The Bug Geek

Insects. Doing Science. Other awesome, geeky stuff.

Photo Friday: they killed my plant (Pseudococcus longispinus)

I’ve been trying to get rid of these stupid jerk-bugs for months.

Today, I am admitting defeat and chucking my formerly nice house plant in the trash.  I figured I might as well document the little buggers before unleashing my wrath:

Long-tailed mealybug, Pseudococcus longispinus (2)

Long-tailed mealybugs, Pseudococcus longispinus, making a royal mess of my nice house plant. *sulk*

These are readily recognized as “long-tailed mealybugs”, Pseudococcus longispinus. There’s a simple little key to common mealybug pests of house plants here: Key to Mealybugs, which you can use if you find yourself in a similar situation. Because it’s important to know these things if you’re a big geek. Which I am.

Long-tailed mealybug, Pseudococcus longispinus

Stupid jerk-bugs. *sulk*

These images actually provide a fun opportunity to see how far my bug photography has come in the past couple of years.  Waaaaaay back in ’09 (before anybody read this blog, except for maybe Ted and my wife) I posted about another mealybug infestation (ironically, also on a plant purchased from Ikea, as this one was. Hmm. But I digress). You can see the old post and accompanying image here: “Mealybugs“.

That picture (ROFL) was one of my earliest bug photo attempts. It was taken about a month before I got my Raynox macro clip-on, and about 2 years before I got my flash. The before and after represents a little over two years of practice. I think I’m getting better?

(Also, does anybody have a good home remedy do deal with these?)

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11 responses to “Photo Friday: they killed my plant (Pseudococcus longispinus)

  1. Morgan Jackson March 30, 2012 at 10:00 AM

    Awesome pictures! I can’t say I’ve ever taken that close a look at mealybugs before, but I certainly will in the future!

    As for dealing with them, I think that you can use horticultural oil for mealybugs (you can buy it at Canadian Tire or other such places). I believe that mineral oil might also work. Of course I’ve never been good with plants, so I don’t have first-hand experience with either treatment.

  2. Don Parsons March 30, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    Sorry to see your infestation, try horticultural oil, insecticidal soap, or neem oil, they should help. We’ve got lots of aphids, scale insects, and of course mealybugs down here. Carpenter ants don’t help things along, they are actually “herding” all the plant juice sucking insects.

  3. Ted C. MacRae March 30, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    Ha – serious difference in photos. These are great!

    Don’t give up hope yet. Take a Q-tip swabbed in alcohol and swipe off as many of the little turds as possible, then religiously (the only context in which I use this word) apply insecticidal soap for at least a month. Not only will this clear up the infestation, but in the meantime the plant will look SHINY!

    In a strange way, I sort of miss the rantings of a disaffected government employee who thought nobody was reading :)

  4. africagomez March 30, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    Commiserations to you and the plant. I wipe them with a wet kitchen wipe, made easy because my infestation is on a plant with strappy leaves (Clivia). In the summer I give it a generous shower with a hosepipe outside. This doesn’t remove the infestation completely as it is very difficult to get them from the base of the plant, where the leaves are tight together. But the plant is thriving, blooms once of twice a year and I get to take a look at these weird looking insects. I also got seeds and I now have bug-free 2 yr old plant babies. I haven’t managed a photo as clear and well lit as as yours though. And these critters: white over dark green are hard to shot. Are you getting better? Sure you are! Better luck with your next mealy bug infestation, hoping you don’t get one.

  5. Susannah Anderson (@WanderinWeeta) April 1, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    I use lots of plain everyday soap and a good warm shower. (In the bathroom tub, which I scrub down afterwards to make sure all the bugs go down the drain. Better than outside, as long as the weather is cold, and most houseplants love this, even when they don’t have bug issues.)

    Then I wipe down the leaves with paper towel to get any bugs that escaped.

    • TGIQ April 3, 2012 at 2:56 PM

      The soapy bath was the first thing I tried, lol! I think my reply to Morgan explains my problem. If anyone knows a cure for THAT, I’m all ears! ;)

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