I have a couple of jade and dwarf jades on my windowsill, and I think they've been infested with mealy bugs - I had an infestation about a year ago, on a different plant, and I think it spread to the jades.

The mealy bugs have spread to a couple of plants, but on most of them I spray with water and dish soap and it seems to have killed all of them. But on the jades on the window sill, it looks like ants are tending the mealy bugs, and because the jade's leaves are so close together, I can't really get at them with the dish-soap-and-water spray like I could on the other plants. What do you do in such cases?

Also, I have to say, I'm worried that what I have might not even be mealy bugs- I've included a few pictures, so tell me if it's something else that just happens to be white and similar-looking. I'll try to add better pictures as soon as I succeed in getting them in focus.

This picture is of the jade, with what I think are the mealy bugs hiding in between the leaves (it got worse when they flowered):

jade with little white mealy bugs?

This picture is of a different plant (I don't know what it's called) in which the same pest appears only sporadically and can be more-or-less controlled by a soap-and-water spray. You can see one in the very center:

Different plant with only a few of the white pests on the leaves

Here's another shot of a jade with them on it. You can see the ones that are exposed, on the leaves, but there are more beneath those which are the ones I've been having trouble with.

Another jade with bugs on it, and more we can't see beneath the top leaves


3 Answers 3


Your succulent looks like it could use some cleaning up of dead flowers...what I see is too much wetness between those leaves, maybe some botrytis as wet plant material decomposes. It is hard to see 'mealy bugs' from your photos. White fly? I would provide more aeration by cutting off flowers as they decline and before they drop into the plant and soil. I would use NEEM oil to get rid of insects. Great product but please read label and check to see if neem oil is ok to use on specific plants. The other plant you've included is a Coleus. It does better with a moister soil but the succulent should completely dry out before watering. I water my indoor plants in the shower, let them drip dry and put them back where they belong. Cleans off insects, dust and I don't water until the soil has dried out. Neem oil is also used as a leaf shine, possibly adding a measure of protection for transplanting stress but I only use it for infestations of soft-bodied insects...hope this helps!


I had several jade plants attacked by identical looking bugs. I set them outside in a shady location. My local spiders ate all of them over the course a summer.

That may not work for you :)

Plan B: If your soil surface is firm enough (*) you can try holding the jade plant pot and all upside down and dunking the leaves and stem to the soil surface into a tub of the same soapy water that you used before. Then spray with fresh water to cleanup. This should clear out unreachable nooks and crannies

(*)To stabilize the soil surface press nylon hose into the soil surface when you water. After a few water/press in/dry cycles the soil should stay put even when inverted.


First of all, it's not a jade plant but a kalanchoe species as in the photo below.


The name of the plant isn't important but the insects are. Looking carefully at your photos, I can see mealybugs in several places in all three. They're notoriously hard to to get rid of completely. What stormy said about your plant having botrytis is true too.

This may not be the advice you want but I'd toss the plant, and soil too, into the garbage. Scrub the container, if you want to keep it, throughly and rinse with some bleach in water to make sure all mealybug eggs are destroyed. Any special or expenexpensive with firm or tough leaves (like yours), I'd first isolate far from other plants or outside and then treat it with horticultural oil or neem oil. I've found that only oil will penetrate the waxy coverings of mealybugs to kill them. Treatment needs to be repeated in a couple of weeks when any eggs that might've been miss hatch. Even after that, the plant needs checking every week until you're sure all mealybugs are truly gone.

Often sites mention isopropyl alcohol or insecticidal soaps being effective against mealybugs. I honestly never have found them effective. I foolishly bought a plant one time and didn't put it by itself away from my other plants for a couple of weeks. (It's recommended to do so in case it may have any disease or insect not yet showing.) It had mealybugs and when it became evident, they'd started spreading to plants next to it. I vainly used both alcohol and insecticidal soap - thoroughly too - but fought a losing battle. Eggs and insects can hide in the space where leaf joins stem, in the soil, under the pot rim and in cracks in your windowsill. When you think you've got rid of them, you find them showing up again after a few weeks. Of all insects, I hate them just a little less than the blood-sucking ones.

Your coleus (the middle photo) has soft easily bruised leaves. Treatment for mealybugs will damage the leaves and plant beyond recovery. I would also dispose of it and replace it. They're not expensive or hard to find.

Sorry to be such a downer but mealybugs are the devil to get rid o!

  • I ended up using a pesticide that's injected into the dirt with a syringe, and it pretty much killed them off. Today the plant is still alive, though with less leaves.
    – Eyal
    Commented Jun 18, 2017 at 9:16

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