How to kill mealy bugs in soil

Updated February 21, 2017

An infestation of mealy bugs can quickly decimate your garden. Mealy bugs are small, soft-bodied insects that feed on plants and destroy them with toxins in their saliva. Mealy bugs mate throughout the spring and summer and lay their eggs underground, so treating the soil is necessary to eradicating heavy infestations.

Put on a pair of rubber gloves and kill as many of the mealy bugs as you can with your hands. Mealy bugs are small, white or light grey bugs that gather near the top or under the leaves of plants. Squish the bugs between your finger and thumb, and rinse the plant with a garden hose.

Pour 29.6ml. insecticidal soap and 59.1ml. rubbing alcohol into a spray bottle, and fill the bottle with water. Spray each infected plant from top to bottom, coating the top and bottom of each leaf to kill mealy bugs visible on the plant. Spray the garden every other day until no more bugs can be seen.

Turn over the soil around each plant with a shovel, and coat the soil with an insecticidal soil drench. A soil drench is a concentrated insecticide made to penetrate the ground and kill mealy bugs under the surface. Repeat the drench once a week for four weeks.

Release adult ladybirds onto infected plants one month after the last application of insecticide. Ladybirds eat mealy bugs and eggs, helping prevent an infestation. Ladybirds crawl down into the soil and eat bugs and larvae hiding underground.


Ladybirds and soil drench can be purchased through your local garden supply store.

Things You'll Need

  • Rubber gloves
  • Garden hose
  • Insecticidal soap
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Shovel
  • Insecticide soil drench
  • Ladybirds
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About the Author

Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.