Mealybug - prevention and control measures
Another pest that should be described in detail is the mealybug. Mealybugs are capable of harm both in greenhouses and in rooms and even in open ground by sucking sap from plants, oppressing them, contributing to their loss of appearance, yield, and decreased immunity. All this can lead to the defeat of these plants by other diseases and pests. We will discuss the measures for the prevention and control of the mealybug in the article.
- What kind of mealybug is he?
- Features of the reproduction of mealybug
- Mealybug harm
- Preventive measures against mealybug
- Folk remedies for mealybug
- We fight with mealybug with the help of chemistry
What kind of mealybug is he?
The mealybug can begin to suck out cell sap from flower crops, fruit plants, as well as crops of a technical nature and even those that grow in greenhouses. Often, having a greenhouse or a greenhouse on your site deprived of this pest, buying new planting material, you yourself, without realizing it, can bring the pest to your site and infect it with soil and plants. Given all this, the fight against the mealybug is necessary and the sooner the better.
The mealybug, from the English Mealybug or the Latin Pseudococcidae, causes subtle damage to plants, it is not like a naked slug eating parts of a leaf, or like a codling moth gnawing seed chambers, but it continuously affects literally all parts of a plant, from fruits to stems and leaf blades, and even flowers with ovaries.
The whole action of the mealybug is corny and it consists in sucking out (sometimes in significant amounts) the life-giving juice from plants, while isolating the results of its vital activity in the form of sweet, sugary secretions, which, like aphid excretions, are very fond of ants and for which, again , as well as on the aphid isolation, a sooty fungus spoiling the appearance of the plant actively sits.
This pest got its interesting name “mealybug” because, being at the larval stage, as well as being an adult, the mealybug’s body is covered with a whitish, flour-like waxy discharge, as well as fairly noticeable hairs.
Features of the reproduction of mealybug
It turns out that a significant increase in this pest contributes to increased air temperature for a given time of the year, as well as excessive doses of various fertilizers in the soil, including a large amount of nitrogen fertilizers, which leads to a general weakening of the plant's body, that is, to a decrease in its immunity.
Few people know that in the open ground and unprotected in just one season, up to two generations of individuals of this pest can hatch during the spring-summer period. In the closed ground, that is, in greenhouses, hotbeds and the like, even more individuals may appear, this also applies to enclosed spaces where flower crops are grown.
You need to know that only one female mealybug is capable of laying up to six hundred eggs per season, which, you see, is not a little. The female lays eggs in a special bag, which she designs from wax-like secretions. Hatching larvae are very tenacious and mobile; some gardeners and gardeners jokingly call them "vagabonds" because they practically do not sit still.
As soon as these same wandering caterpillars, constantly moving, encounter an object suitable for their vital functions that can be easily used for nutritional purposes, they immediately begin to use it for food. The mealybug will change its place of feeding only after biologically necessary molting, or only when there is an urgent need for it, say, food runs out in this area or a huge number of competitors appear nearby and a trivial struggle for coexistence begins.
Before starting to lay eggs, the mealybug female chooses a place for this for a rather long period, giving preference to the most nutritious and safe area. It is attracted, first of all, by various mechanical damages on plants: lagged bark, decayed areas of plants, various cracks. In general, any areas where there is a short or long moist and warm environment, ideal for their reproduction.
Propagating under such conditions, mealybugs damage a huge number of plants, both in open and protected ground (greenhouses, greenhouses, etc.). Once again we repeat - in order not to bring the mealybug to your site, be sure to inspect the planting material, and ideally, first plant these plants in small sections of the garden, forming the so-called quarantine plantings to check them.
Literally at all stages of their development, mealybugs feed, and quite actively, on the sap of plants, somehow affecting or damaging young shoots, young leaves, flower buds, and only occasionally - skeletal shoots and annual growths in the garden.
In the presence of a large number of worms on one fruit plant, their vital activity can cause the trunk of skeletal branches to begin to crack, sores will actively form, and even yellow spots will appear on the leaf blades, which subsequently grow a little and cause the leaf blades turn yellow.
Naturally, such a vital activity of the mealybug cannot be invisible: the plants affected by it lose most of their decorativeness, are quite inhibited in growth and development, stop in flowering or may not exist at all, as well as the formation of fruits and, in fact, fruiting, and if the plants are not treated, they will certainly perish.
Worms eat much more than they need. All the excess food that they ate without measure, they banally emit, driving through themselves, in the form of honey dew. A sooty fungus sits quite quickly on these secretions and begins to develop there. As a result, the surface of the plants where the sooty fungus has settled, begins to darken and becomes almost black. What does this threaten the plants, in addition to the unsightly appearance: there is a significant decrease and inhibition of the photosynthetic processes occurring in plants, their respiration is worsened.
But this is not all, the mealybug actively emits sweet honey dew, and ants, like the sweet span of aphids, run to it from all around the ants and stand against a living predator insect that can eat a mealybug. There are frequent cases when ants even dragged the eggs of mealybugs from one place to another so that they were not destroyed.
Of course, the mealybug loves most of all precisely decorative plants, especially those with an excessively large vegetative mass, that is, banally overfed with nitrogen, weakened, with reduced immunity. And it does not matter whether they are in open or protected ground (greenhouses, hotbeds, etc.). However, in an ordinary garden, the pest is sometimes rampant.
Preventive measures against mealybug
So, if you want a mealybug to not get on your site before you buy a young seedling, carefully examine it if it has painful spots. Further, after purchase, the plant must be quarantined, that is, place it somewhere at a distance and observe it. Usually, if the plant is infected, then males of this pest may appear near it, they will freely move around the site and carefully examine the twigs and leaf blades.
Of the more effective than a simple inspection, preventive measures include the organization of a periodic warm shower (watering with a temperature of about +30 degrees) and rinsing with water with a temperature of about 50 degrees of windows in a garden greenhouse.
Naturally, we must not forget about the removal of dried and damaged parts of plants for some reason. If you notice plants that are only occasionally damaged by a mealybug, then you can remove it with ordinary tweezers or brush it into any container with a hard brush. Plants, which by their nature have a fairly dense epidermis, however, without wax coating, must be treated as follows: a brush previously moistened with kerosene, dip in alcohol or a normal soap solution for a couple of seconds and wipe all green parts of the plant with this brush.
A secondary control measure against a mealybug is the destruction of anthills located there. Ant hills can be destroyed in three ways - pour them with boiling water, which is not humane at all, use insecticides, which, among other things, can also harm the environment, and simply collect all the ants in a dense plastic bag and take them far out of the site, and release it there (a more humane way).
Ordinary sticky traps help to cope with the mealybug. Given the biological peculiarity of male mealybug males flying into the light at night, all that needs to be done is to fix sticky strips near the light source and leave the latter on for the whole night. Males stick to these strips, you only have to periodically update these strips.
Folk remedies for mealybug
We talked about some popular remedies, and we will name a few more. For example, a solution of laundry soap is a very effective folk remedy for controlling a mealybug. For these purposes, you can use either 18-20 g of antibacterial soap, or a half of laundry soap and dilute it all in a liter of water. The resulting solution should be allowed to infuse for a day, then dilute it twice and treat the plants affected by the mealybug, with an interval of once every 8-9 days.
Another option for a natural remedy: you need to take 150 g of dry horsetail and pour 1.5 liters of boiling water, then bring it to room temperature and, without diluting, you can begin to treat the affected plants.
A very good option is a mixture of a liter of water and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, you can spray plants directly with this solution.
Those who used the following method speak very well of it: it is necessary to take a solution of soap chips, grinding about 10 g of soap on a grater, then pour it with a small amount of water (0.5 liters) warmed to room temperature, mix thoroughly and add as much water to get a liter of solution also at room temperature. It remains to add about 20 ml of alcohol or, much better, vodka and mix everything thoroughly.
Before using this drug, you need to carefully cover the soil with a non-woven covering material so that the solution does not enter the soil. Plant treatment can be carried out every other day, and then it is good to water the plants by sprinkling and only after that remove the nonwoven covering material. This treatment for maximum effect can be carried out once a week.
And another quick and rather good way to deal with a mealybug: you need to take six or seven cloves of young hot garlic and chop or crush it finely, then pour the pulp in 0.5 liters of boiling water and let it brew in a closed container for 3-5 hours . After this time, the infusion must be filtered through gauze and can be used to treat plants infected with mealybug.
We fight with mealybug with the help of chemistry
If sparing folk remedies do not help, then you can safely take up chemistry, alas, no other way. The maximum effect from the use of chemicals can be observed at a time when the pest is still very young, when their body is not covered with protective wax.
However, not everything is so simple: at the same time, on the same plant, you can observe mealybugs in completely different stages of their development. In this regard, it is appropriate to use insecticides not once, but three or four times with an interval of a couple of weeks, or even ten days, if the infection is especially severe.
Before applying chemistry, once again inspect the plants: for example, if there are few colonies, then it is quite possible to remove them simply by cutting off the infected shoots with scissors along with the colonies or by cleaning them with a toothbrush with dense villi, but if there are many colonies, then they will not take it away.
It is usually understood that there is offspring and it thrives when they discover the corpse of a female mealybug female, which means that the offspring may be somewhere nearby. The progeny of the mealybug is most active in the first 25-30 hours, this is the ideal time for the use of pesticides with a contact action, but it is not always possible to precisely determine the time.
Growing insects with a protective wax cover, at this time actively eat and it is difficult to exterminate them. In this case, it is most appropriate to use systemic drugs that penetrate precisely into the juvenile system of an individual, for example, Fufanon, Doctor, Novaktion, Kemifos, Tagor, Danadim, Expert and others. For greater effect, we do not recommend using the same drugs every time, it is better to change them annually.
That's all we wanted to tell you about the mealybug in the garden. If you have your own methods of dealing with this pest, we will be grateful if you share them in the comments to the article.