Common Succulents Bugs and Pests: Treatment and Control
Do succulent attract bugs? Definitely!
Anyone who has succulents knows they are bound to attract pests and bugs at one point or another.
Despite maintaining optimal conditions for their growth such as proper sunlight, drainage, and even fertilizer, your succulents can still get infested.
While some bugs are good for your plants, others are invasive and can actually infect all of your other plants in the process.
Pest infestation might not be obvious at first as these bugs are good at hiding but eventually your succulents will show signs like discoloration and looking sickly.
While these pesky bugs can be frustrating, it is possible to treat your succulents, rid them of bugs, and have them regain their health.
Here are some common pests that bug succulents and how to treat them.
1. Mealy bugs
Mealybugs are one of the most common pests that infect almost all succulents. Some feed on the stem and leaves while some live under the soil and feed off the roots. They are tiny, almost about 2-3 millimeters long and they are gray or light brown in color.
These bugs produce white waxy or mealy substance, from which they get their name — mealybugs.
Mealy bug treatment:
Mealybugs are easily spread from plant to plant so keep the infested succulents away from the rest of your garden.
Take some rubbing alcohol and dilute it with clean water. You can either dab the solution onto the bugs or spray the succulent using a spray bottle.
Make sure to use the alcohol directly on the bugs wherever you see them and also on the white fluffy substances.
If bugs are on the roots, we recommend you completely unroot the plant and wash off the soil and roots.
Aphids are those tiny little black or green monsters that drink sap from your succulents. They also produce sugary substances which encourages the growth of mold.
Aphids prefer to attack the tender parts or new growth of succulents.
Usually, spotting ants on your succulents serves as an indicator that aphids are on their way.
Normally, aphids are easy to take care of. Just blow them off with a fast running water from a hose.
However, make sure the stream isn’t so powerful it hurts your succulent. Repeat as necessary until the aphids are completely gone.
If the problem persists, spraying the succulent with soapy water or insecticidal soap should get rid of the aphids.
Spraying the succulent with neem oil is also an effective method to get rid of aphids. Neem oil is a 100% natural remedy and does no harm.
3. Spider mite
Succulents store a high concentration of sweep sap in their leaves. Spider mites love to suck on this sap.
Spider mites are usually red and produce webs as well, just like an ordinary house spider.
You can tell if your succulent is infested if you see yellow or brown scars forming on the leaves and stems.
Spider mite treatment:
Spider mites can be treated the same way as mealy bugs. Just take some rubbing alcohol diluted half in water. Spray the solution onto the infested area.
If your succulents have small brown or white bumps, then your succulents might have a scale insect infestation. They like to eat the sweet sap from the leaves, damaging the succulent in the process.
These insects reproduce rapidly and transmit virus infections to other plants, so it’s best to treat this infestation quickly.
Use your hands or clean tweezers to remove any visible insects on the plant. You can also use hose to wash away some of the insects.
Again, like with mealybugs and spider mites, you can use diluted rubbing alcohol or dish soap to spray on the infested areas.
Scale is harder to treat, so you plan on repeating the steps above several times.
5. Fungus gnats
Fungus gnats are one of the most common pests in not just succulents but all kinds of houseplants. Gnats are especially drawn to moist soil so overwatering your succulent creates their ideal environment.
Gnats breed easily and swiftly and even though gnats do not possess much harm, it can be troublesome to get rid of them.
Fungus gnats treatment:
Since gnats are attracted to moisture, the preventive measure would be to not overwater your succulents and not let them stand in water for too long.
A simple fix: sprinkling cinnamon powder on the soil is a tried and true way to get rid of gnats.
How to Prevent Pest Infestation
It is always better to not have any problems than to have one and solve it, right? So, you can also take a few preventive measures to save your succulents from bugs.
- Use mild fertilizer once a month in growing seasons, usually spring and summer. You can stop the feeding after autumn.
- Always remove dead leaves. They act as a hiding and breeding spot for most bugs.
- Keep the soil dry. Wet soil might attract mealybugs, mites, and other pests.
- Never reuse soil from the infected plants. This soil might contain invisible eggs as well as bugs.
- Remove weeds and other foreign plants.
- Spray with natural neem oil occasionally.
Introduce beneficial bugs to you succulent
One way to combat unwanted bugs from munching away on your succulent is to introduce their natural predators that possess no harm to your plants.
Ladybugs are not only cute but they eat your succulent’s enemies like aphids, mites, scale and mealybugs.
You can attract them into your garden by using ladybug nectar. Ladybug nectar is something you can make at home.
First, take 1 part sugar and mix it with 10 parts water. Then, soak a cotton swab in the solution and place it on the pot.
Alternatively, you can also soak raisins in plain water for at least 5 minutes, pat them dry, cut them in half and place them on the pot. Remember to replace the “food” as it disappears.
If you still can’t attract ladybugs, you can also buy them online or from your local nursery.
As we covered above, pests are a common problem for people who have succulents.
However, they can be easily treated, whether it’s misting your plant with a home-made solution or inviting ladybugs to eat the unwanted visitors.
If the above treatments don’t work it might be worth considering repotting the entire plant.
This gives your succulent a fresh start, makes it practically a new a plant, and should rid you of your pest infestation.