Elephant ear plant

Our elephant ear plant is under attack of mealybugs.

Mealybugs tend to congregate in the moist and protected parts of plants eg in dense foliage, where leaves and stems meet, near buds and growing points, the underside of leaves and places where fruits touch each other or foliage. Some will also invade the soil and attack forming shoots or roots.

Mealybugs are slow moving but are commonly carried about by ants. Ants will actively farm mealybugs to ensure a continuing supply of the sweet honeydew. They also fight off predatory insects which would normally eat mealybugs.

If found these solutions:

Mix 1/2 cup of ordinary rubbing alcohol with 1 quart of liquid soap. The alcohol helps strip away any waxy coating on the mealybugs so the soap can penetrate and kill them. Wait 20 minutes after spraying, then rinse the plant with water. Repeat, if needed, every three days.

Wipe with a Damp Cloth:
This is an excellent method for getting rid of mealy bugs. Take a clean cloth and make it wet. Squeeze out the excess water because the cloth must be damp. It must not be dripping with water. This wet cloth can be used to wipe all the leaves from top to bottom. This will remove the bugs and their eggs from the plants. This method is used only if a couple of plants are infested.

Spray Soap Water:
If the damp cloth method is not effective enough, then you can use soapy water. This is prepared by mixing one tablespoon of soap with 2 cups of warm water. Pour them in a spray bottle and spray them on the plants. The soapy solution penetrates through the waxy layer and kills these bugs. You can even use a mild soap without any additive or fragrance because such soaps can be harmful to the plants. Soap can give a patchy look to the leaves. So, spray some water after the soapy solution dries.

Isopropyl Alcohol:
Isopropyl alcohol is another effective treatment for mealy bugs. All you need to do is to take some cotton swabs and dip them in alcohol. Now take these cotton balls and wipe the part of the plant that is infested. Bugs die as soon as they come in contact with the chemical. This method is very effective, but can be time consuming. If there are large colonies of bugs on the plant, then pour the alcohol directly on the bugs. Never use alcohol in excess amounts as it can be harmful to the plant.

Soap, Alcohol, and Water:
To make the treatment more effective, mix liquid soap, alcohol and water together. Mix water and alcohol in equal proportions. You can make about half litre of the above mixture. Take one tablespoon of liquid soap and mix it in this mixture. Spray it on the infested plants. The deadly combination of soap and alcohol is very effective as it works well by destroying the pest completely. You can keep spraying this mixture at regular intervals for killing them completely.

Apply a Little Oil:
Oil is another thing that is useful to get rid of mealy bugs. This thick oil causes the pests to suffocate and die. To make it more effective, you can combine one gallon of water with oil solution along with two tablespoons of vegetable oil. Apply this mixture on the plants once a week. Continue this till the infestation is under control. Apply the mixture thoroughly on the plant as the bugs may hide below the leaves and undersides of the plant.

Use Natural Predators:
You can also control these bugs by using predators like the ladybugs, lace wing, spider, etc. These insects can be purchased from stores that specialize in pest control products. They can be ordered on-line as well. Release few insects at a time. Be careful of the ants as they feed on the honeydew that these bugs produce. These ants protect the bugs for continuous food supply.

A mixture of vinegar, hot sauce, and garlic. These can be applied on the plant to control infestation.
You can also use jalapeño juice or cayenne pepper mixture with hot water, and Tabasco sauce. Spray them on plant and watch mealy bugs die.
Another safer alternative for liquid washing soap, is peppermint soap because these woolly aphids hate the strong smell of peppermint. You can also use murphy’s oil with water.