fuzz on jade trees
February 5, 2012 9:00 PM   Subscribe

My Jade plants have some white fuzz on them and some small fuzzy bug-looking things. picture The bug looking things don't move though. Anyone know what is happening?
posted by yticmic to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
mealy bugs

I'm afraid your jade has had it, at that level of infestation. You could try wiping it down with a q tip dipped in alcohol and getting off all you can, then putting it into a garbage bag, spraying a bit of insecticide in and tying it off for 24 hours. Then repot it and change the dirt. Otherwise, get rid of it, as the bugs will spread to every plant you have.

Good luck. I hate those things.
posted by BlueHorse at 9:06 PM on February 5, 2012

Yes, mealy bugs.

I douse any newly discovered mealy-bug-ridden plant with Neem-oil-based insecticide - it can also contain pyrethrins but doesn't have to for mealys though if you're investing in insecticide it's nice to have one that works well against fungus gnats, etc as well - made for houseplant/ornamental/edible plants. And I do it at slightly higher concentrations than recommended on the bottle of insecticide (I buy ones you have to mix with water yourself).

And I do mean douse. There should be no crevice, no underside of a leaf, no top of the soil that is not coated.

And then I do it again, a few days later. And again. And again. And again.

By about the fifth time, they ought to be solidly gone. But you have to do it over and over because they lay eggs, and the babies are mobile. So you have to knock out the adults, and the babies, and the eggs, and any that you may have missed, and their babies.

If you're not able to get any Neem, you can try the slightly watered down dish soap route. Applied the same way. Slightly less effective, but with persistence it should also work.

Also - quarantine this plant. Don't let it touch or be really near other plants. Mealy bugs are not pleasant, and no plant likes to have to deal with harsh insecticide tactics, so you don't want to unintentionally allow them to spread.

Some people I know will ditch an infested plant, and you may decide to cut your losses, but I've had surprisingly good results with the Neem.
posted by vegartanipla at 9:22 PM on February 5, 2012

Yes, those are mealy bugs. I've just been getting unfortunately well acquainted with them myself, as a gift plant brought some hitchhikers that promptly jumped to and thoroughly infected two of my aloes. The adult female bugs you can see DON'T move -- they latch on to a part of the plant that seems cozy and start making baby mealies. The larvae and males, however, which are much harder to see, do move and can travel from plant to plant.

The way I have been dealing with my poor besieged plants so far is this:

1.) Use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to remove the bugs you can see one by one.
2.) Wipe all leaves and stems gently but thoroughly with a paper towel wetted with a mixture of water and gentle dish soap
3.) Spray the parts of the plant you can't reach with swabs or towels with a fairly strong stream of water to wash the bugs out.
4.) Repeat in two days when more bugs show up from the crevices they were hiding in.

This has been controlling my infestation for the past couple of weeks and keeping it from spreading to other plants, but it hasn't totally eradicated them yet. I caught a couple of stragglers just today. I may need to move on to a more powerful treatment.

Suggestions for more powerful attacks I've read online include: insecticidal soaps, homemade bug killer (mix of vodka, water and dish soap -- you'll find plenty of recipes online -- spray plant thoroughly), taking the plant outside and spraying the heck out of it with a super strong stream of water (think garden hose on high power setting) to thoroughly clean it, immersing the entire plant in water for 24 hours (which I haven't tried yet and probably won't because I'm pretty sure that would kill an aloe, but a jade might tolerate it better), or the sort of carpetbombing approach BlueHorse suggests.

Good luck! I seriously hate these things.
posted by BlueJae at 9:25 PM on February 5, 2012

Wow, this is much worse then I thought. I have about 8 Jades with varying degrees of mealybugs on them. Thankfully, I think the one I showed in the picture is the worst one, and only in spots. Most of the others are not too bad.

This was super helpful everyone! This community never fails to impress. I am going try to clean them of mealybugs per your advice.
posted by yticmic at 4:27 AM on February 6, 2012

Supporting the Neem oil treatments. It's organic, safe and easy to apply but you have to be persistent. It works well on scale and mealy bugs. I haven't found any plants that show any signs of being affected by the oil. It should be readily available at any nearby place that sells plants and plant care products.
posted by X4ster at 12:52 PM on February 6, 2012

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