Jayne and Kayla
What does a mealybug look like?
Mealybugs cover themselves in a white, waxy protective material that makes them look similar to a cotton ball. They're mainly characterized by gray, waxy thread like covered scales. Mealybugs are in the category of insects.
Problems they cause:
Mealy bugs will often cause a plant to suffer by making the appearance of the leaves wilted, yellow, and deformed.
How to know mealybugs are present
They damage plants by sucking the sap from roots, tender leaves, petioles, and fruit. They excrete honeydew which causes sooty mold to grow. Severely infested plants will turn yellow and dry up.
What will happen if left untreated?
If left untreated, mealybugs become out of control. They need to be dealt with immediately upon discovery. They will lose vigor, weaken, and lose leaves, buds, and flowers. They will also create large amounts of honeydew, causing plants to be very sticky; attracting ants.
How to get rid of mealybugs:
You must catch them early, and if you do there are many different ways to get rid of mealybugs. You could use "The Water Cure", dishwashing liquid, rubbing alcohol, insecticidal soap, or biological controls such as bids or other insects.
How much does it cost?
In theory, you won't have to spend money to get rid of mealybugs. Most treatments involve materials you would have around your house, and if by chance you don't, purchasing them would cost you less than or around $10. (dishwashing liquid, rubbing alcohol, etc.)
First, the best thing to do is use the "Water Cure". To do this, all you must do is blast them with a strong stream water. For that to be effective, you should repeat daily. This cure is a cultural control.
If that doesn't work, perhaps use natural predators such as lady birds, lace wing, wasps, or hover flies. This is an example of biological control.
Another cultural control you could try is use dishwashing liquid. This requires mixing water and dishwashing soap together and spraying the plant with that mixture. This suffocates the insect and breaks down their waxy layer.
Another thing to use is rubbing alcohol. All you need to do is spot the areas infested with mealybugs with a cotton ball soaked in the alcohol. Using rubbing alcohol could be considered a chemical control, but is probably more of a cultural control.
You could also use insecticidal soap, this is made from a mix of mild detergent and pyrethroids. A pyrethroid is an organic compound similar to the natural pyrethrins produced by the flowers of pyrethrums. You should apply the soap to the plant, the surrounding area, and the pot. This method is yet another example of culture control.