Spotting Scale Insects On A Cactus & Dealing With These Pests

scale insects on cactus featured image

Everyone loves how low-maintenance cacti are, but sometimes they get unexpected visitors – like the scale insect. These tiny bugs can be tricky to spot, but if they settle in, they can be a headache for your plant. Wondering how to catch them before they become a more significant issue? This article will walk you through spotting these pests and share tips on giving them the boot.

Signs Of Scale Insects Invading Your Cacti

Scale insects seem to look quite similar to mealybugs on cacti. Therefore, you will have to take a closer look. Here are some signs that scale insects might be bugging your cactus:

  1. Small Bumpy Spots: These can be white or brown and are the bugs themselves. They look like tiny shields on your cactus.
  2. Sticky Stuff: It might be the case if your cactus has a thin layer of sticky matter (which sometimes attracts ants).
  3. Sick-Looking Cactus: If parts of your cactus are going yellow or look droopy, the bugs might be causing it.
  4. Black Gunk: This is mold that grows because of the bugs. If you see it, you’ve likely got scale insects.
  5. Tiny Cotton Balls: Some scale bugs look wrapped in cotton. If you see this, it’s a clue.

Solutions For Your Recently-found Scale Insects

Let’s break down some solutions for your freshly-found scale insects: 

  1. Soap and Water: Mix a bit of regular dish soap with water. Use a cloth to wipe your cactus gently.
  2. Rubbing Alcohol: Use a cotton ball with some rubbing alcohol to touch the bugs and they will stay away. But don’t use too much!
  3. Friendly Bugs: Believe it or not, ladybugs are scale insects’ nightmares. If you see them around, they’re on your side!
  4. Neem Oil: This is like a natural bug spray. Mix it with water and gently spray your cactus. It can help keep bugs away.
  5. New Soil: Old soil can be like a comfy home for scale insects, giving them all they need to settle in and bother your cactus. Remove your cactus, shake off the old dirt, and put it in a fresh cactus soil mix!

Does the removal process bother you? If the answer is yes, the next section is for you!

Try These Preventions To Encounter Scale Insects Less Often

Now, most of us wish we never had to see these pests again. Or at least less often. Why don’t we try these preventions?

  1. Fresh Soil: Changing your cactus’s soil more often makes it less inviting to scale insects or pests in general.
  2. Check New Plants Carefully: Inspect closely for bugs before introducing a new plant to your collection. On the other hand, if you spot a cactus with scale insects, separate it from the rest.
  3. Regular Cleaning: Gently wipe the cactus with a damp cloth occasionally to remove dust and possible pests.
  4. Good Drainage: Ensure your pot has proper drainage. Stagnant, wet soil can attract bugs.
  5. Encourage Natural Predators: Beneficial insects, like ladybugs, will help keep the population down.


Tiny bugs like scale insects can still bother them. It’s always good to give your cactus a look-over now and then. With what you’ve learned here, you can catch these little pests before they cause too much trouble. Is that everything you need to know about scale insects on cacti? Let me know if you have more questions.

More pests on cacti in other posts from SucculentCity:

Succulent City chief editor


Succulent City

Hey everyone! Welcome to Succulent City! We are all about succulents, cacti, and a bit about air plants. Ten years back, in 2013, we began the journey with succulents. It started as a simple hobby, crafting and selling charming succulent-themed pins and decorations. But as time passed, our fascination with these remarkable plants grew, and we gained extensive knowledge about them. Therefore, Succulent City is the blog as you see it is now. Enjoy your visit and happly planting!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Posted in