How to remove the cottony mealybug from your plants

The cottony mealybug is one of the most frequent pests that affect plants. It can be fatal, so it is essential to act in time.

Last update: 21 September, 2022

Pests in gardens and orchards are a headache. The problem is that, if we do not detect them in time, they spread and infect all plants, both indoors and outdoors. In this opportunity we will review how to eliminate the cottony mealybug in a simple and effective way.

This plague is one of the most common, although the good news is that there are several ways to eradicate it. Stay until the end and learn how to remove it.

What is cochineal and how do we identify it?

Its scientific name is Planococcus citri and is known as “cotton mealybug” or cotton, due to its cotton-like appearance. It is an insect that is found in different species of plants, preferring citrus fruit trees and vegetables. There are several types of mealybugs, such as the ribbed, the long-tailed and the gray louse, among others.

It is within the group of polyphagous pests.

This type of cochineal has an oval shape and is covered by a white or yellowish substance. Its way of feeding consists of sucking the sap of the plants it attacks.

In this way, the plant is weakened and the mealybug becomes stronger. Not only does it take away food from the plant, but it also facilitates the proliferation of viruses and fungi.

The male and female of this species of cochineal are different and perform very different functions. The female is larger and is the one who secretes this whitish substance to protect the eggs, which can number up to 2,000. The male, on the other hand, is smaller, lives for a very short time and practically his only function is to fertilize the female.

Its presence in plants is more common during the summer and spring months.. One of the main problems is that it is very difficult to detect them in an early growth phase. This is so because they tend to be located in areas of the plant that are not very visible.

Early detection of this pest improves the prognosis of the plant.

How to eliminate the cottony mealybug with natural pesticides?

Before, you will have to detect the presence of the cochineal. If you notice that the plant has yellow leaves, loses flowers and fruits and has a poor general appearance, it is likely that it has been infected. Also, the cochineal attracts ants, so you have to be vigilant in case these insects appear.

In such a case, check the back of the leaves, their corners, the hidden twigs. As soon as you notice the white substance produced by mealybugs, you have to act quickly.

potassium solution

One of the natural-type insecticides is potassium soap. Upon coming into contact with the pest, it softens its cuticle and ends up suffocating it.

paraffin oil

It is a natural insecticide that is made from paraffin. It acts by forming a film that protects the plant.

It has a long-term effect and is very effective. In general, it is widely used in crops where there are olive and lemon trees.

Diatomaceous earth

In this case, upon contact with the pest, it dries it. Although it is not the most used method to eliminate mealybugs, it is excellent to eradicate them from cacti and succulents.


The substance is obtained by mixing organic compounds of natural origin that come from certain flowers. We always recommend that you read carefully the labels of each of these products to work with the appropriate doses and safely.

How to eliminate the cottony mealybug with natural remedies?

There are home methods that you can use to combat mealybugs and keep them away from your home. We tell you some.

Oil of neem

It is a vegetable oil that has a high insecticidal power. You have to dissolve a tablespoon in a medium bottle of water and add a few drops of liquid soap. Spray the plants with this preparation 3 times a week.


For this option you will need to dilute liquid soap in drinking water and add methylated spirits. All three ingredients are used in equal parts.

Put the preparation in a spray container and apply on the affected area. As long as you do it once a week it’s fine.


This is one of the most picturesque options. The ladybug Cryptolaemus montrouzieri loves to eat piglets, so you just have to go to a special store and buy specimens of this insect. After a few days, you will have no more mealybugs.

Ladybugs that are predators of mealybugs are sold in specialized garden stores.


In this case, the suggestion is to use alcohol when watering the plants. You will use isopropyl alcohol with water and you will water the stems and leaves that you notice are sick, 2 times a month. Although it is a very effective method, it is not recommended for delicate plants, but rather on cacti.

Prevention is better than elimination of cottony mealybugs

We hope that you can implement some of these methods that we have shared with you to eradicate the pest and restore your plants to health. Remember that prevention is one of the best tools. In this sense, do not water them too much, prune them frequently and watch for ants.

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