Help Needed Identifying Plant Pests & Problems

We don’t have a very large plot of land, so don’t have a very large garden, but we do maximize where we can. Unfortunately, increasingly, we’ve got pest problems. Or, rather, since I’m the Keeper of the Plants, I’ve got a pest problem. And, honestly, I have no idea what these pests are or the best approach to getting rid of them. The kind of pests we get on plants in Canada are quite different from what we get in Sri Lanka. Gee, different climate and ecosystem, maybe? 😉

Added to that that I’m no expert anyway, plus it’s very difficult to identify pests armed with nothing more than a picture and… Well, you can see the conundrum. 🙂 I hope. 🙂

So I am seeking your help, dear gentle reader, in identifying these pests. And, if you know how to tackle them, I’d love that kind of information as well.

Picture 1 - Brown blobs possibly scale. White stuff identified as papaya mealy bug  (Paracoccus marginatus) in Sri LankaPicture 1 is of two already-dead aloe leaves. Mostly, my aloe is very healthy and reproducing at an alarming rate! But I have, on occasion, seen these two pests on it. The upper one is a dark brown and has a waxy feel. When I popped it off the leaf, it was hollow underneath.

The white one that looks a bit like a mutant crab I’m a bit worried about. I think I’ve found it on three or four plants, including in the roots of my Costus productus Costus speciosus. I’m concerned that it’s a problematic pest that’s taking over my garden.

Picture 2 - papaya mealy bug  (Paracoccus marginatus) in Sri LankaPicture 3 - papaya mealy bug  (Paracoccus marginatus) in Sri Lanka
Picture 2 and 3 shows white stuff that looks kind of like spider webs on steroids. It’s all over this one bush.
Picture 4 - papaya mealy bug  (Paracoccus marginatus) in Sri LankaPicture 5 - brown thingies still unidentified, white crab thingies are papaya mealy bug  (Paracoccus marginatus) in Sri Lanka
Picture 4 and 5 shows the same white crab thingie from Picture 1, but now on the lime tree. Picture 5 also shows brown things that looks like wood splinters – don’t know if it’s residue from dead white crab things or if it’s a different pest altogether.
Picture 6 Sri LankaPicture 7 - papaya mealy bug  (Paracoccus marginatus) in Sri Lanka
Picture 6 – unfortunately, the macro on my camera can’t get a better picture than this. It’s kind of like poppy seeds, but smaller, and they stick to the back of the lime leaves. About a half year ago, they were all over a lot of the lime leaves, but now, they’re mostly gone. They come off the leaf when I rub them off, but doing that to an entire tree is a pain in the butt.

Picture 7 shows more of the white crab things, but in webbing, which makes me wonder if the white webbing things from Pictures 2 and 3 are just a different part of the life cycle from the white crab things.
Picture 8 Sri LankaPicture 9 in Sri Lanka
Picture 8 shows the top side of a curry leaf twig. Severely discoloured & mottled. Is that a nutritional deficiency?

Picture 9 with its brownish beigish spots. What the heck?
Picture 10 - aphids? scale? Sri LankaPicture 11 - aphids? scale? in Sri Lanka
Picture 10 and 11 – again, macro isn’t very good, so this is the best I could get. Basically, green pests the same colour nearly as the stem, very difficult to see unless you get up close and very personal. It wasn’t actually until I was taking these photos that I noticed these, and I water these henna plants nearly daily! I’m guessing aphids, except the aphids I saw back in Canada were much larger, bumpier, and much more noticeable. But, you know, what do I know?

Picture 12 Sri LankaPicture 12 – the palm leaves. Is that just drought/sunburn talking? Or is some kind of pest causing this?

Any insight you have would be appreciated. Links, if you have them, for further reading, but don’t worry about Googling – if I’m given a name, I can hunt down whatever info I need to find. Theoretically. Most of the time. But names, ah, that would be most important. And ideas of how to combat this stuff would also be great.

Thanks a bunch in advance. 🙂

Edited to add:

The papaya mealy bug (Paracoccus marginatus) has been possibly identified as the pest I’ve been calling the white crab thingie, thanks to e4c5. The papaya mealy bug is a known problem in Sri Lanka currently with infestations reported in the Colombo area.

The brown blob in Picture 1 looks like a type of scale. It’s not Florida red scale – the colouring is one consistent shade of brown, no concentric circles, plus it’s oblong, not circular. Upon lifting them from the leaves, I did find what appeared to look like a hundred or so eggs beneath one of them. Otherwise, they were dead and hollow.

Had another plant that was dying – a local spinach which is not in the same family as the spinach that North Americans are familiar with. Since the plant was dying anyway, I pulled it up out of the soil – it came out surprisingly easy – and found another type of pests in the root structure.

Picture 13 in Sri LankaPicture 14 in Sri Lanka

Author: LMAshton
Howdy! I'm a beginner artist, hobbyist photographer, kitchen witch, wanderer by nature, and hermit introvert. This is my blog feed. You can find my fediverse posts at

6 thoughts on “Help Needed Identifying Plant Pests & Problems

  1. Our water pressure at the tap is extremely lousy at best. Nevertheless, still worth a try. I’ll see what else I can dig up.

    Thanks for reminding me about the papaya mealy bug, e4c5. Much appreciated. 🙂

  2. I’ve been looking at pictures, but most don’t show very much detail, but what I can see, it very very much looks like you’re absolutely right with the white crab thingies and webbing thingies are the papaya mealy bug. And your suggestion of spraying with water is also the only solution I’ve seen thus far with the exception of a specific species of wasps…

    The title, by the way, comes from the husband. And yes, he’s a Mark Twain fan. 🙂 The husband is excellent at titles, whereas I’m terrible at them. 🙂

  3. Remember how I suggested coffee on twitter? Well it didn’t work for me either 🙁 but I have found another solution – it’s not a complete solution but it can control the papaya mealy bug: Spray them with strong jets of water.

    if you get high pressure in your garden tap, use it on them. if not use a spray can. You will find that they get washed away and better still a good percentage doesn’t survive the trauma. If you keep doing it often enough, you will be able to get rid of most of it.

  4. I’m under the impression that the mealy bugs that attack the roots are a different species. I’ve read about one called root mealy bugs – yes, very imaginative naming system. 😛

    I’m not sure if that’s what Pictures 13 &14 are, or if they’re sowbugs as suggested by someone else.

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