Mealy bugs are common insects that belong to the pseudococcidae family and infest a wide range of cropping, garden and ornamental plants. They live in warm, moist climates and destroy coffee trees, grapes, sugarcane, gardenias, ferns and orchids. Mealy bugs should be removed as soon as they are spotted.
One of the most effective ways to manage a mealy bug infestation is by maintaining crop sanitation. Inspect any new plant or stock you bring into the home or garden to ensure that it is free of mealy bugs. You should isolate infected plants to prevent the spread of mealy bugs to other healthy plants. Heavily infected plants should be discarded to risk further spread of the insect.
Early Crop Termination
You need to terminate infected crops immediately between two crop-producing seasons and before the last crop picking. This is done to remove shelter and food supply and limit the multiplication and further infestation of mealy bugs. Avoid ratoon cropping since it offers shelter and food and provides inoculum to the insects for another season.
Growing Maize, Bajra or Pigeonpea
You can plant two rows of densely planted maize, bajra and pigeonpea at the border of the crop field. These plants provide the least support for the multiplication and growth of mealy bugs.
Spraying insecticides and chemically treating a mealy bug infestation are difficult, because the bugs' waxy epidermis resists most chemical action. Insecticides that reduce the risk of a mealy bug infestation include imidaclorip, organophosphates, and kinoprene. These substances are most effective if sprayed over the bugs at their crawling stage (nymphs). Mealy bug eggs are resistant to chemical treatment and a second application of an insecticide is necessary after two weeks to kill newly hatched larvae.
Beauveria bassiana (parasitic fungus that acts on various species of insects), pyrethrin/PBO3 (a botanical insecticide made primarily from the flowers of the chrysanthemum family) and pyrethrin/rotenone (a biological insecticide) are biological agents that feed on above-ground mealy bug species.
Treating with Neonicotinoids
Neonicotinoids are a type of natural insecticides that act on and destroy the nervous system of insects. They are widely used and kill insects within a few hours after application. Types of neonicotinoid insecticides include acetamiprid, clothianidin and nitenpyram. They are toxic to scale insects, including the evasive mealy bug.