Mealybugs follow-up: treatment suggestions from readers

In response to my recent post about mealybugs on our Aloe 'Erik the Red', several readers have emailed me with suggested treatments. I’m sharing them below in hopes they will benefit other mealybug victims as well.

Citrophilus mealybug (Pseudococcus calceolariae), one many mealybug species
Q. Holdman, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

 Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol

MS: 70% isopropyl alcohol is a good treatment for mealybugs, and I’ve been using that on some of the other plants that I’ve seen them on; it’s cheap to buy and I pour it into a spray bottle.  So far, it seems to be working. 

JC: Maybe rubbing alcohol, works great for my aloes or perhaps Sevin.

MV:  I use the Bayer solution on all my succulent plants about twice a year…but I also use the 70% alcohol treatment.  I liberally spray the affected plant daily as the eggs hatch hourly.  Sometimes this works but I usually do not have success with tight-leaved plants like Echeverias. 

 Dawn dish soap

RH:  The silver bullet for me has been a little Dawn dishwashing soap mixed with water in a spray bottle. While it’s a manual process, it’s pretty easy and I’ve found that my mealy bug issue is usually resolved after one or two applications. I soak all the foliage (and infestation areas) and voila – problem solved, without resorting to harmful chemicals. I’ve never seen any issues with the soap damaging a plant.

 Sulfur powder

AM: If you ever want to try a supplement to/alternative to imidacloprid (which I love for keeping our blue agaves free of weevils) I have had amazing success dissolving the cheap garden sulfur powder into a pressure spray gallon, really zizzing up the mix, and forcefully blasting at cochineal beetles on the prickly pear as well as the pyracantha, which has always been susceptible to spider mites. 

 Mealybug destroyers

TM: I was discussing mealy bugs with a cut flower farmer recently and he said he used Mealybug Destroyers to good effect. He said that once they were done with the mealybug, they moved onto aphids.

Another option for the trunking aloes is a band of Tanglefoot around the base. It’s an impenetrable barrier for ants. We used it on our fruit trees in years past.

Speaking of mealybug destroyers...

I had never heard of mealybug destroyers before so I did some research. Cryptolaemus montrouzieri is a ladybug relative endemic to Australia. The females lay their eggs among the egg sacks of mealybugs. The larvae feed on mealybug eggs, and the adults eat actual mealybugs. Cryptolaemus montrouzieri was brought to California in 1891 to control the citrus mealybug and has been highly effective. It also preys on closely related mealybug species and some other soft scale insects. 

Mealybug destroyer larva, looking remarkably like an actual mealybug!
Photo by Jeffrey W. Lotz, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services,, CC BY 3.0 US <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Mealybug destroyer adult
Photo bGilles San Martin, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Green Methods has an excellent description of what mealybug destroyers are and what they do. You can also buy them from there (100 for $39.95). Even Amazon sells mealybug destroyers! I will definitely try them next year.

© Gerhard Bock, 2021. All rights reserved. To receive all new posts by email, please subscribe here.


  1. My #1 enemy is the mealybug... I want destroyers too!

    1. I'll get some mealybug destroyers in the spring. And I'll make a better effort to control ants.

  2. I generally rely on blasting them with a hard stream of water, resorting to alcohol when things are really bad. I'll keep the mealybug destroyers in mind, though!

  3. I use multiple strategies to keep them under control however, try and steer clear of the chemicals as they usually kill more beneficials than the mealybugs. Observation is always key to avoiding out of control infestations.


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