Your succulents are growing healthy and well, yet one day you notice some tiny fuzzy white substances crawling on your plant beloved stems, and if left ignored, the plants may slowly wither and die eventually. The fuzzy white substances are mealy bugs, one of the most common pest problems for succulents and a stubborn one that requires a long and thorough fight to get rid of them.
The first thing to do when you notice mealy bugs on your succulents is to quarantine the infected plants, move them away from other plants. Inspect the healthy plants to see if they have any signs of mealy bugs.
<Image: Mealy Bugs on succulent. Photo courtesy of Pinterest>
After that, prepare to clean your infected plants by taking the plant out of the pot and rinsing them under a strong stream of water. Clean the pot in hot, soapy water. Letting the plant and pot dry then replant with new soil. Throw away the old soil in regular trash and not the green bin.
<Image: Mealy bugs on an Echeveria. Photo courtesy of Juicykits>
In case you don’t have ready-mix succulent soil available immediately in your house, you can put the soil inside oven-safe container covered with foil, then bake at 180-200°F for at least 30 minutes, or when the soil temperature reaches 180°F. Then let cool and replant. Our recommendation is to get new soil since there might still be mealy bug eggs left in the old soil.
Next step, use either rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) or neem oil and dish soap mixture to spray the whole infected plant. Or you could use a Q-tip to paint-brush any spot with mealy bugs. Rubbing alcohol can be found easily at your local drug stores. If you use rubbing alcohol, make sure you don’t put the plant out in full sun for a few hours since it may get burnt.
<Image: Use neem oil or 50-70% alcohol to kill the bugs. Photo courtesy of Riteaid>
Check your plant and repeat the steps for a few days to see if there are any mealy bugs left. Then spray again after a week for preventive measure. You can also use neem oil to spray into the soil to kill off any bugs or eggs hiding there. After thoroughly checking and spraying for a few weeks, if you don’t see mealy bugs reappearing, put the plant back to its original spot, and keep checking every 3 weeks.
<Image: Use Q-tips to carefully pick out the mealy bugs. Photo courtesy of faithfoodfamilyfun.com>
And to prevent an infection, there are some preventive measures you can take: isolate any new plant for 2-3 weeks to see if it’s infected, keep regular check on all the plants to stop the infection when it’s still small, get alert when ants start crowding your plants area as ants like the sweet water discharged by mealy bugs, notice if your plants start looking unhealthy for no obvious reason (with adequate light and water), keep your plant area dry, clean, and free of rotting leaves or flowers.
At Succulents Box, we are inspected regularly by the California Department of Agriculture for pests and diseases. We check each succulent carefully before shipping to make sure they are healthy. If you notice anything unusual with your succulents, please notify us right away.
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