Common Knowledge About Pest Control For Succulents – Protecting Your Succulents By Getting Rid Of Bugs & Pests

Succulents seem to be growing in popularity these days. They’re modern yet classy-looking, and they can be placed both indoors and outdoors. But like regular plants, succulents are exposed to nasty bugs that urge them to hunker down into their soil and leaves. Unfortunately, this isn’t something you can avoid, but you can take steps to heath eliminate and prevent them from recurring. This article will touch on that later, but first, we should understand the relationship between bugs and succulents.

Why Do Succulents Allure So Many Pesky Pests?

It’s typical for bugs to be obsessed with plants potentially. They’re soft and beautiful, and they make great hiding places. But succulents seem to attract more bugs than most regular plants do. This is because succulents contain nutrients that these pests love to consume. Not to mention they like the appearance of the succulents as well. It must feel homey to them! These pests will show up whether your succulents are inside or outside, and they are usually pretty tricky to get rid of. However, they need to be removed and treated immediately to save your plant once you notice them. But what kinds of pests should you keep an eye out for?

pests attacking succulent
Photo by Pinterest

Types of Pests To Infest & How To Get Rid of Bugs In Succulents

Depending on the type of pests you find inhabiting your succulents, there are a variety of possible ways that one could go through to get rid of them. This is necessary as each simple method may not work on the infestation, whether it’s a bigger or smaller one. Due to this, I have compiled and broken down a guide of the most common pests to be found on succulents and how owners can get rid of them at home!

Scale Insects

Scale insects can be attracted to a succulent for many reasons – overwatering, stress to the plant, new surroundings, higher humidity levels, where the plant is located, etc. Luckily, scales don’t tend to cause much harm to succulents, but they sure are annoying. That said, spotting a scale insect on your succulent is usually straightforward; however, they are one of the more difficult pests to get rid of.

Getting Rid of Scale Insects

1. Insecticide Soap Products

This is one of the best ways to eliminate scales if you want to avoid using those harmful chemicals. Insecticide soap products paralyze the pests once they reach the area where it has been applied. You must purchase an insecticide soap, pour a tablespoon of it into a spray bottle with cool water, shake it up, and spray the succulent.

2. Isopropyl Alcohol/Rubbing Alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol is a great (and recommended) solution for getting rid of scale insects; however, it will take a little longer than insecticide soap. When using this method, add about 1/2 cup of the isopropyl alcohol to a spray bottle with the remainder of the bottle filled with cool water. Shake up the mixture and spray it onto the succulent affected area. Once the scales are dead, you can use your hands or tweezers to remove them from the area.

3. Neem Oil

When it comes down to a more extensive infestation or peskier scales refusing to leave the premises, Neem Oil will be the next best option for getting rid of them. Neem Oil is much harsher on insects; however, it has organic ingredients, so it’s safe on the succulents and will only harm the unwanted pests. Using Neem Oil typically takes longer than the other alternative methods mentioned – it could take up to a week or so. When using this method, you should always dilute the Neem Oil with some cool water before applying it to the succulent.

Mealy Bugs

Of all the nasty pests to Infest succulent, mealybugs are the worst. This pest variation appears as a small piece of cotton before being exposed as a bug. Mealybugs have a consistent urge to hide in groups underneath the succulent leaves, making it difficult to find and get rid of them. They cause a lot of damage by sucking on the leaves and roots, eventually causing decay from the weakening plant tissue.

Treating mealybugs: Being incredibly hard to get rid of, treating mealybugs needs to be done by using a more potent solvent. In this case, a systemic insecticide will be the best option. When using this solution, be sure to apply it directly to the mealybug, trying not to come into contact with the succulent as much as possible. Systemic insecticides are harsh enough to harm the plant. Therefore it is recommended to clean the plant’s features afterward lightly.

Aphids

Aphids appear to be tiny green bugs. They are usually known to tag along to an infestation with ants (we’ll get to those guys later on), but that doesn’t mean they won’t show up solo at times. Like mealy bugs, aphids also like to suck on succulents for nutrients. They prefer the actual flower buds to the leaves.

Treating aphids: Aphids are more accessible pest variations to get rid of. However, treating them depends on the size of the infestation. More minor aphid infestations can usually be treated with subtle soap water in a spray bottle, while more extensive infestations require a systemic insecticide.

Fungus

Fungus is those black spots that appear, making it look like the succulent is rotting. In some cases, this fungus is a sign that the plant is rotting, whereas, at other times, it is just a warning that the succulent plant tissue is damaged or dead. Along with mealybugs, the fungus is the most common pests to find on a succulent. This pest can be caused by over-watering, bugs feeding on the leaves, and even a lack of proper succulent care.

Treating fungus: Treating fungus on a succulent is a nearly impossible task. Sure, pesticides are made primarily for fungus outbreaks and removal, but those rarely treat the fungi. Due to this, if your succulent has a fungus outbreak, it is recommended to do one of two things: remove the infected areas and re-plant the remaining healthy parts or throw the succulent away and restart with a new one.

Fungus Gnats

Fungus Gnats are much more dangerous to a succulent than the other mentioned as they can potentially kill the whole plant after damaging it. These pests aren’t so easy to find; however, the damage they can cause is noticeable. Signs of fungus gnat damage include soft, falling leaves, discolored leaves, stunted growth, and root rot.

Getting Rid of Fungus Gnats

1. Homemade Dish Soap Solution

Using a homemade mixture of dish soap and water is one of the safest ways of getting rid of fungus gnats without potentially harming the succulent. Mix a few drops of the dish soap liquid in a spray bottle with some water to make this solution. Spray the mixture onto the plants and the fungus gnats, and you want to soak the affected area in this liquid. Due to this method not containing chemicals, it will take a few days to work.

2. Use Nematodes

In short, Nematodes are a more natural approach to getting rid of fungus gnats because they can release a specific type of bacteria. The bacteria released will then feed off of the fungus gnats. This method is entirely safe for the succulents and the safety of pets, children, and other good pests.

3. Use Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth is essentially tiny sharp shapes that can harm the fungus gnats when placed on the succulent. This solution is also commonly used with other pests on succulents and is not likely to harm the succulent.

Ants

Ants aren’t as harmful as most other pests are, but they can still cause damage if they aren’t taken care of quickly. These bugs usually are everywhere, especially outdoors, giving them a more accessible entrance to the succulent. However, ants love being around most of the other pests I’ve mentioned. Thus, if you have an ant infestation, you likely have other pests occupying the succulent.

Treating ants: simple soap-based water should do the trick. Ants are relatively easy to get rid of, but they tend to be recurring. If ants keep reappearing, start using the spray every week. It is also recommended to surround the succulents with sticky ant traps to get caught before they can even reach the succulent.

Spider Mites

Unlike scale insects, spider mites tend to be more challenging to find when they’re on a succulent due to them being so small and loving to hide in the plant’s crevasses. Spider mites can damage succulents by essentially biting the plants and releasing a toxic, discolored spot in its place – these spots are usually seen as yellow or white. The only somewhat straightforward way to find these pests on a succulent is to keep an eye out for their left-behind webs, which they like to string around the succulents, stems, and leaves.

Getting Rid of Spider Mites

1. Prune the Succulent

This method is the most basic yet standard method to use. As mentioned, spider mites like to make their mark on the succulents they inhabit by biting into the stems and leaves and then leaving a literal mark of toxins. When such an occurrence happens, a few chemical-related solutions can be used to fix it; however, depending on how badly the area has been damaged, they may not even work. If that’s the case, pruning your succulents and simply cutting off the damaged areas is the best possible solution.

2. Insecticide Soaps

Once again, insecticide soaps come to the rescue for spider mites and those scale insects, and it’s by far one of the most efficient ways of removing these pests. The only difference is that adding a little bit of dish soap into the spray bottle with the cool water and insecticide soap for spider mites is often recommended. Then, shake the solution and spray it onto the leaves, stems, spider mites, and other potentially damaged areas.

3. Neem Oil

Using Neem Oil on those stubborn spider mites is guaranteed to work – and work further beyond! When applied to the affected area, Neem Oil helps kill the unwanted pests while also working within the plant’s barriers to stop potential new spider mites from spreading around. Not to mention it’s simple to use by adding the Neem Oil to a bottle of cold water, shaking it, and spraying it on the damaged spots.

Whiteflies

Whiteflies are about 50/50 when it comes to finding them on your succulent. During the night, they like to hide, while they’ll be more mobile during the day. It’s common for them to be found underneath (or somewhere in the vicinity of) the plants out of hiding leaves; however, lightly shaking the leaf will eventually make them come. As for damage done, whiteflies tend to gnaw on the leaves, causing them to fall off or become discolored – this can lead to a pause in the plant’s overall growth process.

Getting Rid of Whiteflies

1. Remove by hand or rinse them off the succulent

This method may seem obvious, but it’s worth trying for a temporary fix. Remember that this solution will not stop the whiteflies from occupying your succulents again later on; however, it is a good place-holder fix if you don’t have any other solutions.

2. Using Homemade Solutions

It doesn’t get any safer and organic than making insecticides from home – primarily when they work! With that being said, here are two easy, homemade ways to get rid of whiteflies:

One option is to use water mixed with vinegar. In a spray bottle, fill the bottle halfway with cold water and the other half with vinegar. Shake it up and spray it on the affected area. This can be done as often as needed.

The other option is to use warm water and liquid dish soap. Again, fill most of the bottle with warm water in a spray bottle. Mix in about 6-8 drops of your liquid dish soap and shake it thoroughly. Spray it on the damaged areas and, after a few days, respray it if you don’t notice a difference.

3. Use Natural Ingredients Such As Spices

Some owners may not know that almost any ingredient found in the kitchen, given its potent odor, can get rid of whiteflies. For instance, you can place fresh onions, parsley, cilantro, etc., in the surrounding area to eliminate them and potentially prevent more from inhabiting the plant.

mealybugs on a succulent
Mealybugs attacking succulent
Photo by Pinterest

How To Properly Remove A Pest From A Succulent

Typically, when a pest is found on a succulent, the owner heads straight into using pesticides. However, those aren’t always the ideal immediate solution. Although only a few of the pests were mentioned, a couple more are easier to treat. Some of the easier pests can sometimes just be removed before they have a chance to harm the plant. Other times, another method is needed. Therefore, I have provided a list of a few possible ways to help remove pests from a succulent.

  • Method 1: Using the appropriate tool, you’ll need to cut off the infected area of your succulent carefully. Analyze the rest of the plant for any straggling bugs and remove them.
  • Method 2: Use water with soap mixed in. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and spray it directly onto the bugs and infested areas of the plants.
  • Method 3: If your other attempts have not worked, you could try rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol is harsh enough to either eliminate the pests or stun them so that you can remove them (refer to method 1).
  • Method 4: When all else fails, rely on pesticides or systemic insecticides. Keep in mind that these solutions have a higher possibility of harming the succulent. Depending on the kind you purchase, you may have to dilute it – otherwise proceed to spray the solution directly onto the infestation.

Pest Control For Succulent Plants

When classic pest control is needed for those peskier infestations, know which solution is the best and most effective. There are a few pesticides that fit that category. However, one of the best is Neem Oil. Neem Oil is organically-made pest control made from seeds from a tree. This treatment is highly recommended as it suffocates the pests and makes them incapable of reproducing anymore. To use Neem Oil on your succulents, pour some into a spray bottle and mix in some water. Then, by avoiding as many succulents as possible, spray the substance directly onto the plant. This treatment does take about a week to work fully, but it is, in fact, highly effective for removing pests on succulents.

Is Pest Control Safe For Your Succulent?

This is one of the most-asked questions about saving succulents from pests. As mentioned before, some pest controls can harm succulents if they reach the plant’s features. Nonetheless, pest control is mandatory if and when an infestation on your succulent is extensive or severe. Unless a much more natural solution works better, we’ll use biological pest control shortly, but first, it’s essential to understand standard pesticides’ effects. If you need pest control, avoid the spray touching the plant. But, if it does reach the plant, don’t panic –wash the area of the plant or remove it entirely.

Homemade Succulent Pest Control

If you prefer to use a much more natural approach to getting rid of pests on your succulent plant, you could try homemade pest control. One of the best (and most recommended) homemade pest controls is a garlic-based bug spray. For this recipe, you will need:

  • 3 oz garlic (minced)
  • 1 oz mineral oil

Combine the ingredients into a spray bottle and mix it thoroughly to make this spray. You’ll need to spray the treatment onto the infested area and all over the succulent (because this is all-natural, it won’t harm your plant!). If this spray doesn’t work on the infestation, there are tips online on extra ingredients that you could add.

Defending Your Succulents With Ladybugs

Natural treatments are always better. I think everyone can agree on that, right? But what some don’t know is that succulent treatments or even prevention do not necessarily mean using substances. You can fight pests with nature! One of the best ways is to place ladybugs within your succulent. They are relatively easy to purchase, but they are also an affordable babysitter for your succulents! Ladybugs are known to feed off other pests trying to occupy their area. Even if you don’t have a pest infestation, it’s never too early (or late) to start a prevention system. With placing ladybugs, give are the days you have to keep a close eye on your lovely succulents daily.

ladybug on a leaf
Photo by Pixabay

Tips To Prevent Your Succulents From Becoming Bug Infested

  1. Try to avoid watering your succulent too much
  2. Keep an eye on your succulents daily (unless you have ladybugs, then once or twice a week will suffice)
  3. Keep up on bug and pest removal
  4. Be sure to trim off any dead, damaged, or decaying parts
  5. Consider using fertilizer for a healthier, happier, succulent
  6. If and when you need to start over, never reuse soil
  7. Keep pesticides on hand
  8. Get rid of the large infestations asap

Final Words

I hope that this read has provided you with some helpful tips To keep your succulents happy and healthy. Now, you have many ideas on getting rid of pests properly, like a pro! Many more potential pests weren’t mentioned in this article, as are other ways to treat them. Remember to identify which ones are harmful and take charge of your succulent’s health by getting rid of them asap. Good luck!

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Posted in Guides & Care Tips