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Thursday - June 11, 2015

From: Phoenix, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Cacti and Succulents, Shrubs
Title: Will cochineal insects washed from cactus plants harm adjacent Oleander?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Will mealybugs (cochineal insects) power washed off prickly pear cactus harm adjacent oleander plants if the white fluff gets on the oleander? My neighbor asked me to power wash my prickly pears and then became hysterical because some of the white stuff got on to her oleander. I washed it off the oleander but she's still upset.

ANSWER:


Cochineal insects and mealybugs are both described as scale insects, and the names are used interchangeably by some.  However, they are members of different families of insects.

Cochineal insects are in the family Dactylopilidae, and the best known are in the genus Dactylopius  (Dactylopius coccus) because of their production of the red dye carmine. They primarily occur on priclky pear cactus (Genus Opuntia spp)
Mealy bugs are in the family Pseudococcidae, and there are over 30 species that attack a wide variety of plants, including both Opuntia and Oleander.

Power washing your Opuntia is one method of removing the cochineal insects from the plant. The Cactus Doctor  offers other remedies.The white fluff that got on the Oleander may be of little consequence since the scale primarily grows on cactus plants. However, you may have had mealy bugs growing along with the scale, and there is an Oleander mealy bug  that could be a problem. This link to gardenweb.com  has suggestions for dealing with mealy bugs.



 

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