Mealybugs making a meal of my mint

Mint, self-seeded between concrete pavers.

Mint is supposed to be one of those indestructible plants. Google “growing mint” and you’re met with cheers (or jeers, as the case may be) such as “a cinch to grow!”, “perfect for beginners” and “so strong it can be invasive.”

So why does mine look like it’s on its deathbed? Its bottom leaves are yellowing and falling off. The remainder look curled and brittle. Yet just a few doors down from me, my neighbour has mint sprouting up between their pavers. Hrm. Maybe I should give up gardening and start a mommy blog.

The dastardly mealybug at work.

Except, looking closer, I notice little bugs that look like miniscule albino hedgehogs. They’re tiny, fuzzy white critters, obviously the cause of my mint’s struggle. Turning to the interweb, I find out that I am the not-so-proud owner of mealybugs, so named, I learn, “because the white wax on their bodies makes it look like they were rolled in flour.” Nice. A type of scale insect, mealybugs feed on plant sap, weakening or even killing the host plant. Which is why it’s a good thing they’re attacking my mint, because it’s up for the fight. A non-beginner plant might have given up the ghost.

Sadly, I’ll probably toss out my mint, because mealybugs are supposedly difficult to get rid of, organically or otherwise. Maybe my neighbours will spot me a replacement.

BTW, Hanna has a great post on mint and the origins of its Latin name: mentha.

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