white substance on my string of pearls

Asked August 16, 2016, 9:22 PM EDT

I noticed small flying gnat-like creatures around the area where I keep my succulents on my baker's rack. When I inspected my succulents, I found a white powdery substance all over the roots and surface of my string of pearls plant and some gnats flew out! This white substance has also attached itself to many of the strings hanging down in between the pearls. The plant looks healthy otherwise. I moved it outside but obviously don't want to keep it outside as I live on the coast in Northern California. What is this and what do I do? Thank you!

Mendocino County California plant disease

1 Response

Hello,
if you are able to attache any pictures, I can be more specific- but it sounds like you have some insects in your plant.
There are several insects that can be associated with "white powdery substances"- whitefly, scale, and mealybugs.
If you tap the plant and tiny white flies come out, most likely it is whitefly.
there are many species of scales, some of which produce a white powdery substance that obscures their bodies and makes them hard to recognize as insects. Likewise for mealybugs.
The good news is these are pretty easy to control. If the plant is small enough, covering the soil with a plastic shopping bag, you can dip the plant into soapy water and gently run your fingers over the plant to remove the white stuff. Or, you can spray soapy water onto the plant. I prefer the first method because it removes the white powder better.
Soap works against these insects by clogging their breathing holes. So it is actually necessary for the soapy water to make direct contact with their bodies. There are also insecticides available for these insects, but it would be better to know for sure which you were dealing with.
I hope you find this information helpful, Nicole