Mealybugs are the most commonly found pests in gardens across the world. Mealybugs, which usually infect the plant bodies, can easily be identified and contained, but when it comes to root mealybugs, they are extremely hard to detect. Getting rid of them is not only difficult but cumbersome too.
The very basic fact that root mealybugs affect the roots of the host plants makes their elimination difficult. On top of that, mealybugs produce a waxy substance through their bodies; so spraying them with insecticides is almost futile. Since the plant roots are below the ground, spraying of insecticides directly on the roots is impossible. Root mealybugs attach themselves to the roots and suck sap from them to survive. If not controlled on time, the plant is bound to die.
Signs of Infestation
Root mealybugs usually do not attack garden plants in open; they have a liking for house plants or potted plants, which is a relief for gardeners. Whenever you buy a new plant, do not immediately plant it alongside other plants. First, remove the plant from the pot and inspect its roots. If you see cotton like granules on the roots, it is a sign of root mealybug infestation.
Safest Way to Get Rid of Root Mealybugs
The safest way to get rid of root mealybugs without using chemicals is to dip the roots of affected plants in hot water, about 120 degrees F. Make sure that the temperature of hot water does not exceed 120 degree F, otherwise the plant may die. Do not forget to remove all the soil from roots before dipping them in water. If only certain roots are infected, then just cut those off and discard them safely. If the entire root system is affected, you should consider discarding the entire plant.
Use of Chemicals
The alternative method involves the use of chemicals. You can take the help of the garden store attendant to find out the insecticide that is suitable for this treatment. Remove the plant from its pot, clean the roots with water and dip it in the solution of insecticide for half an hour. This will kill all the thriving mealybugs.
The process does not end here. Completely dry out the roots of the plants uprooted. Although you have killed the live mealybugs, it might be possible that eggs of these bugs are present in the soil. Hence, replace the soil completely, wash and clean the pots and then replace the plants in the new soil.
Care for Infected Garden Plants
Now the above procedure cannot be carried out in the case of plants planted in the garden. If for some unknown reasons your plant is not looking healthy, it is probably infected with root mealybugs. However, in this case, you cannot remove plants. Here, you will have to rely on chemicals like Malathion G. Create a solution of this insecticide and water the infected plant. Malathion G is a harmful insecticide; so use it only after proper consultation.
Besides, plants such as cucumber get easily affected by Malathion G; so use it with caution. This chemical will also affect the mealybugs on plants as it will be absorbed by roots; it then enters the mealybugs through the plant sap and kills them.