Mealybugs On Hoya: 3 Symptoms & Easy Prevention Tips

Mealybugs on hoyas can cause a lot of damage and eventually kill your plant if you aren’t careful.

Mealybugs should be visible to the naked eye and will cause the leaves to turn yellow and brown very quickly. Prevention is the best method for keeping them away, but for infestations, you can either rinse your hoya with water or use an insecticidal soap.

Keep reading to learn how to spot mealybugs on hoyas, how to prevent them in the first place and also what to do if you have an infestation.

What Are Mealybugs?

Mealybugs are soft-bodied insects with pink bodies covered in white, waxy material.

It’s usually pretty easy to tell when you have a mealybug infestation, as you’ll usually see lots of them underneath the leaves and on the stem of your hoya.

Although they are pretty small (1/20 to 1/5 of an inch), the female will lay up to 600 eggs in protective white masses easily visible to the naked eye.

A mealybug on the end of a plant stem
Larger mealybugs should be visible with the naked eye if you look closely enough

Mealybugs cause damage to plants by feeding on the sap, particularly from underneath leaves or areas of new growth. After feeding mealybugs leave behind honeydew residue which quickly turns into sooty mold.

Are Mealybugs Common For Hoyas?

Mealybugs are one of the most common types of pests that you will find on hoyas, alongside others such as spider mites and aphids.

The likelihood of getting mealybugs -or any other pests for that matter – on your hoya is very slim overall though. I’ve owned hoyas for years and I have only had a small issue with fungus gnats and that’s about it.

Mealybugs usually find their way onto your plants if you introduce a new houseplant to your collection that is infested with them.

They can also be found in the wild, particularly in warm and moist environments, so it’s also possible that they could find their way into your house.

3. Signs Of Mealybugs On Hoyas

Here are the 3 most common signs of mealybugs on hoyas.

1. Visible To The Naked Eye

The most straightforward way to know if you have mealybugs on your hoya is to inspect the leaves, stems and roots around the soil.

Underside of a hoya bella leaf with stem
One of my hoya bellas – Underside of leaves and stem are hotspots for mealybugs

You don’t need a microscope for this as mealybugs are visible to the naked eye, especially if eggs have been laid.

Look out for cottony masses, particularly on the underside of leaves which may have already started to show other symptoms of an infestation such as yellowing/browning or sooty mold.

2. Yellowing/Browning Leaves

One of the most common side effects of insects such as mealybugs feeding on the sap of the leaves is that the leaves will start to die very quickly.

This causes yellow and brown patches similar to overwatering but in a much more irregular pattern and over a shorter time frame.

Mealybugs can also be found in the roots, and while this is not very common for hoyas specifically it can also cause the leaves to turn yellow due to less nutrients and moisture being absorbed from the damaged roots.

3. Sooty Mold

Mealybugs will typically leave honeydew residue behind on the leaves after they are finished feeding on the sap.

This turns into sooty mold pretty quickly, which is a type of mold that thrives in honeydew and secretion from mealybugs.

Sooty mold often appears as lots of small black spots on the leaves, and on closer inspection, it will look like ash or soot, hence the name.

Sooty mold can also be left behind by aphids or scale insects as well, so it’s important to investigate further to tell which type of insect you are dealing with.

How To Get Rid Of Them: 2 DIY Methods

Here are two methods for getting rid of mealybugs on hoyas depending on if your are dealing with a small infestation or a large one.

Method #1 – Water Rinse

The first method that I always recommend is to rinse your hoya with water.

This works best for light infestations. Start by placing your hoya in your shower or sink and gently rinse water over the leaves.

If possible, hold your hoya sideways so the water can rinse off directly into the drain rather than through the soil. If this is not possible then you will need to let your hoya dry out afterwards, but this shouldn’t be an issue if you have the correct soil and drainage holes.

This process should dislodge the majority of mealybugs and can be repeated to keep small infestations away.

Method #2 – Insecticidal Soap

For bigger infestations, insecticidal soap is the best option.

There are lots of products available on the market, and these are usually mixed with water and sprayed directly onto the leaves. Insecticidal soaps actively kill mealybugs and their eggs, which is why they are more effective than a water rinse.

How To Prevent Mealybugs On Hoyas

Preventing mealybugs is much easier than dealing with them.

Here are a couple of tips for keeping mealybugs (and other pests) away from your hoyas.

Isolate New Plants

If you add a new plant to your collection you should always isolate it for a few weeks.

It can be easy to forget to do this when you start buying plants almost every week as I have done in the past, but it is worthwhile.

I recommend keeping your new plants separate for 1-2 weeks and checking the new plant for signs of pests every other day.

I would also generally check the roots for any signs of mealybugs as they can also be found there.

To do this wear a pair of gloves and gently remove the plant from its pot and wipe away some of the soil with your hands until the roots are visible.

Avoid Overwatering

Mealybugs are attracted to moist conditions, so if you needed another reason to not overwater your hoya then this certainly is one.

The easiest way to prevent this is to use the correct soil mix and only water when the top few inches become dry. These two simple rules have helped me from avoiding overwatering my hoyas for years now.

What About Dropping Temperature?

Mealybugs also prefer higher temperatures as well as humidity, so one known method for preventing them is to drop the temperature (especially at night) to below 60 °F. This is not practical for most hoyas, however, as the majority prefer temperatures between 70°F and 80°F.

If you have a variety of hoya that can handle colder temperatures, such as the hoya bella (like mine pictured above) you can drop the temperature below 60°F as a preventative measure against mealybugs.

Photo of author

About Me

Hi, I'm Joe! I'm the head of SEO and content management at Bloom and Bumble. I'm a huge plant lover and over the years my home has become more like an indoor rainforest. It has taken a lot of trial and error to keep my plants healthy and so I'm here to share my knowledge to the rest of the world.

Leave a Comment