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 Pests Questions

Century plant leaves falling over from San Antonio
April 10, 2013 - Have a large century plant about % feet tall. The leaves are falling over. Can you tell me what to do to avoid this.
view the full question and answer

Eliminating straggler daisy from St. Augustine grass in Hochheim TX
May 14, 2010 - I have straggler daisy in my St. Augustine grass. What herbicides work well on straggler daisy and won't ding up the grass too bad?
view the full question and answer

Possible damage by invasive, non-native earthworms in compost
January 03, 2007 - I received a worm bin (vermicomposter) for Christmas. The instructions that came with the bin say to use the red wiggler worm (Eisenia foetida) and that it is okay if some of the worms go into your g...
view the full question and answer

How to Control White Fungus on Prickly Pear Cactus?
July 04, 2013 - Is there any kind of spray for our prickly pear that will help with the white fungus that has appeared on it?
view the full question and answer

Doodlebugs in dead area of Coral Bean from Houston
April 10, 2013 - I have a Firemans coralbean tree about 5 years old. I discovered yesterday in the middle of the tree there is some deadwood where we have pruned out branches. A couple of the branches were filled with...
view the full question and answer

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