Succulent Scale Insects & How To Deal With Them

succulent scale insects

Taking good care of your succulents is not an easy task. It requires patience, effort, and time. Although naturally, succulents are easy to grow plants, there are still pests and diseases that every plant might encounter. This article will discuss a specific pest that might put your succulent in danger. Continue reading this article, and let’s learn more about succulent scale insects and how to deal with them.

What Are Succulent Scale Insects?

Physically, scale insects look like oyster mushrooms. These parasites eat the sap of your succulents by attaching themselves to the stems of your plants. Generally, succulent scale insects cut off nutrients from your succulents and can eventually cause damage and kill off your plants.

Succulent scale insects secrete a fluid called hemolymph. This contains water and high levels of sugar. It is the reason why succulent scale insects are a little sticky. All types of succulent scales commonly have the same cycles and effects on a plant.

What Do Succulent Scale Insects Look Like?

These pests usually look like black spots or bumps and can cover the entire leaf. However, in some instances, scales might appear underneath the soil and feed on your plant’s roots. Among the common symptoms to know if there are succulent scale insects underneath your soil is when you start to see browning or patches around the base of your succulent.

Eliminate Scales on Succulents

What Causes Succulent Scale Insects?

Common factors that might cause succulent scale insects are poor air condition, high humidity levels, stress, overcrowding, or overwatering. As we know, taking good care of our succulents revolves around these factors.

Usually, succulent scale insects appear underneath the soil if it is overwatered. Aside from root rot, overwatering caused inappropriate and wet potting mix conditions that are a prone breeding space for scales.

Since succulent scale insects can also appear even after moving your succulents, it is imperative always to check your plant’s soil, base, and stems. Starting treatment immediately is also advisable to avoid the spread of succulent scale insects.

How Can Damage Your Plant Get From Succulent Scale Insects?

The first sign of damage is the yellowing of your succulent’s foliage. This is because the scales drain nutrients from stems and leaves. Sadly, this initial sign might kill your succulent when unattended and in severe cases.

Another damage to your plant is that it will have difficulty photosynthesizing. It is because succulent scale insects leave a sticky residue on the coats of the foliage. Therefore, it takes away some nutrients from your plant. Gradually, your plant’s moisture will decrease, wilt, and might be died.

We can conclude that regardless if your succulent is just newly infected by scales or not, having been infected already put your plant in danger. It would help if you treated it to avoid any further damage. Most succulents do not survive this situation but have patience and guidance so that your plant can still heal from this.

How To Heal A Plant Infected By Succulent Scale Insects?

There are varieties of ways how to get rid of this pest and heal your succulents. We listed both artificial and natural ways to do it on your own:

  • Use natural predators – Don’t get fully surprised, but putting ladybugs, parasitic wasps, and lacewing larvae on your succulent is recommended to avoid scales. Naturally, these predators are safer for your succulents compared to scales. Isn’t it interesting to know that other pests might save your plant for the better? Lacewing larvae eat scales, parasitic wasps lay their eggs on scales so that the larvae can eat their bodies.
  • Use insecticidal soap – Insecticidal soaps are usually made of potassium salts and water. This helps the soap dissolve fats and oils in the scales easily. This method causes paralysis on the succulent scale insects within minutes. You also must ensure that you have read the soap’s packaging instructions before using it.
  • Use neem oil – Prepare a spray bottle and neem oil for this method. This oil is an organic pesticide that kills scales. Unlike the first two methods, this one might take more time. However, an advantage of this method is that you can be more targeted in killing scales on your plant. This is crucial to avoid further damage to your plant.
  • Remove scale by hand – You may do this using a brush. Gently scrub the small brush to remove the scales out of your succulents. However, as mentioned, some scales produce sticky or waxy coatings, making it difficult to brush them off your plant.
  • Use alcohol – Same with the neem oil method, you also need a spray bottle for this one. You can opt to use 90% isopropyl alcohol or 70% rubbing alcohol. Combine the alcohol with water and spray on the infected area. The scales might take a while to die, so you might need to leave spraying until some of them physically fall off.

Read More: Common Problems With String Of Pearls Plant

Final Words

By the end of this article, we hope that you are now more ready to get rid of and avoid having succulent scale insects on your plants. As mentioned, it is crucial to check the humidity level, watering schedule, pruning, and soil of your succulents to avoid having scales. Once a year it is also advisable to repot your succulents once a year, especially if you have already noticed a too wet potting mixture. This is to avoid having scales underneath the soil and for the roots from getting infected. Allow time for the water to drain fully as wet soil is prone to scales. With proper care, extra eyes, and patience, we are confident that with the help of this article, you are now more prepared to deal with succulent scale insects. We can’t wait to see your plant thrive!


Richard Miller

Salute everyone. It's Richard, the author of this Succulent & Xeriscaping blog. I am a traveler and a nature lover looking for a connection with the wild green. In my journey, I found a love for succulents and xeriscaping. What attracts me is the long-lasting & unique beauty of every plant I have the chance to see with my own eyes. Welcome to my little blog and let's enjoy a good time together!

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Posted in Guides & Care Tips