Mealybugs on jade plant

(Question)

How do I get rid of mealy bugs on my jade plant?
It has never been outside.

(Answer)

Thank you for your inquiry. Mealybugs are small soft bodied insects that have needle-like mouthparts with which they puncture the plant tissue and suck out the plant sap. This results in a stippling or yellowing of affected plant parts. Mealybugs are usually found in the axils of leaves or along veins.  They are covered with a white waxy coating  which retards moisture loss from their soft bodies. The key to controlling this pest is to understand its life cycle. The rate of development of mealybugs is directly dependant on the environmental temperature and humidity. They prefer warm humid sheltered sites, which is why indoor plants present an ideal breeding ground. Mealybug eggs  hatch after 7-10 days, one female can lay up to 200 eggs.  It is therefore imperative that the plant is checked for pests every week and treatment repeated every 7-10 days.

The first step in controlling this disease is to isolate the plant in question so that the pest does not spread to neighbouring plants. Heavily infested branches should be removed and destroyed. Place the plant in the shower and knock off  the insects with a brisk spray of water. This procedure may have to be repeated a number of times. Wash the plant with insecticidal soap that is available from your local garden centre. Remember that this will have to be repeated every 7-10 days until all the generations of mealy bugs have been destroyed.

You may wish to refer to the following Gardening Guides for additional information: Controlling Insects Without Pesticides, Integrated Pest Management, Growing Cacti and other Succulents.

Good luck