When it comes to succulents, mealy bugs are one of the most common pests. They make themselves known by the white fuzz that they leave on the leaves or spines of your succulent, and when the bugs are fully grown, they actually look like small crabs. They may appear friendly at first, and you may only see a few, but once they have identified your cactus or succulent as a great place to live, they can seriously harm your plant. If a female decides to lay eggs in your succulent, she can lay upwards of 600 of them. When those eggs hatch, they latch onto your succulent and basically suck it dry. The damage can encourage mold growth on your plants and the bugs themselves, in high enough concentration, will kill your plant.
How to Control
Use a cotton swab or the paintbrush that comes in your terrarium toolkit to dab the mealy bugs with rubbing alcohol. This will kill them without doing too much damage to your plants. Remove the dead bugs to keep things clean.
Planet Natural also has a product called Safer Soap, which is an insect-killing soap that you use to wash your plants. It will kill mealy bugs quickly by dissolving their shells. But remember that if your succulents are in a terrarium, the soap won’t have a place to drain out. Therefore, use any soaps very infrequently to prevent buildup.
If you REALLY need to use a pesticide, try Take Down Garden Spray. It’s all-natural, doesn’t linger in the environment for a long time, and it’s designed to kill most of the pests that like to attack your succulents.
If your plants are outdoors and your pest situation gets superbad, there are good bugs that you can release to eat the bad bugs. Planet Natural sells beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, lacewing and the Mealybug Destroyer (Cryptolaemus montrouzieri) to effectively eat up your nasty mealy bugs.
If you’re seeing the damage that mealy bugs cause but aren’t seeing the bugs themselves, the bugs may in your roots. If this is the case, you should remove the plants from their potting and treat the roots with one of the solutions above before repotting. Some of your leaves will die off, but usually the whole plant will recover.
- Succulentopedia: Browse succulents by Scientific Name, Common Name, Genus, Family, USDA Hardiness Zone, Origin, or cacti by Genus
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