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Mealybugs make a meal of your houseplants

By Donald R. Lewis, Extension Entomologist, Iowa State University

Published: Thursday, December 17, 2009 3:49 PM CST

Houseplants are prone to a varied assortment of insect pest problems. Some of the most common are scale insects and spider mites. However, one of the easiest to recognize is the mealybug.

You've probably seen mealybugs at one time or another on the stems or leaves of a houseplant. They look like small white puffs of cotton or fluffy deposits of white powder. They are common on African violets, Ficus, jade gardenia, poinsettia and other indoor plants.

The body of each mealybug is oval and about 1/4 inch long. However, the soft, segmented body is concealed by filaments of white wax that cover the insect. The filaments extend out from the periphery of the body and may be up to 1/2 inch long.

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