Curious about how to get rid of mealybugs on succulents? Most of us have heard about them, and some have experienced their damage firsthand.
With the abundance of succulents available in the world, it is understandable that mealybugs, those tiny insects that feed on plants, tend to stick to your succulent and make their home on your plant.
They can cause damage to the plant through their feeding activity, especially when they inhabit tissue where there is no photosynthesis (typically seen on newer succulents), such as at the base of branches and the base of leaves.
You can spot mealybugs easily with the naked eye or with a magnifying glass. Often the damage is irreversible, but what if you could solve three problems at once?
We’ll look at getting rid of mealybugs quickly and easier than ever before, so you don’t have to worry about it later, without harmful chemicals.
This article will answer common questions about mealybugs and help you determine the best methods for getting rid of them.
What are mealybugs?
Mealybugs are small insects with soft, wax-like bodies. They’re often confused with scale insects, but mealybugs are closely related to aphids and whiteflies.
They can be found on plants in greenhouses and gardens, as well as trees and shrubs. Mealybugs are usually seen flying around during the day, but they can also be found hiding in leaf litter or underneath leaves.
Mealybugs cause damage by sucking sap from plants and leaving honeydew (a sweet substance) behind. They tend to infest plants in warm climates or those that have been overwatered, so it’s best to keep an eye out for them during late spring or early summer.
Mealybugs are small insects that feed on plant sap and cause sticky, white spots on the leaves. They have a characteristic fuzzy appearance, and their bodies can be up to 1/4 inch long. These pests are harmless to humans but are dangerous to plants when left uncontrolled.
Mealybugs do not bite or sting; they suck plant sap to get their meals. They can be a problem if you have plants that are already stressed by other pests or if you have young plants that are growing under lights.
Where did they come from?
Mealybugs are often found in your plants’ flower buds and open flowers, but they may also be hiding in the soil under your plants’ leaves.
They live in the outer layer of plants’ leaves or stems. This is called the epidermis, where they feed. The most common place mealybugs come from is in the soil outside your home or farm. These tiny insects live in the soil and eat plant material and roots.
They will start as eggs that hatch into small white larvae and then fall into the soil, where they can survive all winter.
If you have recently planted seeds or transplants into your garden, it’s possible that these little pests have already gotten into your garden without you knowing. They’re just waiting for warmer weather to start eating your plants. Highlighted below are a few common culprits why you find mealybugs on your plants:
- They might have come from other plants in your garden or nearby flowerbeds. If you have many different kinds of plants growing around your house, some will likely have mealybug problems.
- Your garden may have been treated with pesticides or fungicides.
- Moisture is a key factor in the growth of mealybugs. If you have a plant that is getting too much water, it will attract more mealybugs.
- Another reason plants have mealybugs is because other pests are contaminating them in the area. The mealybug is likelier to thrive around other pests that feed on leaves.
- Plants stressed by climate change, or poor drainage can also cause an influx of mealybugs.
How to check plants for mealybugs
Mealybugs are tiny, wingless insects mistaken for scale because they have a similar shape and color, but their bodies are different.
They can be hard to spot, and the most common symptom is a white spot on the leaves, but they leave behind a droopy appearance and reduced growth. If you think your succulents are infested with mealybugs, here’s how you can check them:
- Look at the plant’s leaves. Are they discolored and deformed?
- Inspect the roots of your succulents, looking for small holes or white bumps that indicate mealybugs are present
- Look in the soil around your plants and around the drip line, if applicable, for mealybugs.
- Check if leaves are turning yellow and dropping off. This is a sign that the plant is infested.
- Check for the presence of small white bumps or spots on the leaves.
- Another sign of mealybugs is when the plant produces a white powdery residue on its leaves and stems. This white powdery residue indicates that the mealybugs are multiplying rapidly, which means they could be causing serious damage to your succulent plants.
One of the faster ways to get rid of mealybugs is to use ready-made organic pesticides. These pesticides are tested and proven effective against various types of pests. Some pesticides you can use include.
How do mealybugs spread
When you see these pests on your plants, there are several ways they can spread from plant to plant. They reproduce quickly, with several generations per year. After mating, females lay eggs on plant surfaces. These will eventually hatch into nymphs that look like adults but are smaller in size and without wings.
Small ‘crawlers’ are readily transported by wind, rain, birds, ants, clothing, and vehicle and may settle in
cracks and crevices, usually on new plants.
Mealybugs tend to move from one plant to another like they originally came into contact with their host plant: burrowing through the soil around the base of a leaf or stem and then releasing tiny droplets of sticky egg masses onto nearby leaves or stems.
They’ll transfer their eggs to another plant through their bodies or legs if this happens. Another way is when mealybugs become trapped between two plants during their flight from predators or harsh weather conditions (like rain).
Also, when a female mealybug lays eggs inside another plant’s stem or leaf during a mating ritual (called “traumatic insemination”). Once the eggs hatch into larvae, they’ll feed on the leaves of that host plant until they reach adulthood and then move out onto other plants to find new hosts.
Best insecticide for mealybugs
BioAdvanced Insect Disease & Mite Control Spray
BioAdvanced Insect Disease & Mite Control Spray is a versatile and convenient pest control spray formulated to be an effective insecticide/miticide, fungicide, algaecide, and herbicide treatment.
Great for perimeter spraying on trees, shrubs, houseplants, and other outdoor plants. It has a long-lasting residual effect when it comes in contact with the target pests for indoor use only.
This unique formulation kills all life stages of mealybugs, leafhoppers, and whiteflies and provides sustained residual protection. It is safe to use on indoor residential & commercial landscapes, ornamental plants, and around swimming pools and spas.
It works well in various conditions and will not harm beneficial insects such as bees, ladybugs, or ladybird beetles.
Harris Neem Oil Spray for Plants
Harris Neem Oil Spray for Plants combines different neem extracts in this spray. The extract from the root is used as a natural insecticide and fungicide. It has an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic action.
The other two extracts are eucalyptus oil and citronellol oil. They help to kill germs and bugs like mosquitos. This multi-purpose spray is safe to use around pets and children.
A natural organic solution, we recommend spraying on plants daily as part of a preventive maintenance program. This gel is completely safe for gardens and home use.
The formula comes in a 1 oz bottle and will last roughly three months; shake well before use. You can also dilute it with water if you want to apply less than one full bottle at once.
It is a natural pesticide that kills insects, mites, and small larvae infestations. It is a non-toxic, 100% organic product with no chemicals and does not affect human or plant health.
Earth’s Ally Insect Control for Plants
Get rid of bugs in your yard and garden with Earth’s Ally Insect Control for Plants. This professional ant and spider killer is safe to use around children and pets and has no odor or residue.
Use it to eliminate ants, silverfish, spiders, and other crawling insects that crawl over the soil surface. It is also effective against aphids, leafhoppers, Japanese beetles, thrips, and whiteflies.
Earth’s Ally releases an odorless mist that contains no harmful chemicals into the air around plants that are infested by ants, spiders, and other insects.
It is a safe, natural way to protect your plants from bugs and roaches. Use Earth’s Ally Spray Insecticide on annuals, perennials, and vegetables.
How to get rid of mealybugs on succulents naturally
The mealybug is a pest that can be hard to get rid of, but there are several ways you can use to get rid of them. However, if you’re dealing with just one or two mealybugs, it’s best not to try harsh chemicals on them.
Instead, try using a natural solution like neem oil. These can be found at most grocery stores or pharmacies. Apply these directly onto the initial spots where you see the mealybugs; they’ll do the job without causing lasting damage.
Use a neem oil solution to treat the plant.
A neem oil solution is the best way to eliminate mealy bugs. Neem oil is derived from the seeds of the neem tree, which is native to India and Pakistan and can be found in other parts of the world.
It’s used as an insecticide for plants in gardens and pots. Make a neem oil solution, and spray it onto your succulents’ affected leaves and stems. This will kill the mealybugs and keep them from coming back.
To make your neem oil solution:
- Add one tablespoon of neem oil to 1 cup of warm water in a spray bottle; shake well before using.
- Spray on succulents infected with mealy bugs every two weeks until there are no signs of these pests.
- Use this solution very early in the morning, before the sun is up or in the evening, to prevent your plants from burning.
Use Insecticidal soap or dish soap.
There are several ways to get rid of mealybugs on succulents. One of the most common ways is to use insecticidal or dish soap. Insecticide soap is made up of a mixture of soap and other chemicals that kill insects on contact.
You can also try using dish soap. This will work if you can find a dish soap that doesn’t contain harsh chemicals that could harm your plants or the environment around them. If you use dish soap without any additives, it should be safe for your plants.
You will need the following:
- Dish soap (optional)
Mix two teaspoons of dish soap with water one quartz of water and spray your plants until there are no signs of mealybugs on your plants again.
Use rubbing alcohol spray for them.
Alcohol is an excellent disinfectant, so exposing the mealybugs to it will kill them and make your succulent plants healthier. Alcohol is a natural cleaner that removes the mealybugs and their eggs.
It works because it breaks down the waxy coating that covers their bodies, allowing it to be washed off easily with water or an alcohol-based solution.
If you use rubbing alcohol spray, they’ll be gone in no time. You can find it at any drugstore or grocery store—or make your own with some rubbing alcohol and water.
Mix a few drops of rubbing alcohol in about half a cup of water, shake it up well, and then spray on your succulents. Remember to keep the spray off the leaves so that it doesn’t harm them.
It’s also safe for pets, children, and the environment. Spray alcohol on them with a garden hose or hand sprayer.
Use diatomaceous earth
Diatomaceous earth is a type of sedimentary rock that contains a lot of tiny fossils called diatoms. These fossils are made of silica, also known as silica dust.
This dust is great for killing mealybugs and other insects because it consists of very small particles that can get into their pores and kill them. You can use diatomaceous earth in any container to get rid of pests like mealybugs, thrips, and aphids.
You don’t have to use much—sprinkle it around the plant in the container and let it sit for a few days before watering again (but not too long). Also, you can use it around your house to eliminate pests like ants or spiders, which might be crawling around your home.
If you’re looking for a quick, easy way to get rid of mealy bugs on your succulents, use hydrogen peroxide. It’s a great way to kill these pests without damaging the plant. It effectively eliminates mealy bugs from your plants without harming the environment or your succulents.
Hydrogen peroxide is a strong disinfectant, so it’s safe to use on any part of your succulent. Mix 1 part hydrogen peroxide with four parts water in a spray bottle, and mist the affected area. After it dries, rub it off with a paper towel or cloth.
Try Baking Soda
Baking soda is one of the most common household chemicals used in cleaning and pest control. It works because it’s a natural pesticide that kills fungus and bacteria. Baking soda works by killing the insects and their larvae, causing them to dehydrate and die.
You can sprinkle baking soda on the plant and then water it in. Or make a spray by mixing two tablespoons per gallon of water.
Make sure you don’t overwater your plant as you do this; you don’t want to kill the remainder of your succulent’s root system.
The best part is that your plant will likely be healthier once you’ve done this. Baking soda has no negative side effects on plants; it just helps them get rid of pests naturally.
Use horticultural oils
Horticultural oils are quite effective at killing mealybugs on succulents. You can use horticultural oils by rubbing them on the leaves and spraying them directly on infected areas.
You need only a few drops of oil, and you can use them by soaking the affected area of your plant in the oil for several minutes per application and washing it off with water afterward.
You’ll know if you’ve successfully gotten rid of mealybugs if the appearance of their eggs is reduced or eliminated.
The best time to do this is early morning before the sun hits your plant and warms the surface, killing off any remaining eggs or larvae that may have been left behind during the night. You can find these oils at most garden centers or online.
Will alcohol damage succulents?
While some plants are more sensitive than others to the effects of alcohol, succulents are one of them. Many succulents will die when exposed to too much-undiluted alcohol over time. This may cause changes in colors, and rotten roots, which cod lead to the death of the plant.
Alcohol is a solvent that can dissolve the oils that protect succulent plants and cause them to rot. If you have a succulent plant in your home, it’s important to ensure you don’t expose it to alcohol, as it can lead to rot and other issues.
You should also avoid using alcohol as a pesticide without diluting it, as it will dry out your plants and make them susceptible to pests. So, if you’re using alcohol to clean your succulents, we recommend using it with water to reduce its concentration.
The most common way of caring for succulents is to apply a layer of water-resistant mulch around the base of the plant and then water regularly. This will prevent the root system from drying out and will also help keep it warm in winter when temperatures drop below freezing.
If you use an alcohol-based cleaning solution on your succulents, ensure that it does not contain harmful chemicals like bleach or ammonia, which can kill them outright.
How to prevent mealybugs on succulents
Mealybugs are a common and annoying pest of home gardens, but one simple way to prevent them from ravaging your succulents is to keep them clean.
Mealybugs love to hide in the soil of succulents, so if you’re not careful about keeping your plants healthy, they can quickly multiply and cause problems. Here’s how to prevent mealybugs on succulents:
- Do not overwater your plants. Mealybugs love to live in wet soil, so ensure you don’t water your succulents more than once per week.
- Keep them away from direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day. If possible, try to keep these plants out of sunnier spots where they’ll be exposed to more intense heat without shade.
- Clean up any dead leaves or debris from around your succulent plant regularly. Mealybugs love hiding under these things, so removing them immediately is important.
- Try not to over-fertilize your plants, as this can cause problems for other plants, like tomatoes or peppers, which can be damaged by excess nutrients in the soil if left untreated for too long.
- Use a low-pressure washer (or anything similar) to clean off any dirt or debris from your succulents’ leaves and stems. This will help prevent infestation by keeping the surface of your plants clean and free of debris.
- Wash your succulents every few days. This will help prevent mealybugs from getting a foothold and spreading to other plants.
- Keep your house clean; dust and debris can harbor insects that could be hiding around your house.
- If you’re using a soil-less mix, make sure it’s fully dry before adding water to your soil mix. Mealybugs like to hide in damp places, so if you water them too soon, they can start breeding and spread quickly.
- Keep your succulents away from other plants that might be infested with mealybugs—they’re not only carriers themselves, but they’ll also encourage infestation in other plants.