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A q-tip dabbed in rubbing alcohol will help, but once you have mealies in a tank, all you can really do is manually control the population by squishing them with said q-tip (or just your fingers) regularly. You might try adding green lacewings, but total eradication is unlikely unless you have only a very small population in there, stay vigilant about squishing, and are really lucky.
 

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Dendrobates tinctorus "Patricia"
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Not that the advice helps now, but I guess for others who see it, this is a pretty good example of one reason why all incoming plants should be quarantined and sanitized.

What is the feasibility of rebuilding the viv? If you can take it down to hardscape, clean it well, and replant after sanitizing all the plants in a bleach dip, you have a really good shot at eliminating the pests in one go, but that's a lot harder if you have established epiphytes or a really complex setup. It also means livestock would need to be temporarily housed elsewhere.

Another thing that can help if a partial teardown isn't an option is heavy pruning to make it easier to find and kill individual bugs. Any plants that will tolerate a good trim can be headed back to minimize hiding spots for pests, and old leaves can be removed from many crown/rosette plants. I'd suggest considering adding a hide or two for the livestock though, and be ready to temporarily adjust misting to account for the reduced foliage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
That's what I was afraid of. Was hoping maybe someone found a magic bullet. I think I might just remove everything and clean it up outside of the enclosure and then replant everything. Thanks anyway.
 

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I tell yeah…the alcohol swab or neem oil techniques mentioned above will help spot treat, but depending on the level of infestation removing everything may be needed. A looong time ago I had a major mealy bug infestation. After using the aforementioned techniques to spot treat failed, I stripped my viv of all its plants. I soaked them in a bleach: water solution, gentle soap, sprayed with rubbing alcohol and rinsed them. Then tossed the majority of my substrate. After doing everything besides setting my viv on fire… I still had mealy bugs. Mine was an extreme case. Hopefully yours isn’t.

From then on I always treat my new plants with water/bleach soaks prior to adding them to my viv.

If you haven’t yet, I’d suggest reading up on their lifecycle. It’ll help you better understand what you’re up against.
 

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It is possible to buy ladybugs that predate on any type of mealybug. They are not cheap though and I don't know how they would work in a terrarium setting, especially if your goal is elimination.
Probably best to tear down and rebuild.
 

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If you do tear down, I would recommend looking into the life cycle (I think it’s 60 days for mealies), bleach dipping plants, baking the soil and hardscape and bagging it up in sealed bags, wiping down the whole setup with alcohol, then waiting for a full life cycle before reintroducing anything.

I have successfully dealt with root mealies with a systemic and quarantine, but you can’t use systemics with amphibians and they aren’t as effective in a terrarium setting where it’s hard to make sure every plant has the insecticide in its system.
 

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Root mealybugs are fully capable of surviving the full wash, bleach soak, rinse, and dechlorination soak process that most of us use to treat plants before placing them in a tank, by the way.
What makes you say they can survive bleaching? What dilution and for how long? Are you talking about plants that have tight crevices between roots and leaves?
 

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What makes you say they can survive bleaching? What dilution and for how long? Are you talking about plants that have tight crevices between roots and leaves?
Experience. I am very meticulous in my cleaning, yet I have had root mealies show up in a tank. I wash first in a solution of dish soap and water, giving a 10-30 minute soak there before rinsing well, then bleaching.

I use a solution of 10% bleach for 10 minutes.

No. They hitched a ride, I suspect, on a Sinningia, from which I'd even removed all the living leaves and roots and used only the corm. Root mealies are TINY, and seem to prefer tender plants like gesneriads and begonias. The reason I suspect the Sinningia is due to my mother plant being especially affected, and not having seen them in my collection until I acquired that plant.

I've been told that a dunk in rubbing alcohol is sufficient to kill them before placing them in a tank, but with some plants, I worry that adding that step to the process could be too desiccating. Root mealies have a lot of waxiness and can survive submerged for a significant length of time, much like scale, which is how they manage to survive this process.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I wonder if one of the synthetic or semisynthetic pyrethrins would be safe to use since frogs have the same neurotransmitters as us and much different than insects? Even if it were to get absorbed it should be nontoxic to all vertebrates. Any thoughts?
 
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