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Mealybugs On Areca Palm – What To Do?

Mealybugs can be quite a nuisance when if infest your areca palm tree. Not only can they damage the leaves and branches of the plant, but they can also cause it to eventually die if they are not eradicated. So what do you do if your areca palm is infested with mealybugs? We've researched the best way to get rid of these pests, and in this post, we will share them with you.

Mealybugs often feed on areca palm trees and will infest the tree quickly if the plant is not treated in a timely manner. These small insects will draw the sap out of the plant's tissue, and as their populations grow up, they will cost significant damage to the foliage and the trunk of the palm. There are several ways to get rid of them, including applying rubbing alcohol, neem oil, washing the leaves, and using insecticides.

Determining the best method to eradicate your areca palms mealybug issues depends on the infestation's severity and your personal preference. It's important to remember that some methods can be safer than others, so it helps to explore all of your options. Continue reading to learn about the different ways to remove mealybugs from areca palm trees.

A detailed photo of a small Areca Palm tree, Mealybugs On Areca Palm - What To Do?

Ways to Get Rid of Mealybugs

Though areca palm trees are not succulent plants, mealybugs still love to munch on them. As the bugs feed on the palm, they'll produce a liquid substance that will then drip on the plant, causing sticky areas and encouraging mold growth. You may notice white cotton-like masses of film on the tops and bottoms of the leaves when there is an infestation. If you notice your plant's leaves turning yellow or curling at the tips, this could also be a sign that the mealybugs are starting to weaken the palm.

A small colony of mealybugs gathering on a small branch

Apply rubbing alcohol

Applying rubbing alcohol is one of the best ways to get rid of mealybugs. To use this method, soak a cotton ball or pad with rubbing alcohol and then apply the alcohol to the areas on the leaves where the infestations are located. This will remove and kill the mealybugs and any larvae that have nested on top of the leaves. It's always a good idea to first do a spot test on one leaf before applying the rubbing alcohol to the entire plant to ensure that it does not burn the leaves. Some plant leaves may be more sensitive than others, and if the infestation is severe, the leaves may be too damaged to withstand the rubbing alcohol.

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Use insecticidal soap

You can also use insecticidal soap to eradicate mealybugs from your areca plant. Find insecticidal soap at most gardening stores or online. Many insecticidal soaps are made from natural plant extracts and can kill plant pests on contact--especially soft-bodied bugs such as mealybugs. Depending on the type of insecticide that you purchase, you may need to dilute the solution with water.

If so, be sure to add the right amount of water to avoid chemical burn. Oftentimes, you'll need to apply the insecticide a few times a week for at least two weeks to fully eradicate the bugs from the plant.

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Rinse the plant in the tub

If the mealybug infestation is less severe and has not yet damaged the leaves, you can rinse the plant off with cool or lukewarm water to get rid of them. You may need to repeat this treatment a few times a week for a couple of weeks until they have completely died off. However, if the infestation is more severe, you will need to use a more thorough treatment that includes chemicals.

Apply a DIY Insecticide Spray

If you prefer to make your own homemade spray to get rid of mealybugs, there are a few different ways that you can do this. One method is to use Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Castile Soap to break down in the bugs' outer shell, causing them to die from dehydration. To use this method, simply dilute the soap with water in a 1:1 ratio and spray it on the plant's leaves. You can also use a mix of hot peppers to get rid of the mealybugs, as the chemicals in the peppers can also break down their outer coating.

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For this method, mix half an onion and one garlic clove with two hot peppers and place them in a blender or food processor. Next, place the ingredients in a quart of water and boil it for five to seven minutes. Once the water has cooled, pour it into a spray bottle and apply it to the plant. You can also add a teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the mixture if the infection is particularly invasive.

Spray the plant with chemical pesticides

There are several chemical insecticides that you can use against mealybugs. However, you'll want to make sure that these insecticides do not contain ingredients that may be harmful to your areca palm. It's also important to keep in mind that strong insecticides can also be harmful to small children and pets. Make sure to read the directions on the label carefully before applying chemical insecticides to your palm.

Apply neem oil

If you prefer a natural way to remove the mealybugs from your areca palm, consider applying neem oil. This natural substance is derived from neem trees and is a potent fungicide. Not only does the neem oil kill mealybugs on contact, but it can also be used as a systemic pesticide that you can apply to your areca palm regularly to keep it pest-free. It's also fairly safe to use on edible plants such as vegetables and fruits.

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What attracts mealy bugs?

A gorgeous Areca photographed outside a garden

Mealybugs may seem like they appear out of nowhere, but the truth is that they are attracted to moisture, which is why these bugs are especially troublesome to succulent plants. And though areca palms aren't classified as succulents, they do contain a sufficient amount of water both in their foliage and the roots of the plant. If your plant is healthy, the chances are that it may attract mealybugs at some point, especially if it's located outside.

How do you get rid of mealybugs on houseplants?

There are different ways to get rid of mealybugs, and the best way will depend on the level of infestation that the plant has. You can apply natural ingredients to the plant to rid it of mealybugs, including mixtures of hot peppers and onions or neem oil and peppermint oil. You can also use chemical insecticides as well. Lastly, if the infection is less severe, you may be able to get rid of the bugs by simply washing off the plants.

What is the fastest way to get rid of mealybugs?

The fastest way to get rid of mealybugs is to apply rubbing alcohol, neem oil, or a chemical insecticide to the plant. All of these methods will kill the mealybugs on contact and any larvae that have not hatched.

How do you control mealy bugs naturally?

The best way to control mealybugs is to keep your plants as healthy as possible. The healthier the plant is, the less susceptible it'll be to pest infestation. This starts with inspecting the plant weekly to ensure that the foliage and branches show no signs of pest infestation. It's also helpful to reduce the watering sessions for your plant if you had problems with mealybugs in the past.

Do mealybugs live in soil?

Certain species of mealybugs live in the soil. For example, root mealybugs are ground-dwelling mealybugs that will feed on the roots of the plants that they infest. These small bugs are similar to other types of mealybugs, and that they have a waxy coating and a soft body. And like other species of mealybugs, they can be eradicated using chemical treatments and all-natural treatments such as neem oil and peppermint oil.

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Are mealybugs harmful to humans?

Mealybugs do not sting, bite, or pose any direct threat to humans or animals. However, some mealybug species may spread bacteria or viruses, which can cause disease. That being stated, it's important to get rid of them as soon as possible when you spot them on your plants.

Wrapping Things Up

We hope that this post has helped explain how to get rid of mealybugs on your areca palms. Remember, it's always best to inspect your areca palm at least once a week to help keep pest infestations at bay.

Before you go, be sure to check out our other posts:

Snake Plant Leaves Turn Yellow – What To Do?

5 Common Snake Plant Diseases & Pests