Dracaena Marginata Pest

tamasine(6)December 20, 2008

I just found what looks like a pillbug in the dirt of my dracaena marginata.

how can i kill this bug but not kill my dracaena?It looks like a miniature centipede.I dont have potting soil with me,and i wont be able to get any till sunday.How can i kill this without harming my plant?

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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Scoop it up, put it outdoors, and step on it.

Beyond that, if it's a pillbug it should roll into a ball when disturbed.

Or is it elongated and flattened with *many* legs? If so, may be a centipede. A predator and not a problem for the plant.

Or is it elongaeted and rounded with *many* legs? If so, a millipede. A scavenger, only.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2008 at 3:17PM
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bugs don't particularly end up in the soil of our houseplants unless its to eat or suck the juices from the leaves and stems.
So,....they are not welcomed.

There are many methods to kill a bug. Pluck it out, and between thumb and forefinger, squeeze it.
Soap. Soap is one of the leading methods to kill any bug.
The soap causes the skin of the bug to be wrapped in, preventing it to breathe and so dies of suffocation.
Soap also is an astringent...it dries the skin of the bug...just like leaving soap on our skin dries it.

But soap can harm a plant's breathing air and water so any use of soap is with the intent to leave it on only a short time...5 - 10 minutes is sufficient.
Sprays. There are probably a 100 plus sprays which can be effective. But, sometimes sprays can do more harm than what the bug is doing. You should identify the bug and use the spray designed for it.

Water. Water can kill a bug simply by making it breathe...it either drowns or comes up for air.
Fill your laundry tub...or any deep container, and immerse wholly your plant--pot and all, and wait until the bubbles stop. That is you cue the water has filled all spaces and air is driven out. The bug, wanting to breathe, has to come up. You simply pluck it out and dispose of.
This method is then treated as one of the usual waterings and the plant is allowed to dry down as per usual.
This method though saturates the soil and may cause the plant to take up more water than it should. This method therefore, should be used no more than 2 - 3 times a year.

Sometimes just spraying a hard stream on the plant is sufficient to knock off the bug. This is used most commonly for aphids and other bugs that have short life cycles....from egg, to larvae, to adult stage in as few as a few days.
So whatever method you use, be sure to repeat often enough to break the cycle...usually 3 times in any 20 day term, then keep a constant vigil in case you see any sign of its return.

If you use the soap method, you want to use a solution strong enough, but not too strong to effect killing, but not harm the plant even for such a short time.

A 2 - 3 percent solution is recommended.
Since most spray bottles have --either a litre...or a quart--size...32 oz...or 1000 ml...such percentage of soap can be
approximately 3/4 of an oz, followed by filling the bottle with water for 2%.....1 oz for 3%.
Spray on covering all surfaces top to bottom, repeat it bottom to top making sure to cover all surfaces, top and bottom.
Wait 10 minutes, then rinse with tepid water, making sure to cover all surfaces top to bottom, bottom to top.

To find out if there are any eggs or larvae in the soil, it should be disturbed. Use a dinner fork to scrape the soil surface and remove anything you perceive as not belonging. Repeat 3 times every 7 days.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2008 at 4:01PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

In order to decide what to do, one first needs a definitive identification. (That's why I waffled in my original reply.)

Some critters are loners and not a problem, others aren't. Even so, many are "just there."

Can you post an image?

    Bookmark   December 21, 2008 at 5:59PM
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I think for sure that it's a centipede,because it's longer and thinner than i pill bug.My camera isnt too good,but when my dracaena needs another watering,i will try and get the bug out.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2008 at 6:02PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Well, if it's a centipede, you don't need to worry. Further, you shouldn't use any pesticides.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2008 at 10:18PM
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