Yard and Garden: Control Scale and Mealybugs in Houseplants

January 16, 2020, 1:27 pm | Richard Jauron

Most houseplant problems are due to poor environmental conditions or poor, inconsistent care. However, indoor plants are also prone to insect pests. Scale and mealybugs are two common insect pests on houseplants. Horticulture specialists with ISU Extension and Outreach share information on these pests and how to control their spread. To have additional questions answered, contact Hortline at 515-294-3108 or hortline @iastate.edu.
Scale Infestation
Houseplants with small “bumps” on the stems or covered with a sticky sap, are likely infested with scale insects. These small, inconspicuous insects are covered with shell-like coverings. They attach themselves to stems or leaves and suck sap from the plants. As they feed, scale insects excrete a sweet, sticky substance called honeydew. The honeydew accumulates on the plant’s lower foliage, furniture, carpeting or other objects beneath the infested plant.  
The life cycle of scale insects consists of the egg, nymph and adult stages. Eggs are laid below the scale coverings of adult females. When the eggs hatch, the nymphs crawl from underneath their mother’s scale and move a short distance to their own feeding site. The newly emerged nymphs are also called crawlers. At their new locations, the nymphs insert their slender stylets (mouthparts) into the plant and begin sucking sap. The covering or shell develops soon after feeding begins. Scale insects remain at these feeding sites for the rest of their lives.  
A small scale infestation causes little harm to healthy houseplants. However, a heavy scale infestation may result in poor, stunted growth. In severe cases, death of infested plants is possible.
Click here for full story

Share |