Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

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.



 

More Shrubs Questions

What is hollowing out my rosebuds in Austin, TX?
April 28, 2012 - I recently noticed some of my rose buds had been hollowed out from the inside. I have seen no evidence of insect though. What do you think it is and how can I treat the problem?
view the full question and answer

Source for a soapberry in Pittsburgh PA
June 22, 2013 - Flower box Where can I buy a soapberry tree in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania?
view the full question and answer

Yellow-blossomed Shrub that Occurs in Arizona and Texas
May 08, 2012 - What is the name of the large shrubs you will see in Arizona with the bright yellow blossoms. They grow wild everywhere, and I also see them in the town. Could you please tell me the name of them, s...
view the full question and answer

Climbing native roses for Garland TX
December 02, 2011 - I live in Garland, Dallas County, TX and would like climbing roses on the trellis situated against my brick home. What kind would you recommend for the area and any that would be easy to care for. T...
view the full question and answer

Shrubs to stabilize steep slope in California
February 03, 2010 - Suggest shrubs to stabilize steep bank that are drought resistant and resistant to too much rain. Cape honeysuckle? oleander? bottle brush? What?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.