4 SUCCULENT PESTS: Know Them to Whoa Them!
by Lynn KirkOct 7, 2021
Fortunately, most insects aren’t that interested in succulent plants — but that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down! Every plant deserves a watchful eye, for every plant is somewhat susceptible. Besides, the earlier you spot and treat unwanted pests, the better your odds for reducing harm, infestation, and potential death.
There are 4 succulent pests that are especially pesky and persistent. Get to know them so that you can whoa them!
1. MEALYBUG. One of the most common marauders is the mealybug, and as the name suggests, it makes a meal of your plant! The mealybug’s “feeding tube” pierces the plant tissue and devours the nutrient sap. Mealybugs are white and waxy, and they hang out in clusters that resemble cottony-white webs. As the pests mature, they resemble miniature crabs (ugh!). They also secrete a sticky sweet secretion that attracts other pests.
Tip: When you spot mealybugs, do not delay treatment! One female mealybug lays up to 600 eggs … and that’s when you have a REAL problem.
2. SCALE. Another pest that takes a liking to succulent leaves and stems is the scale insect. It’s a small sapsucker, too (literally). There are many different species that all vary in terms of color, size, and shape. However, when you tap a plant leaf and small brown dots fall off, more than likely you’ve got some foes of scale. Typically, two types of scale are fond of succulents: soft scale and armored scale insects. Both have specialized protection over their bodies to help shield them from predators, as well as pesticides.
3. APHID. Green, yellow, brown or gray, this teardrop-shaped pest can truly bring you to tears because its population can magnify in no time. Some are winged, and some are not. But like its pesky peers, it's a real sucker that also expels that sugary substance. With aphids, that residue can encourage growth of sooty black mold (which promises entirely new challenges). So if you spot aphids, take action before they form colonies.
4. SPIDER MITE. If that tiny moving critter resembles a red dot and there's webbing around some leaves, you’ve probably welcomed the infamous spider mite into your plant kingdom. Once again, this insect punctures the plant cell to suck the sap (and the life!) out of plants, including your favorite succulents.
REGULAR CHECK-UPS. These are only 4 succulent pests, but they're a reminder to regularly inspect your plants’ leaves, top and bottom. Check the joints and spines, which are other preferred hiding places. Look closely at the roots for signs of rot or disease caused by pests. Also watch for yellowing or wilting of leaves. Granted, some of these signs may stem from overwatering because that faux pas promotes fungal disease and bacterial growth. But, when you spot the slightest movement, you’ve probably spotted one of these 4 pests of succulents.
DIY REMEDIES. Immediately isolate the plant(s) to prevent further spread of pests. Use a cotton swab and apply a dish-soap solution (1 tablespoon soap to 1 quart water) directly to each bug and their cottony patches (if you have that much patience!). Better yet, spray the plant using a clean bottle filled with the same solution --- or neem oil, which is a 100% all-natural alternative. Just make sure to thoroughly spray the undersides of leaves and near the roots, too. Repeat treatments for few weeks to ensure total elimination. If the pests have advanced and spread, it might be necessary to pull off leaves or cut affected branches to save the rest of the plant.
Note: Pesticide solutions can be indiscriminate, meaning they kill ‘good’ insects along with the ‘bad.’ Read the label before resorting to non-organic solutions. Also, apply oil-based solutions in the evening, since treated leaves are more susceptible to sun scorching.
Succulent Market offers these tips so you can keep your plants as healthy as ours. We also stock the proper succulent soil if you need to re-pot an infected plant, as well as hundreds of ready-to-ship succulents if you need to replace a plant (sigh).
Cheers to gardening with knowledge!