Bugs on Succulents: All you need to know

In this article, I will teach everything you kneed to know about bugs on succulents. So if you been asking your self what’s eating my succulents leaves, what mealy bug insecticide to use or how killing mealybugs with alcohol is a possibility to save your succulent.

Here you will find the answer.

I hope this will help you keep your succulent safe and healthy.

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Bugs on Succulents:

These are the main pests that can affect your succulents


Some of the symptoms that your succulent can present, due to the presence of mealybugs are bumps, hardenings, waxy secretions attached to the leaf or stem and that are seen both in more woody areas, such as green areas of the plant.

There are three groups of mealybugs:

  • Cochineals with shell or protective shield. Under this shield, which can be removed, is the insect and even the laying eggs.
  •  Cochineals with the hardened shell. It is the skin of the same insect, not a shell as before and cannot be separated. They are somewhat larger than the previous ones.
  •  Cottony mealybug. It is a waxy secretion of the same insect and moves through the plant.

This may be one of the pests that attack most succulents. 

But as they are the best known, they are also the easiest pests to control. 

You should only wash the plant with water with high pressure since the mealybugs can be expelled with a strong current of water.

Another way to eliminate mealybugs is to moisten a swab with isopropyl alcohol, then clean everything you see infected and rinse with clean water before returning it to its place. 

You can also put a couple of drops of dishwashing soap in a liter of water in an atomizer, and moisten the plant with this mixture. 

The soap will create a moist environment, breaking the waxy outer lining of many white-bodied insects. 

Then, you should rinse the plant to remove the mealybugs.

If your succulent looks bad for no apparent reason, remove the succulent from its pot and check the roots. 

Some times there is a type of cochineal that feeds on the roots of plants. 

This type of cochineal is usually the worst since they are usually only noticed when the plant has suffered.

Recommended Little Jewel Succulent

2.Molecule mealybugs

The symptoms that betray the presence of moisture mealybugs are generally; eaten areas of the plant at the substrate level, on the stem, the roots of the young shoots are also eaten. 

If the plant is in bloom, it will attack the flower bulbs.

The moisture mealybugs are oval crustaceans, which can reach 2 cm in length, with 7 pairs of legs and gray, brown or pink.

These are reproduced by eggs and are always accompanied by high ambient humidity and are hidden during the day and feed on decomposing organic matter.

This type of pest can be controlled in the same way as the other mealybugs.

3.Red Spider and Mites

As with mealybugs, mites are hard to see with the naked eye. 

But we can notice through the symptoms if our succulents are being attacked by this type of pests.

 The symptoms produced by red spider attacks are; yellowish or grayish spots appear on the upper side of the leaves, all over the leaf. 

On the underside of the leaves, a fine spider web is observed, where reddish or even yellow or greenish mites dwell, these mites can only be seen using a magnifying glass.

Because of the bites of these insects, the plant has a leaden, dull appearance, brown or yellowish spots and begin to contract with malformations, which greatly weakens the succulent.

The main factors that cause the production of mites are the heat and dryness.

These types of pests are difficult to control, but not impossible. 

To eliminate these pests, the first thing you should do is separate the infected succulents from the healthy ones, to prevent the plague from spreading further, then spray the plant with some commercial product, special to eliminate this type of pest, such as Acaricides.

4. Caterpillars and worms

Another type of plague that can attack our succulents are caterpillars and worms.

Some caterpillars eat the leaves and young shoots produced by the plant. 

Other caterpillars remain between or inside the stems and leaves of the plant, which weakens the succulent much, although they do not always kill the plant.

To control the caterpillars you can use the same preparations as for cochineals, since it also treats this pest, killing the caterpillars. 

Or buy specific insecticides for caterpillars.

If your plant is attacked by soil worms, it will be a little harder to kill, since they remain hidden in the substrate and sometimes directly invisible until they are not pests or adults.

The larvae remain in the substrate and feed on the roots, so we will have to replace the substrate with a new one, and you must clean the pot and the roots of the plant very well, to eliminate any rash of this pest.

5. Weevils

Generally, weevils are of very small size, and the body size varies from only 3 mm to 10 mm in total. 

The shape of your body can become oval or thin and the body colors are usually dark, such as gray, reddish-brown or black.

The most notable feature of adult weevils is that their head has a long enough shape to form a snout.

 The reason why weevils are also called “snout beetles.”

  • Vine weevil

This type of weevils eat the roots and rise to the base of the plant stems, which subsequently collapse suddenly. Adults nibble the leaves, which is a clear sign of the presence of this pest.

  • Agave muzzle weevil

Adult insects feed on the sap of the leaves and can introduce harmful bacteria. However, the real damage is caused by its larvae, which infest the starchy nucleus and the roots of a mature plant, which causes the succulent leaves to wilt and then the death of the plant.

To eliminate these pests, change the plant substrate, clean the pot and the roots of the plant well. You can also add special insecticides to remove weevils, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

6. Snails and slugs

The symptoms they present are: areas eaten on the stem and leaves and the presence of characteristic slime. 

They can completely devour the attacked plant.

These usually appear due to excessive humidity, rainfall or irrigation. 

Snails and slugs are usually present in the most tender and juicy areas of the plant, which makes it easy to locate these types of pests.

How to cure the plant?

To remove snails or slugs, you only need to apply commercial insecticides suitable for it, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Control the watering between the application of the insecticide, so as not to eliminate it with the irrigation water.

An ecological, but slower solution is to arrange on the substrate of containers with beer. 

The beer attracts them and they will drown there, which will allow us to eliminate them.

Also, place a leaf of lettuce embedded in beer, as a claim. 

Another claim may be, tomato mixed with a specific granulate against snails, metaldehyde, to eradicate them. For example; Mesurol

7. Aphids (aphids)

Aphids are difficult to observe in succulents. It is a very common pest and usually appears in plants that have rosette-shaped leaves.

The symptoms are; rolled leaves, twisted buds, growth stop, and blackened areas. 

The attack and bite of the aphids, cause that the growth and the development of plant stops. 

This type of plant is usually located on the underside of the leaves, in the tender shoots and form very nourished groups.

How to cure the plant?

They are easily removed, just add to the moistened substrate, commercial insecticides suitable for this type of pests. We can mention the famous Folithion or even the sprayable Lizetan.

8. White fly

The whitefly, when plants are attacked by whiteflies, causes the leaves of the plant to turn yellow, and then eventually die.

This type of pest produces yellowish-green larvae, similar to mealybugs. They are seen fluttering around the infected leaves when shaking the plant.

The whitefly is multiplied by eggs, placed on the underside of the leaves. 

And the succulent that attacks the most is the Euphorbias, especially those with soft leaves.

How to cure the plant?

To exterminate the whitefly, use a commercial insecticide, which is suitable for this type of pest.

They can also use powdered Folithion or Lizetan, over the entire lower part of the leaves. The plant must be well impregnated with the spraying of the insecticide.

9. Mealy bugs

There are many species of mealybugs, but these insects are all small and difficult to identify by amateur growers.

The mealybugs, when nesting, hide around the base of succulent plants or cacti, just below the level of the substrate or under dry leaves.

The first sign that your cacti or succulents can present when being attacked by this plague are small balls of white fluff on the plant, in the spines of the cactus or around the base or below the edge of the pots.

How to cure the plant?

If there are only a number of mealybugs to be treated, some methylated alcohol can eliminate bedbugs. 

You can also spray your plants with methylated alcohol diluted at least 1: 3 with water (one part alcohol and three parts water). 

If you try, remember that the vapors are potentially toxic and flammable and that the liquid could damage the epidermis of delicate plants.

For large infestations, use regular applications (weekly for several weeks) of aerosol insecticides. 

Wash as many mealybugs as possible with a high-pressure water jet with a sprayer and treat the plant with a contact insecticide (not for Crassulaceae) or a systemic insecticide.

10. Snails

Although snails are less traditional pests in succulent plants, but they do attack some succulent plants, they can be extremely destructive.

Although they are unlikely to invade the house, be careful not to take them inside to the sides of a pot or hidden under a plant. 

Snails have easy access to greenhouses and cold frames through vents, cracks in the structure and doors left open.

Succulent fleshy are an obvious target for snails, but they even seem to be able to cope with prickly cacti. 

After having dealt with the thorns, they like to remove large pieces of tissue from the plant’s body.

How to cure the plant?

Generally, careful inspection will allow plants and pots to be picked by hand. 

If you don’t like to kill these beautiful creatures, place the snails at a distance of at least 200 yards, as they can come back to attack your plants.

 If manual collection fails, there is a range of “pelletized molluscicides” that can be sprayed between the pots, which are very effective and will end up with the plague of snails.

A homemade remedy to combat and prevent this pest is using coffee. 

The smell of coffee is very unpleasant for snails and slugs, so it will help protect your plants from their presence. 

You just have to prepare a well-loaded coffee cup and dilute it with water, then sprinkle this mixture on the substrate of the plants, making sure that the aroma of the coffee penetrates the substrate well. 

This will keep snails and slugs away from that area. If necessary repeat a couple of times a week.

Another home remedy to fight snails and slugs is to add to the plants coarse salt or with cigarette ashes. 

Both ingredients will prevent these unpleasant guests from approaching, preventing your plants from eating. .

11. Aloe Mite

A mite “Eriophyid Eriophyes aloinis” can cause severe damage and injury to some species of Aloe. Other members of Aloaceae may also be at risk of being attacked by this mite. 

Vermiform mites are microscopic and propagate primarily by wind or contact.

Infestation and pests in cacti and succulents, cause uncontrolled growth, irregularities in the leaves and inflorescence.

The growths depend on the mites, which secrete a substance similar to growth hormone to induce a protective gallbladder.

How to cure the plant?

Although the damage is not reversible, the plant will not progress if the mites are not removed with an “acaricide.” In the case of frost-resistant poplars, exposure to freezing temperatures will kill the mites.

However, the quarantine of new plants, good hygiene and the elimination of infected material or whole plants is the most effective solution to prevent the spread of the disease.

12. Scale insects

These insects have the appearance of waxy and brown scales on the leaves and stems, flat or slightly bulky. 

The insect under the protective scale feeds on the sap of the plant and can transmit viral diseases between the plants.

A sugary molasses can be produced that favors the formation of black mold. 

Flake insects do not appear to be common in the United Kingdom and Central America, but appear occasionally, particularly in plants laid outdoors during the summer.

Aloe scales are flat, oval-shaped insects, with white or reddish-brown covers, depending on the species.

How to cure the plant?

Use regular applications (weekly for several weeks) of specific systemic insecticides for this type of pests.

Another way to eliminate this pest (only if the pest is not severe) can use neem oil, which is a vegetable oil extracted from the fruits and seeds of the Nim Tree.

Just dilute in 8 cups of water, 1 tablespoon or 15 ml of neem oil and mix thoroughly. 

Then, spray the solution over the entire plant, especially in the infested areas and the bottom of the leaves. It is advisable to apply this remedy at night to avoid burns on your plant due to the sun.

If the scale infestation is severe, it is advisable to remove the plant from the pot. 

After the plant has been removed, clean the pot and roots (being careful not to mistreat them). 

Spray the plant with alcohol or soapy water, and let the plant dry for a few days (with the sun0) and then re-plant the plant in its pot, but this time with a fresh substrate mixture, which has a good drainage and that is suitable for cacti and succulents.

When treating infected plants, be sure to keep it away from your other plants to prevent the spread of the infestation.

Cactus and succulent diseases

13. Aloe Oxide

Aloe oxide is a fungus that causes round brown or black spots on the leaves of Aloes and Gasterias. 

The black color is caused by the oxidation of phenolic substances in the sap that seals the affected area. 

Once formed, the black spots are permanent and can be unsightly, but usually do not spread.

14. Basal stem rot

Cold or wet conditions can lead to rot of the stems, especially around the ground level, where the wet soil may be in prolonged contact with the plant stem.

Rotten tissues may turn black or reddish-brown depending on the plant and the organism that attacks it. If the stem is cut well above the rotten part, it may be possible to re-root or graft healthy tissues and save the plant.

Many people support the basal stems of difficult plants with a layer of sand on the middle of the pot, so there will be little water retention against the stem in this critical region.

In many cases, fungal attack and bad culture are related. Improving ventilation, temperature control, irrigation and fertilizer application can help prevent all kinds of problems.

Fungi can be discouraged by spraying with a “systemic fungicide,” but prevention is the best option. 

Do not allow water to remain in the leaves for a long time and avoid excess moisture in cold climates and make sure the plant receives sufficient air circulation and sunlight.

15. Fusariosis

The fungus Fusarium oxysporum is a disease that interferes with the ability of a succulent to absorb water, causing severe stress, wilting them, turning them yellowish and sometimes causing the death of the plant.

This excessively moist soil-borne fungus enters the plant through the roots and begins to reproduce in vascular tissues. 

Eventually, these tissues are blocked, which makes it difficult or impossible for succulents to transport water. If the tissues open, brown stripes are observed.

To prevent the disease from progressing, you should cut the healthy part of the plant with a previously disinfected knife and use it as a cut in a new soil. 

It is also recommended to treat cutting with fungicide by prevention.

16. Root and crown rot

Fungal pathogens of the genus Phytophthora cause a variety of root and coronary rot. 

Unfortunately, these diseases are difficult to differentiate from the early stages of other fungal diseases, since their symptoms are largely nonspecific.

Affected plants become stressed, wilt, change color and eventually die from a slow rot that develops from the ground level up. 

To prevent this disease from attacking your succulents, make sure that the substrate has good drainage and avoid watering the plant in excess.

If you want to rescue your plant, if it has not yet died, follow the steps below:

  • Remove the plant from the pot and remove the substrate.
  • Clean the roots of the plant and eliminate the rotten parts.
  • Let the plant dry in the open air and in the sun for a couple of days.
  • Plant the succulent again (the healthiest part of the plant), in a new substrate specific for cacti and succulents.
  • Moisten the substrate and place the pot where the plant receives good sunlight.
  • From here, you should take care of the irrigation of the plant to prevent its roots from rotting again.

Disease prevention

The best thing with fungi is prevention, because once the rotting chemicals appear, sometimes they are ineffective.

  • Irrigation: avoid watering your plant in excess, make sure that the substrate drains properly and that the pots have drainage holes. Water only when the substrate is completely dry
  • Eliminates diseased plants, except if it is an important plant, or that has the potential to be saved as a cactus that can then take root.
  • Discard the soil that had contact with an infected plant and if you use the pot again, you must clean it perfectly.
  • Avoid planting cacti and other succulents in winter because root damage and root ball alterations can rot it with water. Although it is urgent to perform the transplant winter is never recommended, but spring or summer.
  • For the same reason, when you make a change of pot or transplant, if you notice that in the transplant the root ball or the roots have been altered or broken, wait about 10 or 15 days to water, as it can rot.
  • Don’t wet the leaves with watering because it favors fungi and their propagation.
  • To protect the plants from fungi it is very convenient that you perform preventive spraying periodically, at least twice a year, in spring and autumn. For example with Captan, which is a broad-spectrum preventive fungicide (valid for many fungi).
  • Water the succulent plants with water that carries fungicide. It comes cheap for the small amount that is added. It will prevent infections in roots and neck. In seedbeds, water also with some fungicide since when it is declared visible the disease will be late and will lead to loss of seedlings.
  • Locate your succulents where you receive good sunlight and ventilation
  • Reduce winter irrigation as much as possible, since moisture in the substrate is an important factor when it comes to fungus formation.