it is a plant that goes dormant, I let it go dormant, remove every bit of the soil and toss it, wash the pot and the bulb, corm, root or whatever, and then store it in a bag until just before it is time to replant. The mealies can't survive a winter in the dry air. This has worked for calla lilies, and Hippiastrums. Fortunately these groups are most of the plants that I have. If it can't be propagated, I toss the plant and the soil and replace it. Or I put it outside in the 20 below zero weather, and then toss it. If it is an irreplaceable plant, you could try a systemic, but it isn't all that effective. Some people have had good luck with treating the soil with a good long soak in hot water, but that hasn't worked for me. The mealies make a sort of hydrophobic area that they hang out in, and then go right back to root munching. You can see the hydrophobic layer in the photo to the right of the red circles around the mealies. The ladies on the African violet form suggest marathon mixed in with the soil. I don't use a lot of chemicals. I took cuttings of this cactus, so I still have it.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 11:39PM
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aseedisapromise

Oops. Missed.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 11:41PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I've never had the pleasure of seeing root mealybugs in person, but these sure do look like the images I found. I'm not sure what to do about them, but I'll do some searching for you. For now, repot the plant to protect the roots.

Let's try to solve the problem without toxic chemicals or potentially harmful elixers.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 4:27PM
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