Indoor maidenhair fern - white substance at the bottom of dead stems, mealybug residue?


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I've attached pictures of the base of some dead maidenhair fern stems that I've clipped from the plant, but most dead stems have this to some extent.

I haven't seen any active mealybugs, but does this look like their residue? If mealybugs are the culprit, it seems like they must be dormant within the soil and I suppose I'll have to do a root soak in neem oil.
 

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That sort of looks like mealy bug residue but it could also be caterpillar webbing. If you have mealy bugs in the soil they are NOT the same type as affect plants above the soil line. They are called Root Mealy Bugs and Neem doesn't work well on them. Nasty chemicals like pyrethroids do. I really doubt if it is mealy bugs if you don't see any of them anywhere on your plants and to find out if you have root mealy bugs you must take the plant out of its container or dig into the root ball. They look a lot like regular mealy bugs but normally not as big.
 
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Thanks Chuck! I tore the poor plant's root ball up and no signs of mealybugs at all, everything looks good... guessing this is just the dead stems decomposing.
 

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