martoosaat
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Mealy Mites in my balcony Tomatoes

I've a pretty bad infestation of mealy mites. The roots are also infested, boo hiss.
My yellow pear plant is in a container box on my 4th floor apartment balcony. Unfortunately that means I don't have an ideal space for creating a full biosphere of helpful critters, with room for only a couple more plants.
Since it's not ground level, I'm not even sure it'd attract helpful bugs, but maybe?

Can you point me to some treatment ideas? I could just pull the plant, but I'd still have to deal with this on the next one, so I'd like to know what I can do to treat and prevent another infestation.

Grace and peace y'all.

Toil
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I'm assuming you have mealy bugs, and not mites?


man, root pests in containers is not an easy situation. The only advice I've heard that made any sense is a bare root transplant. But ugh! that is hard to do.

As for your "biosphere" comment, are you sure there is nothing you can do to add diversity? For instance, do you get weeds sprouting i the containers? There is no rule stating that tomatoes shall have no companions when growing in containers. Find something that will behave, or something that behaves when you mow it.

maybe an expensive option for a few tomatoes, but mealy bug predators can be purchased and released.
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martoosaat
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Location: San Diego, CA

Yeah, mealy bugs.

I'd heard the bare root transplant as well, but I'm also looking at how to prevent it for the next time around. Planning on a bare root transplant does not sound attractive!

I can add a couple plants, just not too many, certainly not what you'd normally have in a backyard garden. Under those circumstances, would any bugs want to hang out by my 4th story balcony? Also, do they have to be in the same container or can they be potted separately nearby?

Would you have any suggestions for a combo of plants that would maximize bug attraction with my limited space? Thanks in advance!

Grace and peace

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Lifestyle Lift Journey
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Mealy bugs can be brought with ants, control ants with companion plants of wormwood or tansy. But you need lots of these to be effective.
Avoid winter pruning because the sap smells attract mealy bugs. Use a soap spray at night. That's all I got. I hope this helps.

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applestar
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LLJ, while that may be a good advice for ground grown plants, I don't think wormwood or tansy are good container companions since they'll grow too big and compete with the main plant. For ants, some have suggested ground cinnamon. Also double sided tape on the container rim.

Martoosaat, you might try getting ladybugs or green lacewings -- you can buy them as natural predators. If you can put your container plants in a screened area -- e.g. secure a mosquito net over them, the predators will stay inside the enclosure. It's their larvae that do most of the munching so once the eggs are laid and the tiny alligator like larvae start crawling around, they should be able to help. Keep the tomatoes pollinated by tapping the flower trusses. Spiders are another possibility. When I find spiders in the house, I put the too bigs ones outside and the smaller ones in my indoor plants.

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Kisal
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You can dip a cotton-tipped swab in rubbing alcohol and touch each mealy bug with it, although that can be a lot of work if the infestation is severe. Unfortunately, root mealy bugs are extremely difficult to eradicate. You have to remove all the soil from the roots (destroy it!), search over the roots for the bugs and kill each one.

I hate to say it, but I think you should destroy the plant and the soil. Mealy bugs are very invasive, and spread rapidly. Remove infested plants from the area as soon as you can, especially if you're going to try to save the plant. Do the work well away from your healthy plants. The eggs and newly-hatched nymphs can travel quite long distances just on the breeze.
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