UACES Facebook Mealybugs
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(December 2011)

QuestionMy ficus tree gets indirect light and is growing well, but it has started dropping a clear, sticky substance on my floors. What's going on and what can I do?


AnswerI would say you have one of two things happening. Sucking insects such as scale and mealy bugs could be on the plant, feeding on the foliage, and then releasing a sticky substance called honeydew. Inspect the foliage to see if you see any signs of these insects. If so, you can spray with insecticidal soap or use plant spikes with Imidacloprid in them. The other problem is called guttation. It is almost like sweating. It usually occurs when there are major changes in moisture levels and humidity. The plant loses extra water from the tips of the leaves. The moisture contains natural sugars which can be sticky and can discolor the floor. Make sure you aren’t overwatering.

(June 2005)

QuestionWe live in El Dorado and there seems to be more and more Mealybugs (I think that is what they are, white, and very good at hopping) and I wonder if you can tell me what product would be helpful in getting rid of them. Thanks for any help.


AnswerI don't think it is mealybugs, but possibly white flies or even aphids, which come in a wide range of colors. While mealybugs are white, you wouldn't see them moving. They are a soft bodied scale and only the tiny babies move by crawling. The adults form a white cottony growth around themselves to protect them from predators and insecticides. Whiteflies tend to "hop" or fly up when disturbed, and they aren't easy to control. Their two favorite hosts are often gardenia and hibiscus, but they attack a wide range of plants. Take your insects to your local county extension office for proper identification. Once you know what your insect is, they will give you some insecticide choices. If you are spraying both ornamentals and edibles at the same time, make sure the product is labeled for both, and pay attention to waiting periods from the last spray until harvest.

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