Date: Sat, 18 May 2002 15:42:14 -0500
From: MiriamLDavey <athena@INTERSURF.COM>
Reply-To: BB for Hummingbirds and Gardening for them in the Southeast
Subject: Re: [HUMNET-L] Powdered Bugs

>Help! Forgive my ignorance, but I'm not really familiar with this
>particular 'bug' and would appreciate advice as I am trying to remain
>pesticide free(I do attack fire ant nests). I think I obtained the
>thing[s] from some plants I got from Mizell's, unfortunately, as I first
>noticed it on a couple I had recently acquired from them--the sit on the
>stems primarily, can actually 'hop' and are coated with what looks like
>powdered sugar--they aren't whiteflies that I'm familiar with--if a group
>is together along a section of stem one long area of confluent
>powder/almost webby forms---I have found a few on the underside of leaves
>but by far they seem to focus on stems---I have just been trying to
>pinch/squish them with my fingers but can't always be around to do that
>daily and some hop off and spread to other plants. They seem to be >prefering Salvia, and primarily purple majesty and van houtii for now--I
>haven't seen any on madrensis or greggii---but I would appreciate any
>suggestions someone may have to be more efficient--and does anyone know
>what these are? They are large for aphids and don't look like
>aphids--they look more like nematodes or snails but with coating--I can't
>distinguish eyes or antenna or such--


The powdered-sugar looking critters that resemble slow-moving sand tarts
are probably mealybugs. Aren't they cute? Fitting name, huh? If you can't
crush enough of them with your fingers, then spray the affected plants'
stems and leaf undersides with insecticidal soap. Also, you can spray with plain thumb-pressurized garden hose. You might have to do it more than
once or twice.

Leaf hoppers are another insect that suck the life out of some of our
garden plants, and like mealybugs and scale, can spread plant diseases.
Isn't there a leaf hopper that is white and powdery like a mealybug? I
have sprayed them with soap, too. If they are really numerous, and your
plants are wilting and even getting diseased-looking despite pressure
washing and soap spray, you might think about using an insecticide. My
organic gardening reference suggests a pyrethroid insecticide, but I'm not
sure it's any better than a short-half-lived synthetic chemical.
Pyrethrums are pretty potent, despite their plant derivation.