Above: A great photo of a mature Mealy Bug thanks to Micheal Masiuk.

Such cute names are given for such pesky critters. Leaf miners make a mess out of plants’ foliage, while mealybugs suck plant juice and leave behind droppings. Both are relatively easy plant pests to control so let’s dig into some common solutions.

Leaf Miners: Like their name suggests, leaf miners live inside leaves and “mine” out nutrients in a white, outlined path. The leaf damage (on top of infected leaves) is more noticeable than the pests themselves, which are more likely to infest an outdoor garden or greenhouse than to travel indoors.

Adult leaf miners are black and yellow flies that lay eggs, which then hatch into maggots. It’s the maggots that burrow between leaf surfaces and dig tunnels through the tissue. While they won’t wipe out your plant like a root disease (unless nothing is done), the damage stunts growth, prolongs the flowering period and can result in smaller-than-normal sized buds.

These little buggers are hard to control due to the leaf coverage, though it’s not impossible. You can start by installing yellow sticky traps near the infected plant(s) to capture adults, removing and discarding infected leaves, smashing the leaf-dwelling maggot with your fingers or by using predatory wasps.

Mealybugs: Usually living in colonies located on stem joints, mealybugs are more common indoors and, like aphids, excrete honeydew that can encourage even worse problems, like fungal growth. They also suck juices from plants, therefore slowing growth, and are distinguished by a fuzzy, white buildup around stems and leaf nodes.

It’s relatively easy to control these nasty bugs. When first noticed, try washing them away with a hose or other steady stream of water. Or you can try using a cotton swab, dipped in rubbing alcohol, to wipe them off. Predatory pests like ladybugs also help keep them in check, along with predatory or parasitic wasps.

Finally, if you’re in the purchasing mood, an effective spray for both leaf miners and mealybugs should contain neem oil and/or pyrethrum.