wikiHow to Control Mealybugs on Indoor Plants

If you enjoy live plants from the comfort of inside, you may want to learn how to control mealybugs on indoor plants. Mealybugs are sap-drinking insects that can cause a great deal of damage in a short amount of time. They produce honeydew, which attracts ants and encourages the growth of fungus called black mold. Mealybugs are found in almost all growing regions on the globe. Controlling mealybugs on your indoor plants is a very important step in maintaining plant health. Mealybug infestation can occur rapidly and increase exponentially, causing a prize indoor plant to do poorly or even die.


  1. Image titled Control Mealybugs on Indoor Plants Step 1
    Check any new houseplants carefully for mealybug infestation before bringing anything home.
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    Control mealybugs on indoor plants by avoiding over-fertilization of plants. Mealybugs thrive in a nitrogen-rich soil, so be careful that you only feed your plants when necessary.
  3. Image titled Control Mealybugs on Indoor Plants Step 3
    Remove mealybugs with a cloth or paper towel, making sure that you squish them instead of just displacing them. Immediately wash out rags. If you are using paper towels, place used towels in a plastic sack and discard.
    • Remember to look for eggs sacks and remove those as well. The egg sacks will look like small cotton balls attached to the plant.
  4. Image titled Control Mealybugs on Indoor Plants Step 4
    Dab the mealybugs with a cotton ball swab soaked in rubbing alcohol to dry the insects out.
  5. Image titled Control Mealybugs on Indoor Plants Step 5
    Wash the plant with a gentle detergent and water to help control mealybugs.
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    Spray the indoor plant with an oil spray or soap spray. These sprays will suffocate or dry out the mealybugs and kill them. However, it is very difficult to get the egg sacks and crawlies that have gone into places where the spray cannot reach.
    • Spray a mealybug-specific pesticide onto the plant to get immediate results on mealybug control. Pesticide sprays, however, are only a short-term solution for mealybug control and should not be used as the only method of controlling the infestation.
  7. Image titled Control Mealybugs on Indoor Plants Step 7
    Discard the indoor plant if it is heavily infested with the mealybugs. Sometimes it may be virtually impossible to get a mealybug infestation under control, and the best course of action may be to replace the plant with one that is not infected.


  • When purchasing new plants, you may want to consider quarantining your plant for several days while you look for any mealybug manifestations. Even though the bugs cannot be seen when first purchased, an egg sack may be hidden somewhere in the packing or filler material.
  • Mealybugs are most often introduced by an infected plant unwittingly being purchased and brought into the house. Look for eggs, crawlers, and the presence of the winged adults on each plant carefully before purchasing.


  • When using a pesticide on your infected plant, do not apply a systemic pesticide to the soil.

Things You'll Need

  • Cloth or paper towels
  • Plastic bag (optional)
  • Cotton balls
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Detergent
  • Water
  • Oil or soap spray
  • Mealybug-specific pesticide

Article Info

Categories: Garden Pests and Weeds