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Bugs on palms

I have several palms that are both indoors and outdoors and of varying variety, i.e., Alexandria, silver date, triangular, Chinese windmill, cocoas, kentia. The plants are all in their juvenile stages at the moment (around 15-30 cms high) and are in pots. The problem lies with a bug infestation on the leaves and stems. These bugs are small, round (around 2-3 mm) white, dome shaped bugs, sometimes being brown in the middle. I visited a plant centre and was told that they are mealy bugs and was given Confidor spray to eradicate them. This spray does not seem to be working and the bugs keep returning to the palms. Could you please provide some help regarding this problem?


These bugs are scale insect and are quite common on palms. Spray with Conqueror Oil (also known as Protector Oil) and Confidor mixed together. Because scale insect have a hard shell, it is hard for the spray to penetrate on its own; the Conqueror Oil gives improved control. Repeat spray at 8-10 day intervals.

Alternatively, a systemic spray such as Orthene can be used. A systemic spray is one that is absorbed into the plant and carried in the sap. The spray is ingested by the insect when it feeds on the plant, and so does not rely on contact with the insect, giving better control. Repeat sprays will be required at 7-10 day intervals. Orthene has an unpleasant smell and should not be used indoors.

Conqueror Oil and Confidor should be effective.

UnitecAdvice by Dr Dan Blanchon from Unitec's Diploma in Sustainable Horticulture and Bachelor of Resource Management.

Reproduced with permission from NZOOM Home and Garden content,
from the previous website of  TVNZ News

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Last updated: June 27, 2005