Mealybugs, you vex me!
Yesterday I blogged about the plants I’m keeping inside for the winter. One of them is a small Duvalia corderoyi, which I won at a raffle at the Sacramento Cactus and Succulent Society. Duvalia corderoyi is a stapeliad, related to both Stapelia gigantea and Huernia zebrina, both of which bloomedfor me this past summer (see here and here). Duvalia corderoyi has equally beautiful flowers, and I can’t wait for it to bloom.
Duvalia corderoyi flower. Image source: Wikimedia
Imagine how annoyed I was this morning when I discovered that my Duvalia corderoyi shows signs of mealybug infestation:
I swear the tell-tale fluffy deposits weren’t there the other day! But then, I know from experience how quickly these little buggers can multiply.
Mealybugs are the bane of my existence as a succulent collector. Some plant groups are more prone than others, but I deal with these nasty leaf suckers every summer (they thrive in warm weather). In fact, last summer was the worst I can remember. I was constantly spritzing plants in an effort to keep the mealies away.
Fortunately, mealybugs are easy to kill. You just need to spring into action at the first sign of an infestation. My remedy of choice is straight 70% isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. This works great on many succulents, especially those with a thicker epidermis. However, straight isopropyl alcohol can mar softer leaves, like those of echeverias. For those plants, it is wise to dilute it with water.
Since this is my first Duvalia I wasn’t sure how well it would tolerate 70% isopropyl alcohol. To be on the side safe, I diluted it 1:1 with water and added a teaspoon of Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap (I like the peppermint-scented variety). Soap helps break down the waxy coating that protects mealybugs so the alcohol can kill them more efficiently.
I first loosened the mealybug cocoons with a toothpick and then sprayed the whole plant liberally with my magic solution. Here’s what my Duvalia corderoyi looked like afterwards:
Nice and clean and hopefully free of mealybugs. But I’ll be on the lookout because the buggers often hide in the soil.