The Mealy Bugs

Paddy's dead aphids

Paddy's mealy bug impression

Paddy says that mealy bugs are pretty gross little insects resembling a big aphid with (as we can confirm) a voracious appetite for their favorite food, brussels sprouts.

Paddy's mealy bugs

Paddy's mealy bugs

As the people over at Vegetable Garden Guide say in their excellent guide on growing brussels sprouts, Mealy bugs don’t care if you’re just starting out or a veteran gardener – you had better know your enemy.

Paddy's Garden

Paddy's Garden

We were lucky enough to get a heads up from paddy on an imminent massive outbreak of mealy bugs on four out of six brussels sprout plants we have growing.

Paddy's Mealy bugs

Paddy's Mealy bugs

The mealy bugs hide out in the curled up parts of the leaves. We had at least thirty mealy bugs (and eggs) in both the newly forming shoots as well as the curled up sections of the larger leaves on the infected plants – be warned that there was no visible sign that the mealy bugs were attacking the plants until we looked uncurled the leaves

Paddy's immature brussels sprouts

Paddy's immature brussels sprouts

Whilst the unaffected plants were in a different part of Paddy’s Garden the main reason they hadn’t been attacked was because they weren’t mature enough to grow the leaves that give the mealy bugs somewhere to nest.

Paddy's Garden

Paddy's Garden

Paddy says mealy bugs can be treated just like aphids. If you want to go the organic control route then we recommend mixing up some soap and oil and spraying the mealy bugs on the plants.

Paddy's Garden

Paddy's Garden

If you want something with a bit more staying power mix up some Paddy’s Garlic Fire. As with aphids just knocking them off the plant with a hose spray is often enough to kill the mealy bugs, but it won’t do anything to repel a fresh attack.

If you like to play god, there are a number of gardening shops on the Internet that sell specialised mealy bug predators, such as Cryptolaemus montrouzieri which are from the same family as ladybugs.

HorticultureSource.com Mealy Bug Destroyers. 100 per container [IN199]

You can pick yourself up 100 of these mealybug destroyers from amazon for only $70. These insects particularly like to eat  mealybugs and when the supply of mealybugs drops they will switch their diet to aphids and will even fly off looking for food in nearby areas. A female will lay about 600 eggs within her 50 day lifetime, so a single colony of Crypts can be enough to control aphids and mealybugs for many years.

Most guides recommend placing only 5 Crypts on each affected plant to build the colon, so you may be able to share some of the Crypts (and cost) with your neighbors.

Paddy's dead mealy bugs

Paddy's dead mealy bugs

If you don”t have time to muck about use Pyrethrum or other organic insect killer spray such as Safer Brand 3-In-1 Insect Control Organic Garden Spray. You’ll need to uncurl each leaf and spray all the bugs otherwise they will continue to lay eggs and breed.

Paddy's dead aphids

Paddy's dead aphids

Because of the large number of mealy bugs on the plants this is the route we went. The spray was immediately effective at killing the mealy bugs on the plant as will go some way to repelling a further outbreak over the next few days.

Paddy's Garden

Paddy's Garden

Paddy says that it’s time to start weeding this area because the grass is coming through the gaps.

Paddy's Garden

Paddy's Garden

and here too…

Cryptolaemus montrouzieri
Posted in Pests | Tagged | 2 Comments

2 responses to “The Mealy Bugs”

  1. […] Do you grow Brussels sprouts? Watch out for mealybugs now! Some ideas how to control this pest: http://j.mp/9ywM9E Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Mealybugs on HouseplantsKeeping a Handle on […]

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