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Mealybugs on Sarracenia - will they drown?

Joined
Sep 4, 2013
Messages
29
Hey, everyone. So after years of relatively carefree keeping of a variety of US native carnivorous plants and bog flowers, I had mysterious die-off throughout the summer and fall. At first, I thought it was probably a fungus (the summer was hot and wet, anyway), but it never seemed to do much for the problem. I would see both new and old growth, only on my Sarracenia, wither and die. It would often start with individual pitchers looking dehydrated. Soon after, the base of the stem of the affected pitcher (is the correct term peduncle?) would start to rot. Sometimes, the affected pitchers would develop round spots that would expand over the course of days until the affected pitcher would be dead.

I tried pulling and/or cutting, then tried an anti fungal spray. It continued to progress, starting on one of my flava and ultimately affected almost every non-hybrid ("pure") plant I had. The condition eventually wittled my pure plants to almost nothing, and the plants that remained were in terrible shape.

Finally, late in the season, when I tugged off a pitcher from the rhizome, I recognized some mealybugs all the way at the base of the plant, tucked into the folds of pitcher growth. I don't know how I didn't recognize them earlier. At this point, I don't think the pests are progressing. Likely dormant for the cold months. They never affected ANY of my other plants...just flava, rubra, minor, purpurea, and leucophylla.

It's a tough situation, mostly since I prefer my plants to have a "wild" look, with a mix of species in each pot. It wouldn't be easy to dig out each rhizome and treat each individually, and I haven't found clear info on a safe insecticide.

Two things I have altered to my setup this year compared to the past: 1) I removed nearly all sphagnum to allow for better diversity of plants and seedling growth and 2) I no longer allowed the trays to fill to a point that the rhizome would be completely submerged.

So I've already tried experimenting with submersion to kill the mealybugs for a couple of weeks. Too early to tell, since everything is pretty much dormant already. But has anyone else tried drowning out mealybugs? Did it work? If this doesn't end up working for me, what does this community recommend for treating mealybugs on Sarracenia?
 
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Joined
Nov 4, 2016
Messages
144
Location
Providence, RI
Drowning almost never works for insects, since they can survive for weeks underwater. However, depending on how long you plan to keep them submerged you may have a better shot in this case--mealybugs can't survive permanently underwater. However, if the growing stems are still above water, I would at least also use something else. Insecticidal oil is usually a good option, and spraying the plants down daily is probably also a good idea (even if you can't see any insects, crawlers, the first instar larvae, are usually present for at least a while). For a large collection, biological control is also good, but probably not as much for a hobbyist, since the predator or parasitoid population collapses once the prey population shrinks sufficiently.
 
Joined
Jan 23, 2016
Messages
242
Imclaptomotrid works. Get one not mixed with a fertilizer. I’ve never used it, but I’ve read it’s safe. Treat them all with a drench.

Note some sort of systemic is probably necessary here. Mealy bugs can go underground and attack the roots too, and sprays, especially natural ones like neem or oils won’t harm them.
 
Joined
Sep 4, 2013
Messages
29
Thanks for the replies! Looks like I have a few options to test.

I've got some plants that are so far gone that I might try and see if drowning works on them, but a few plants I can't risk losing might need chemical intervention.

At the same time, I live within the native range of most of what I keep, and I'm in part using my bog plants to attract pollinators and other wildlife. I'll hope that over time I might be able to attract some level of biological control so this doesn't hit as hard if it is ever to return.

Looks like it's gonna be a bit of work and maybe difficult to judge progress for a few months, but y'all have provided some good advice. Thanks again!!
 
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