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For the last several years I've had a problem with root mealybugs in my containers (I'm 99% sure that's what it is - there are white deposits on the plant roots and around the edges of the containers). I disposed of some affected plants and watered others that I didn't want to lose with insecticide, which I don't like doing but it didn't seem like I had any other option. However they are still present, and I'm wondering if anyone can give me advice, as there doesn't seem to be that much information out there (it seems to be another pest brought in from the tropics, from what I can gather). Is the only thing I can really do to dispose of all my plants? Also what is best to do with affected compost? Will the bugs and their eggs be killed by composting in a bin? Or is it safe to put it on open ground and they will be killed over the winter?


Where did you get the term root mealybugs from ?-have never heard of this pest and am not sure that white deposits on plant roots equates to a pest anyway

I fear you have been googling and jumped to a conclusion

The biggest pest in containers is the vine weevil grub-now could it be that?


What you probalby have is a bad case of Root aphids. They cover themselves in a white waxy substance to protect against the moisture in the soil. They are very difficult to deal with and sadly this is one of those cases where you need to use a Systemic insecticide.

Very annoying pests too.

The white deposit in root mealybug and root aphid both look similar to what I have, but having seen the little critters, I think you're right, they're root aphids not mealybugs. Thanks for that.

Photo here in case anyone's interested.


So any ideas about the best way to deal with compost that has been affected?


Microwave, steam sterilise, flame gun sterilise.

Actually, I managed to get a photo of one and it looks more like a mealybug than an aphid to me.


Yes, root mealybug does exist, I am sorry to say. It has infested my Streptocarpus collection badly enough for me to destroy it.Sadly, I have now found it in my Orchids too.They are resistant to Provado, I discovered, as I drenched them in it, & used fly spray at teh same time, sealed them & hte plant in a ziplock bag, and 24 hours later, they were still as happy as could be.Totally unphased!

So, I have a disaster in my plant collection unless I can find an insecticide that DOES work.


Thanks, Berghill!

Every little helps.

I am hoping I have conquered them.

I have boiled & microwaved every bit of compost and plant matter before disposoing of it, and will keep a very close eye on my plants from now on!

Soaking (not spraying) with Bug Clear Ultra just about worked for me, but I think you have to be methodical about treating every plant that could have been infested. I'm also pretty sure they do not survive cold winter weather.

Thanks, Zebrina!

I think I have got them sorted now, I bare rooted every orchid, microwaved the compost, and sadly had to throw out all my Streptocarpus, after microwaving them, because it isn't possible to soak the rotball with insecticide without killing the plant in any case.I am vacuuming around every poy and plant, too.THEN I have to ... microwave the contents of the Dyson! Hard work, but it is worth it.My plants won't take cold conditions, so I really need to do it manually! Tough, eh?

I have just destroyed a huge 20 year old phormium (ordinary one) was dying off by degrees(flopping) and I finally realised it was mealybug.....did anyone notice the awful smell as well as the white powder and slime? I hadn't considered the prospect of the bugs invading other areas of the garden, how likely is that?  Ivy Green

Mealy bug is horrid. The rootmealybug doesn't seem to have teh powder part, nor the smell, but the result is the same, the roots are destroyed, so, if you get any in your house plants, don't just sling them in the re-cycle bin, or the garden ...MICROWAVE them first.


Thanks a lot Dianne 12...I will know my mealy bugs from my root mealy bugs next time! Hope you had a good weekend in the garden, it was amazingly warm here!


Are you in UK? It was a lovely day here in Staffordshire yesterday, Ivy ( I LOVE your name! very topical! Remenber, a jewellers loupe is your best defense against these nasties.

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