January 13, 2022 / Residential Pest Control

White Bugs on Houseplants? Here’s What to Do.

white bugs on houseplants

Did you know that in addition to New Year’s and Martin Luther King’s birthday, the month of January also marks National Houseplant Appreciation Day?

In celebration, we want to share an important tip to help you care for the plant babies in your house. Consider this our PSA about a potential pest that could prove harmful to your plants, especially if you picked up a new plant in honor of National Houseplant Appreciation Day!

Bringing home a new plant is exciting. Whether a gift or something you picked out yourself from your local nursery, there is nothing like a new houseplant to breathe fresh air into a living space -- quite literally!

Oh My, Mealybugs!

Imagine finding the perfect plant for your desk or windowsill, only to bring it home and find a white patch on one of its leaves or stem… and then another… and another. This discovery can only mean one thing: mealybugs.

Mealybugs are tiny, white, oval patches that cling to any part of your house plant. Typically targeting perennial foliage plants, mealybugs can attack all parts of the plant, including the roots, which explains why you may not see them at first when picking out your new plant.

In small quantities mealybugs may not cause a great amount of damage. However, as the infestation increases, the sucking mouth parts of the mealybug, called stylets, latch onto the leaves and suck out the sap. This can cause yellowing in the leaves and result in a general weakening of the plant as a whole.

That’s why it’s best to find this unwelcome pest quickly before they spread about your new plant, or to any other plants that might share a windowsill. Look closely for small, oval-shaped, cotton-like patches. Mealybugs are wingless and may even appear like a piece of fuzz.

DIY Moves Against Mealybugs

Although they are annoying, there is a fantastic DIY solution to help eradicate this pest:

  1. Grab your blender and place a clove of garlic, a small onion, and 1 tsp of cayenne pepper, and zip the ingredients into a paste.
  2. Mix this paste with water and let it steep for one hour.
  3. Strain the solution and add dish soap.
  4. Pour the final product into a spray bottle and apply it to your house plants!

With this simple spray solution, there is no need to alert pest control professionals. You’ve got this! The best thing you can do for mealybug damage control is make sure your plants are healthy in the first place. Mealybugs are less likely to feed on thriving, healthy, well potted plants. Instead they seek under-potted, stressed, and unhealthy plants. If you discover that these pests have already made their way into your home, create this solution, and keep your beautiful plants healthy.

Found a weird bug? Email a picture to Dr. Gary, our very own entomologist and pest expert.