How To Kill Mealybugs With Alcohol And Not Hurt The Plant

So your plant has mealybugs and you want to know how to kill mealybugs with alcohol. You have heard alcohol works at killing mealy bugs, but you don’t want to hurt the plant. When mealybugs infest houseplants in small numbers, they can be easily eradicated using a mild solution (70% percent or less) of rubbing alcohol.

You can mix it 50/50 with water, spray it, or dab it on individual mealybugs full strength with a cotton swab. You may also wipe it over clusters of mealybugs, full strength, with a cotton ball. 

Killing Mealybugs with AlcoholPin

If you treat a huge group of houseplants over an extended period, spray about a quarter isopropyl alcohol and the remainder water.

Spray thoroughly once a week until you no longer see any mealybugs. 

If you find heavy infestations on potted plants and mealybugs in the soil, it’s best to simply dispose of the plants and soil and sterilize the containers.

Then, clean the area surrounding the containers with a disinfectant household cleaner or with straight rubbing alcohol. 

You can begin this process with one of the stronger solutions and then continue with a weaker spray if you wish.

No matter what strength of alcohol and water mix you use, be sure to spot test an inconspicuous area of the plant a couple of days before spraying it repeatedly over large areas.

Isopropyl alcohol mixtures can cause leaf burn. 

Are There Other Safe Ways To Deal With Mealybugs? 

There are actually many natural and non-toxic ways to prevent, control, and eliminate mealybugs.

Surprisingly, using dangerous insecticides is the least effective way of responding to them.

For outdoor plants, encouraging a healthy population of beneficial insects may be all that’s needed to keep mealybugs at bay. 

If you take your houseplants outdoors for the spring and summer, inspect them carefully before bringing them in for the winter.

If you find mealybugs, use the rubbing alcohol treatments described above to eliminate mature bugs before bringing your plants indoors.

Also, check your plants frequently and deal with new hatchlings as you find them. 

Keep Mealybugs Out Of Your Yard And Your Plant Collection

Hitching a ride on new plants is the main way mealybugs get from one place to another.

They crawl slowly and do not fly, so if you don’t help them, they usually cannot get to your property.

Whenever you bring a new plant home, take care to choose plants that are pest and disease-free.

Inspect them thoroughly before introducing them to your landscape or plant collection. 

Prevent having mealybugs proliferate in your landscape by avoiding excessive use of fertilizer containing a great deal of nitrogen. Over-stimulation of tender young growth production supports mealybug egg production. 

Of course, it is possible for mealybugs to get into your yard on blown leaves and fallen branches or other natural means. Always inspect plants in your landscape regularly for these pests and others.

Whenever you find them, deal with them by hand by picking them off or treating them with rubbing alcohol, as described above. 

Deal with large landscape infestations by blasting the plants with water. This will knock off and drown many mature bugs.

Follow up with rubbing alcohol treatments or one of the treatments listed here: 

  • After removing mature mealybugs in outdoor settings, applying neem or horticultural oil solution or insecticidal soap. This can help eliminate younger nymphs because they lack the wax accumulation that protects adult mealybugs against insecticides.
  • Chemical insecticides containing pyrethroids can be somewhat effective against large infestations of mealybugs outdoors. Still, they are also quite harmful to beneficial insects, so they should be considered a last resort. 

Mealybug Control Is An Ongoing Process

All-in-all, using natural and non-chemical methods works best to control mealybugs indoors and outdoors. 

Be advised that getting rid of mealybugs is never a single-step process. 

A combination of:

  • Hand picking
  • Treating with rubbing alcohol solutions
  • Carefully managing fertilizer formulas
  • Disposing of heavily infested plants and soil
  • Partnering with beneficial insects

… will provide the greatest and most effective protection against and eradication of mealybugs. For small infestations learning how to kill mealybugs with alcohol is a good place to start.


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