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Causes Of Mealybugs On Plants – Full List

If you see white, waxy, cotton material on your outdoor succulents or houseplants, you may think that it’s fungi. In a real sense, those are mealybugs. These pesky little bugs can be frustrating to have on your plants as they feed on new growth on succulents.

What Causes Mealybugs On Plants

Mealybugs can spread very quickly if they’re not eliminated. These waxy bugs are caused by a variety of conditions that attract them. It can be overwatering, over-fertilizing, or even bringing the infected plant into your garden. No matter the case, these little troublesome bugs should be got rid of quickly.

Here are some of the common causes of mealybugs:

What Causes Mealybugs Outdoor?


One of the leading causes of mealybugs is overwatering. If you overwater your plants, you will not only attract mealybugs but as well as other bugs, aphids, fungus gnats, scales, and spider mites. This is because overwatering strikes the right soil moisture for such insects and bugs to thrive.

When you overwater your plants, you create high humidity levels around the plant, which bugs and other insects love. High levels of humidity arise because water will evaporate from the soggy soils around the plant; thus, creating the perfect environment for mealybugs to flourish.


Another common reason why mealybugs are attracted to your plants is over-fertilizing. In most cases, it’s not just any fertilizer but nitrogen fertilizer.

This is because nitrogen fertilizer leads to lush foliage, which mealybugs love to feed on. They suck sap from their host plants and love succulents.

Hence, you should use moderate fertilizer to avoid an excessively lush plant that attracts mealybugs.

What Causes Mealybugs Indoors?

Mealybugs are more common indoors than outdoors. This is because they prefer the humid conditions indoors to the dry and harsh conditions outdoor.

Using Contaminated Potting Soil

Planting indoors or in greenhouses allows you to have full control of the growing conditions. However, this also poses some challenges that you should handle. For instance, if you use contaminated potting soil, this means you will transfer the bugs from outdoors to your houseplants.

Make sure to inspect your potting soil and ensure it’s free from bugs, ants, and other things that may be a hindrance to the smooth growth of your indoor plants.

Fresh Produce Or Flowers From The Garden

Mealybugs may also be spread by taking freshly produced but contaminated flowers or fruits from the garden to your home. When these floors are placed next to your indoor plants, the mealybugs may spread and start feeding on them as well.

Therefore, you should always inspect the plants and fruits you bring to your home from the garden.

Fresh Produce Or Flowers From The Store

Another source of mealybugs may be from the store. If the plants or fruits you bought from the store were infected by mealybugs, you may have transferred them unknowingly to your indoor plants.

New Plant

New plants are another source of mealybugs. Before you place your new potted plant next to other houseplants, you should inspect it thoroughly. If it has mealybugs, they will spread very quickly and attack your old plants.

Before placing new plants next to your houseplants, make sure to monitor them for one week. And when you’re sure that it’s okay, you can now place it next to other houseplants.


Even though this is rare, but ants can also spread mealybugs to your indoor plants. Mealybugs produce honeydew as residue. This is a source of food for ants. Therefore, ants may bring mealybugs to your indoor plants so that they can feed on honeydew.

What Causes Mealybugs On Succulents And Plants?

Since we know what causes mealybugs to get to outdoor and indoor plants, we should also find out what causes them to attack succulents and plants.

Causes Of Plants Mealybugs

Search For Food

The first one is very obvious. Mealybugs attack plants and succulents so that they can feed on them. Although these bugs can be found on foliage, they prefer succulents. Thus, you should protect your plants and inspect them often.


As stated earlier, mealybugs are attracted to overwatering. It doesn’t matter if it’s indoor plants or outdoor plants. If you overwater your succulents, these bugs will be attracted to the humid environment.


Never over-fertilize your plants, more so with nitrogen fertilizer. The lush foliage created by the fertilizer is a food source for bugs such as mealybugs.

Infected Plants

Planting infected plants next to healthy ones is another major cause of mealybugs. When you do this, the bugs will spread quickly and give you problems.

How To Get Rid Of Mealybugs

If you’re tired of mealybugs destroying your plants, you can get rid of them with a few simple steps. However, you should stay away from insecticides as the bugs develop resistance.

1. Isolate The Affected Plant

If the mealybugs have only affected a few plants, separate them from the good ones. But if they are all over, then this method won’t work.

2. Use Water Pressure To Wash Them Away

Next, you should try to use a stream of water pressure and wash them off your plants. Nevertheless, this only applies to mild infestation. It’s important to note that not all bugs will be washed off. Therefore, you may have to repeat this procedure several times.

3. Neem Oil

Neem oil is perfect for removing bugs as it’s a natural insecticide and fungicide. It’s non-toxic, making it suitable for beneficial bugs like honey bees if your plants are outdoor. When using neem oil, ensure to dilute it and be patient as it may take several days before you see results.

4. Incorporating Beneficial Bugs

Instead of using insecticides, which may not work as mealybugs can resist them, use beneficial bugs. Visit your local store and acquire some beneficial bugs to feed on mealybugs. These include lacewing, mealybug destroyer beetle, and ladybugs. This method applies to plants grown outdoors or in large greenhouses.

5. Use Insecticidal Soap

This is the best option if the infestation is out of hand. Insecticidal soap is a short-lived natural pesticide that functions by damaging the outer layer of the mealybugs, leading to dehydration and death in hours.

Inspect Mealybug Prone Plants Regularly

If you have mealybug-prone plants in your house or the garden, you should monitor them regularly. Such plants include cactus, jade, fuchsia, and croton.


Now that you understand what causes mealybugs, you need to ensure that you use the right amount of water, fertilizer, and inspect plants from the store and potting soil. But if you already have the bugs, you should get rid of them quickly to avoid affecting other plants.

We hope that you have found all the vital information that you’ve been looking for! Since you know what causes mealybugs, you should eliminate and control the spread of mealybugs in your indoor/outdoor plants.