Last updated on August 25th, 2023 at 12:31 pm
How to get rid of mealybugs on succulents and prevent them from coming back in the future is simple, and we’ll discuss the various tips here.
Mealybug is one of the most common pests that plague succulents, and getting rid of them can be tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing. Luckily, we’ve got all the information and tips you need to effectively exterminate mealybugs from your succulents in a safe way that won’t harm your plants.
Affecting both indoor and outdoor succulents, mealybugs are small, oval-shaped insects that are covered in a white, powdery wax (hence their name). While they usually have no adverse effects on your succulents, this wax prevents air and water from reaching the plant’s roots or leaves, causing them to dry out and fall off – not only are they unattractive, but they also decrease the health of your succulent!
Fortunately, it’s easy to get rid of mealybugs once you know-how. These insects can attack almost any type of plant, and once they’ve laid their eggs in your soil or on your leaves, you have to get rid of them as soon as possible, or else risk losing your succulent plants altogether.
Don’t worry – there are several effective ways to eliminate these pests and prevent them from harming your plants in the future.
What are Mealybugs?
When looking at your succulent, you may be greeted by these little white spots. This is likely a mealybug infestation. If you’re wondering how to get rid of mealybugs on succulents, rest assured that it’s a common and relatively easy problem to deal with.
However, if your plants are suffering from poor conditions or other pests, there could be a more serious issue at hand. It’s important to assess the health of your plant before taking any steps.
What do Mealybugs do?
A mealybug infestation can be pretty destructive to your succulent’s health. They suck the sap out of a plant and as a result, leaves are not properly hydrated which causes them to wilt and turn brown. In order to get rid of mealybugs on succulents, you will need to apply an insecticide that is specifically made for plants.
Where did Mealybugs come from?
The truth is, they’re everywhere. In fact, they’re so common that most gardeners will find them on at least one plant at some point in their growing career. There are over 100 varieties of mealybug (which all belong to a single family) and can be found all over North America, South America, Australia, and Europe—basically anywhere that you grow plants.
They feed by sucking sap from the plants, leaving behind honeydew, which in turn can attract other pests like ants or wasps.
A little white insect with long waxy filaments protruding from its body; looks like it has cotton on it. Is often covered with sticky honeydew which attracts ants and wasps; soft-bodied; grows up to 1/4 inch long.
Why do my succulents keep getting mealybugs?
Sometimes, we feel like no matter what we do, our succulents keep getting mealybugs. It’s frustrating! But don’t lose hope just yet. There are several factors at play when it comes to why your succulent has mealybugs and how you can best treat them.
First of all, remember that just because a bug lives on your plant doesn’t mean you have to kill it or destroy it. Many bugs are perfectly fine on plants and even beneficial in some cases. If you think the pest is doing more good than harm, leave it be. Just monitor the situation to make sure they aren’t damaging your plant.
Secondly, make sure you are watering succulents regularly with an air-pruned container. Make sure that the soil isn’t too wet or too dry by checking daily.
Overwatering and over-fertilizing are the two most common causes why Mealybugs keep coming back to your plant.
How to get rid of mealybugs on succulents
Mealybugs are one of the most common pests found on succulent plants. They affect a wide variety of succulents, including various types of cacti, echeveria, gasteria, and more.
And because mealybug infestations start from both leaf and stem plant tissue, they can be difficult to eradicate. But there are steps you can take to get rid of mealybugs naturally on your succulent plants. First, remove any affected leaves or stems that show signs of infestation.
Next, spray your plants with water every day for 10 days in order to encourage them to produce new growth.
Finally, place some insecticidal soap in water and mix it together thoroughly before spraying over all parts of the plant.
For those who want to avoid chemicals, you can use neem oil mixed with water instead. Use this mixture once a week until mealybugs have been eradicated.
You can also use white vinegar as an alternative if you prefer not to use chemicals. Simply pour some vinegar onto the infected areas and wait 5 minutes before rinsing off. Repeat weekly until mealybugs are gone for good!
Using rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol)
Partly fill a spray bottle with rubbing alcohol, and then spritz all parts of your succulent where you found mealybugs. Be sure to cover as much of each succulent as possible.
Allow to air dry for about 10 minutes before placing back in its container. In some cases, you may need to reapply twice a week for four weeks or until all signs of infestation are gone.
A third option is using an insecticidal soap, which is typically mixed with water at the ratio of one teaspoon per one quart of water. Spray thoroughly on plants.
Wait ten minutes before allowing contact with people or pets. Some soaps will kill not only mealybugs but also the host plant. If this happens, stop using that product and try another type of insecticide instead.
When choosing a product, it’s important to read labels carefully because many commercial brands have warnings against use around food crops.
Finally, it’s important to be diligent about monitoring your plants from time to time during periods when humidity levels are high, as mealybug infestations can spread quickly when left unchecked.
Doesn’t the alcohol damage the succulent?
Perhaps one of the most common misconceptions about getting rid of mealybugs on succulents is that rubbing alcohol will damage them. This isn’t true; in fact, it works as a great pesticide and is perfectly safe for your succulents.
Make sure you only use it on adult mealybugs and not on any new growth or leaves, but don’t worry, they won’t be damaged by it. Next, soak a cotton swab with the alcohol and dab it onto the affected areas.
The mealybugs should come off after just a few seconds! It’s also important to make sure you rinse away all traces of alcohol before watering your plant again.
If done correctly, this method can be effective at getting rid of mealybugs on succulents without damaging them.
Using the ladybug
This is an extremely simple solution that can be used as a quick, but effective way to get rid of mealy bugs on succulents. Ladybugs are very attracted to mealy bugs and will gobble them up pretty quickly; they’re also helpful in keeping other pests away from your plant.
You can easily purchase ladybugs online or at your local garden center. They’ll come in packages of 5-10 bugs.
Add these to the infested plants and allow them to crawl around for about two weeks before releasing any excess ones outside. If you want to release some into your yard as well, this is fine – just make sure not too many escape back into the house!
How to prevent mealybug infestation
It’s not possible to completely prevent mealybug infestation on succulents, but it is possible to reduce their spread and limit their damage. They like dry soil, so do what you can to keep it moister.
Do not water directly on your succulents, water them in a saucer and let excess moisture drain away from your plant. This keeps all of your plants in that one spot moister longer. Once you have detected the mealybugs with your fingers or a magnifying glass, try removing them as soon as possible by gently rubbing them off with the back of your finger.
If they are only on one leaf near the base, carefully snip off the leaf right next to it (careful not to cut any leaves that are far away). If they are on many leaves, try spraying down with a diluted bleach solution (5 parts water to 1 part bleach) or white vinegar.
You can also soak the entire pot for up to an hour in a diluted bleach solution. Be sure to rinse thoroughly before replanting.
While mealybugs are a common issue for succulents, other pests might take root in your plant’s soil. These pests include aphids, scale insects, and spider mites. In severe cases, root rot can occur because of overwatering or overfertilizing. Inspect your plant’s soil to look for other types of pests.
Also known as plant lice, aphids are a common problem for succulent plants. These pests are small and can be pink, gray, or black in color. They usually show up on new growth or in damaged areas of leaves, stems, and even flowers.
These little guys excrete honeydew as they feed on your succulent’s juices and then attract wasps, ants, and other pests to come to help themselves to your plants’ bounty of nectar.
You’ll want to try hosing them off with water or spraying them with soapy water before getting rid of them with an insecticide. You may need to repeat this process every few days if the infestation is severe enough.
Gnats or Fruit Flies
If your succulent has small black gnats swarming around it, these are likely fungus gnats. They live in soil and like to lay their eggs on succulents. The larvae will feed on decaying plant matter in your soil.
These pests are rarely harmful to plants, but they do make a mess of them because they like to lay their eggs in clusters on top of leaves and along stems. Fortunately, you can get rid of them by first transferring the infected succulent to clean potting soil. Then you can use diatomaceous earth or neem oil to kill the adults and larvae that are left behind in the potting mix.
Remove scale insects by hand or with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. As an alternative, you can use horticultural oil to control these pests, but keep in mind that it could harm your plants if used improperly.
Once infected with scale insects, there’s really no way to get rid of them completely (and sometimes, not even completely). But if caught early enough, scaling can be prevented and treated successfully.
In order to protect the plant, check new plants before introducing them into the garden.
Ants on Succulents
To keep ants from taking over your succulents, simply spray them with some cayenne pepper. While they won’t be able to stand it, neither will you. Before doing so, though, make sure that you’re using a potted plant and not a piece of an existing one.
Keep in mind that the best way to get rid of ants is to treat the area where they’re coming from; if you have any ant hills nearby, pour boiling water or use borax (which kills on contact) around them and leave for a few days. If ants are being attracted by your plants’ sugar water, try mixing in some vinegar or dish soap instead.
For a less toxic, safer option to getting rid of spider mites, try dusting your plants with diatomaceous earth. Diatomaceous earth is made from fossilized ocean creatures, which means it contains tiny razor-sharp teeth that can literally cut through bug bodies.
This is great for any bugs you don’t want on your succulents, including ticks and fire ants! Plus, it’s totally safe for humans and pets. But if the infestation is bad enough, use Neem oil spray or pesticide instead. If the problem doesn’t go away within a week, call an exterminator.