Pests can cause a lot of damage to your succulent plant. Mealybugs, in particular, are the most common insect infestation experienced by succulent growers. They do not only damage the plant, but they may also end up killing it if left unchecked. So if you start seeing them crawling in your beloved houseplant, better do something about it quick. Luckily, these are easy to terminate so you can restore the health of your succulents in no time.
Mealybugs are unarmored scale insects that usually thrive in moist and warm habitats. Among their favorites are succulents because of their nutrient-rich composition. They live by sucking on the sap or juices of the plant.
These insects pose such a problem for succulent plant owners because they reproduce really fast. They can dwell not only on the exterior of the plant, but they can dig their way into the succulents’ flesh too. Aside from that, they can even hide beneath the soil, right into the roots of the plant.
Mealybugs are pale in color. The female species usually lack wings but have legs that allow them to move. The males are smaller but with wings, and they resemble a gnat. These features make them easy to spot in your succulent plant.
Dealing with Mealybugs
If you see them, simply wash them off with running water. If they are too attached to your succulents, get something to brush them off. It is recommended that you use a toothbrush with soft bristles for the job to avoid pricking the sensitive skin of your plant.
As mentioned, these insects can dig their way into the insides of the succulent plant and into its roots. Therefore, it is better if you examine the plant thoroughly. Look for small cuts or wounds on the exterior of the plant which the creatures may have used as access into the tissues. The parts where they are staying usually show signs of withering.
An easy fix would be to cut the infected part if it is just a leaf or it is located on the tip of your plant. However, if they have managed to go into the stem, that would be harder since you couldn’t just slice off the whole area. You may have to surgically remove the bugs using a scalpel, and then use a pressurized water spray to drive them out. Next, examine the roots by safely removing the succulent plant from the soil. Rinse them thoroughly with water.
As an added measure, it is strongly suggested that you wash the succulent plant pot with soapy water. After the container dries up, refill it with fresh garden soil as you replant the succulents. See to it that you dispose of the old soil properly to prevent the remnants of the bugs from coming back or from preying on the other plants in your household.
You can also use a systemic pesticide for an easier and more effective way of removing mealybugs. It should be noted though that because of the thick protective covering of succulents, you will have to use a high concentration of the agent. The oily residue of the solution may result in phototoxicity, which makes the plant very sensitive to sunlight.
Withered Succulent Plant
If the mealybugs have caused your succulent plant to wither, don’t worry because you can still salvage some of its healthy parts so you can propagate a new one. Simply follow the tips on propagating a succulent plant in our previous article.
However, if you want to save yourself from all that hassle, simply get our new Beautiful Assorted Variety Succulents Starter Kit to liven up your place again.