Can you Drown Mealybugs? Best Alternative Methods

Are you tired of dealing with mealybugs infesting your plants? Want to get rid of them without using harsh chemicals? Drowning mealybugs could be one of the many effective and natural ways to control their population and save your plants from damage.

If this is the method you are going with, you need to know how to do it, which can be tricky in certain circumstances. Mealybugs are tiny insects that can infest a wide variety of plants, causing damage to leaves and stems.

However, you can use many other methods to get rid of these pesky pests, such as using neem oil with water or other recommended pesticides to get rid of mealybugs. With some effective tricks and techniques explained below, you’ll be able to take control of your garden and keep your plants healthy and happy.

In this blog post, we will explain how to drown mealybugs and other steps you need to take to ensure that you successfully get rid of them.

So, if you have a mealybug infestation, keep reading to learn more about this easy and effective method for ridding your plants of these pesky insects. Grab your bucket and get ready to send those mealybugs to the bottom of the sea!

Do mealybugs drown?

Mealybugs are insects; like most insects, they can drown in water. However, mealybugs are often found in dry, warm environments and do not typically live in areas where they are likely to be submerged in water.

Some species of mealybugs can survive for short periods submerged in water, but they will eventually drown if they are unable to reach air.

While they can survive in a damp environment, they do not swim and will drown if submerged in water for a prolonged period.

They have adaptations such as air-retaining structures in their bodies that allow them to survive being submerged in water for a limited time. However, if they are submerged for too long, they will drown. They need to be able to come to the surface to breathe. If they can’t do that, they will eventually drown.

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Can you drown mealybugs in soapy water?

It is easier to drown mealybugs in soapy water. Mix a few drops of dish soap with water in a bucket and submerge your plant for some minutes. However, to avoid damaging your plants, you can mix a few dish soap with water in a spray bottle, and spraying it directly on the mealybugs can suffocate and kill them.

However, it is important to note that this method may only partially eliminate a mealybug infestation and may need to be repeated multiple times. It is also important to thoroughly inspect and treat the surrounding area to prevent re-infestation.

The soap helps to break down the waxy coating on their bodies, causing them to dehydrate and eventually die, making it easier for them to be submerged and drown.

However, it is important to note that this method may not be effective for large infestations and may need to be repeated multiple times to achieve control.

Additionally, it’s important to be mindful of the plants and surrounding environment, as excessive use of soap can damage some plants. You can use mild soap or insecticidal soap to avoid damaging any plants when going with this method.

can you drown mealybugs

How long it takes to drown mealybugs

Drowning mealybugs is a relatively quick and straightforward process. Still, it’s hard to give an exact timeline as it depends on various factors, such as the size of the infestation, the species of mealybugs, and the method you use to drown them.

One of the fastest ways to drown mealybugs is by mixing water and dish soap. You can spray the mixture directly on the affected plants and let it sit for about 15 to 20 minutes. After that, you can rinse the plants with clean water. The mealybugs should be killed and fall off the plant.

Another method to drown mealybugs is by submerging the affected plant parts, such as leaves or stems, into a container filled with water and dish soap for 30 minutes or an hour.

It’s worth mentioning that after you drown the mealybugs, it’s important to keep monitoring the plants to ensure no new mealybugs have come to replace the ones you killed. Also, drowning mealybugs could have a negative effect on the health of plants if overused.

It is best to use a mild soap or neem oil solution and apply it directly to the infested plants.

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How to get rid of mealybugs

Instead of drowning your plants in water and risking damaging them, you can resort to using other effective and less risky methods. Some of these methods involve using household items, which are analyzed below. There are several methods for controlling mealybugs on plants. Some possible methods include:

Use insecticidal soap:

Mealybugs are sensitive to soaps, and insecticidal soap can effectively control them. Spray the soap solution on the affected areas and repeat the treatment after 2-3 days.

  • Mix the insecticidal soap with water according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It is recommended to mix 1-2 tablespoons of soap with a gallon of water.
  • Spray the solution on all plant surfaces, including the leaves, stems, and soil. Be sure to cover the entire plant, including the undersides of the leaves.
  • Repeat the treatment every 3-5 days until all signs of mealybugs have disappeared.
  • To prevent future infestations, regularly check your plants for signs of mealybugs and treat them as soon as you notice them.

Remember to avoid over-watering, as this can create a humid environment conducive to mealybugs’ growth.

Neem oil:

Neem oil is a natural insecticide that can effectively control mealybugs. Mix neem oil with water and apply it to the affected areas; repeat the treatment after 7 to 10 days.

  1. Prepare the solution: Mix 2-3 teaspoons of Neem oil with 1 liter of water in a spray bottle. Shake the bottle well to mix the ingredients.
  2. Apply the solution: Spray the solution on the affected areas, covering the leaves and stem’s top and bottom. Be sure to reach all nooks and crannies, as mealybugs tend to hide in these areas.
  3. Repeat the process: Repeat the treatment every 7-10 days for at least 2-3 weeks to ensure that all mealybugs have been killed.
  4. Monitor your plants: After the treatment, keep an eye on your plants and check for any signs of new infestations. If you notice any mealybugs, repeat the treatment.

Note: It is important to avoid spraying the solution on hot or sunny days, as it can cause leaf burn. Also, Neem oil can harm beneficial insects such as bees and ladybugs, so avoid spraying when these insects are active.

Use rubbing alcohol:

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use rubbing alcohol to get rid of mealybugs: First, ensure you have all the necessary materials: rubbing alcohol, a spray bottle, and water.

    1. Start by mixing one part rubbing alcohol with one part water in a spray bottle.
    2. Shake the bottle well to ensure the solution is mixed.
    3. Spray the solution directly on the mealybugs, covering all areas of infestation.
    4. Leave the solution on for at least an hour before rinsing off the plant with water.
    5. Repeat the process every two to three days for about two weeks.
    6. Be sure to also check for eggs and remove them manually if necessary.
    7. Keep an eye on the plant for a few days after treatment to ensure all the mealybugs have been eliminated.

It’s important to note that using rubbing alcohol can be harsh on the plant and may cause damage to the leaves. It’s recommended to use this method on a small scale and observe the plant’s reaction before applying it to all plants.

Also, test a small area of the plant first before applying it to the entire plant. In addition, It’s important to note that this method may not completely eradicate the mealybugs; instead, it can help keep their population under control.

Introduce beneficial insects:

Beneficial insects can be a natural and effective way to control mealybug infestations. Some examples of beneficial insects that can be used to control mealybugs include:

  1. Ladybugs: Ladybugs are known to consume large numbers of mealybugs and other soft-bodied pests.
  2. Green Lacewings: Green lacewings are also known to feed on mealybugs and other soft-bodied pests.
  3. Predatory Mites: Predatory mites such as Phytoseiulus persimilis can also be used to control mealybugs by consuming the eggs and nymphs.
  4. Parasitic Wasps: Parasitic wasps such as Anagyrus pseudococci can also control mealybugs by laying their eggs inside them, eventually killing them.

It is important to note that introducing beneficial insects may take some time before seeing the full effects of controlling mealybugs. They will need to establish a population and begin reproducing. Additionally, it is important to use an Integrated Pest Management approach and not solely rely on beneficial insects.

Diatomaceous earth:

Diatomaceous earth is a powder made from the remains of fossilized algae. It is a natural powder that can control mealybugs on plants. The powder is abrasive and absorbs the oils and fats from the exoskeletons of insects, causing them to dehydrate and die.

To use diatomaceous earth to control mealybugs, follow these steps:

  1. Mix the two tablespoons of diatomaceous earth powder with one litter of water.
  2. Apply this solution directly to the affected plants, covering the entire plant, including the undersides of the leaves.
  3. Repeat the treatment every three days until the mealybugs are gone.
  4. Once the infestation is under control, continue to apply the paste to the plants once a week to prevent the mealybugs from returning.

It’s important to note that diatomaceous earth can be harmful to pollinators and other beneficial insects, so it should be used with caution in outdoor gardens. Additionally, diatomaceous earth can be harmful if inhaled, so protective masks and goggles should be worn when applying it.

Use sticky traps:

Sticky traps can be used to trap mealybugs and help to control the infestation. Place the traps near the affected plants and monitor them regularly to see if they are trapping mealybugs.

Use hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is a colorless liquid that contains hydrogen and oxygen. It is a powerful oxidizer and can be used as a disinfectant, bleach, and cleaning agent.

Hydrogen peroxide is available in different concentrations, the most common being a 3% solution. This solution is safe for plants and can be found in most drugstores and supermarkets.

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) kills mealybugs by disrupting their cell membranes. Like all living organisms, Mealybugs have a protective layer of lipids (fats) surrounding their cells. This layer helps to keep the internal contents of the cell safe, but it also makes the cell vulnerable to certain types of chemicals.

When hydrogen peroxide comes into contact with the mealybugs, it reacts with the lipids in their cell membranes, breaking them down and causing the cells to leak. Below are the steps for using hydrogen peroxide to get rid of mealybugs:

  1. Start by mixing a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water in a ratio of 4:1 (4 parts water to 1 part hydrogen peroxide).
  2. Using a spray bottle, apply the solution directly to the mealybugs and the surrounding area. Be sure to spray the underside of the leaves as well, as this is where mealybugs often hide.
  3. Allow the solution to sit for about 10-15 minutes. During this time, the hydrogen peroxide will dissolve the waxy coating on the mealybugs, making it easier for them to dry out and die.
  4. After the solution has sat for a while, wipe down the leaves with a damp cloth or sponge to remove any dead mealybugs.
  5. Repeat the process every 3-5 days until you see no more mealybugs.

Note: Be cautious when using hydrogen peroxide on sensitive plants, as it can cause damage. It’s best to test a small area first to see how the plant reacts before applying it to the entire plant. 


In conclusion, mealybugs can be effectively drowned by immersing the infested plant in water for some time. However, it is important to note that this method may not completely eradicate all mealybugs, and follow-up treatment may be necessary.

Additionally, drowning mealybugs may not be suitable for all plants, and care should be taken to ensure that the plant can tolerate this treatment. Other methods, such as insecticidal soap or neem oil, can also control mealybug infestations.

It’s essential to monitor your plants regularly and keep a close eye on the development of mealybugs to intervene as soon as possible. Moreover, it’s important to keep the plants healthy and provide proper care in the long term.

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