How to kill mealy bugs in soil

Written by louise lawson
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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.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

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

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Instructions

  1. 1

    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.

  2. 2

    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.

  3. 3

    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.

  4. 4

    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.

Tips and warnings

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

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