Attack of Mealy Bug

mealy bug

Attack of Mealy Bug

I bought a plant from a local shop and about a week later it looked like fluffy cotton dots all over it and then the leaves started to die. What is it and how do I treat it?

This sounds like an attack of mealy bug, which are pale pink, yellow or grey insects covered with a mealy, cottonwool-like substance. They thrive in warm, moist conditions and particularly in sheltered parts of a plant, like a leaf axil (where the leaf joins the stem) where they suck the sap.

They can be tricky to remove. Try washing them off with high-pressure misting water, or physically remove them using a cotton bud soaked in horticultural oil. Be very thorough, as a small amount left behind can re-infect again quickly. 
Continue to check the plant (and other plants close by) over the next few weeks to ensure reinfestation hasn’t occurred. If you have further problems, spray with horticultural oil or neem oil.

Healthy plants can be less prone to pest and diseases so regular fertilising and attention are important to improve its vitality and health. 

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