Mealybugs Insects & Bromeliads

Author: Melanie Dearringer1 Comment


Mealybugs, scientifically known as Pseudococcidae, are the most common insect found on indoor bromeliads. They damage the bromeliad by injecting toxins into the plant while feeding. As they feed, mealybugs excrete a sweet, sticky substance called honeydew. Often times, a sooty mold will grow on top of the honeydew left behind.



-Ants feed off the honeydew that mealybugs leave behind.

Mealybugs are a type of soft-bodied, unarmored scale insect. Female mealybugs are flat, oval shaped, and segmented. They like to live in dense colonies and appear as cottony masses. The male mealybug looks quite different. They are often overlooked as they have wings and look more like a fly or gnat than its female counterpart.

What to Look For

  • Cotton like patches on the plant
  • Black sooty mold
  • Yellow or dying leaves
  • Distorted or stunted plant growth
  • Presence of ants do to the tasty honeydew left behind by mealybugs


If you find yourself with a mealybug problem, you have a couple options.

If the outbreak is minor,  you may be able to get away with wiping the bugs with a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol. Each mealybug will need to be touched by the swab for this to be effective. Pay special attention to leaf axils. For larger problems, try spraying the bromeliad with a solution of mild dishwashing detergent and water. The mix should suffocate the mealybugs. You should rinse the plant to remove any soap residue as this can suffocate your bromeliad as well. Horticultural oils are also known to work well on mealybugs. Like the detergent mixture, heavy oil based solutions run the risk of smothering the bromeliad in addition to the pest and should be used as a last resort.


Bromeliad Society International
Mealybug photo credit: Malcolm Tattersall via
Featured image photo credit: Edwin M Escobar via

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One response on “Mealybugs Insects & Bromeliads”

  1. stacey says:

    I bought my plant from a fair 2 weeks ago….about a week after getting it home I noticed what looked to me to be a slug in one of the flowers (i removed it) and just tonight went & looked closly at it again & found another one (was not able to get this one) Could you help me with this because I love this plant and don’t want anything to happen to it….is there something that I should put onto the plants or the flowers to get rid of these?? is there anywhere that pictures can be seen of these mealybugs, or can you tell me if they resemble a slug…thanks a bunch

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