You can recognize an infestation with mealybugs by the cotton-like white webs of wax that the pests use to protect themselves from their predators. The oval, up to seven millimeters long animals with the characteristic transverse grooves mainly cling to the leaves of the boxwood and suck out the nutrient-rich sap there. In addition, mealybugs, like other plant suckers, excrete honeydew, which in turn attracts fungi and often leads to the transmission of infections. Infested leaves turn yellow, shoots wither and wither, and in the event of severe infestation the growth of the whole plant can be inhibited.
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Mealybugs multiply rapidly
Mealybugs have to be fought quickly and again and again as they multiply rapidly. The animals lay their eggs, which are surrounded by a waxy shell, in the warm season. A female mealybug alone produces up to eight generations with more than 100 eggs each year. These are extremely resistant and can survive even at temperatures down to minus 40 ° C.
Regularly checking the boxwood for pest infestation is an important and not to be neglected task anyway and for various reasons. You can still collect individual animals by hand or dab them with a cotton swab dipped in neem or rapeseed oil or in high-percentage alcohol (e.g. vodka). If the infestation is already more advanced, this procedure is recommended:
- Spray the plants completely with a preparation based on neem oil or rapeseed oil.
- The infested boxwood should be soaked so that the agent drips from the leaves and shoots.
- Shade the boxwood, as treating it with oil in a sunny spot can cause burns.
- Cut back heavily infested stocks, otherwise the animals keep coming back.
- For box trees cultivated in pots, repotting in fresh substrate is also recommended.
If you discover white wool threads on your boxwood, it could also be the boxwood leaf flea. A typical feature are the spoon-like bent leaves.