Succulents are beautiful plants that add life and vibrance to any home or yard, which explains their recent growth in popularity. But it’s not just their beauty that people all over the world are loving. They’re also known for being easy to care for and pest resistant, but is that true? Do succulents attract bugs? And if they do, what can you do to stop a complete takeover?
In this article, we’ll answer these questions and tell you what pests to look out for. Keep reading to learn more.
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What Are Succulents?
Succulents are a large family of drought-resistant plants, including many cacti and air plants that store water in their leaves, stems, and roots. These thick, enlarged parts make them striking plants that have a lot of dimension and texture. When they naturally grow outdoors, succulents can get quite large, but indoors they remain small, making it easy to have more than one or even build a terrarium.
These easy-to-take-care-of qualities are what people love about these plants, but there’s a misconception by those new to succulents that they don’t require any maintenance. That couldn’t be further from the truth! Even though these plants retain water and thrive in many climates, they still need to be watered, and you still need to look out for bugs.
Do Succulents Attract Bugs?
Succulents are hardy plants that are mostly resistant to bugs and thrive easily, but that doesn’t mean they’re entirely immune to pests. Typical household insects are not a problem for the most part, but some smaller bugs are attracted to succulents for their large water quantities. Here are common pests that you have to look out for when caring for your succulent plants.
These are the most common pests you’ll find on succulents. They are minuscule and resemble tiny crabs. You may not realize you have them, but if you notice a weird white fuzz on your plant’s leaves and stem, that’s a telltale sign of mealy bugs.
Although you might spot only a couple at first, their population on your succulent can quickly explode. A female can lay up to 600 eggs, and once they hatch, they will stay on your plant and take all the water out of it. Mealybugs damage to succulents can also lead to mold growth, and in large enough concentrations, kill your plant.
Have you seen small black bugs on your succulent? Then you may have a case of scale. Scale insects are hard-bodied bugs that like to eat the sap that comes from succulent plants. Two types of scale are attracted to succulents, but over a thousand varieties of scale with different shapes, sizes, and colors exist.
Scale insects can get out of control quickly, and next thing you know, they’ll cover an entire leaf and be ready to move to other parts. You may find this pest incredibly tricky to remove, and unfortunately, the best way is often to take off the leaf (or leaves) the scale is on.
Spider mites are common pests that can attack many plants, especially succulents. These pests love the sweet sap that succulents contain and suck it out. Spider mites are tiny red bugs that are part of the arachnid family, making them hard to spot.
The first sign of spider mites people notice is small white webs on their plant. If you see this, remove the web immediately, especially away from your other plants. They also leave small, rust-colored dots behind on the spots they were feeding on. This damage can weaken your plants and even lead to other infections.
Gnats may not be as harmful to your succulents as some of the other pests on this list, but they can be a huge nuisance when caring for indoor plants. We all know these tiny, black, flying insects, and they’re annoying enough as it is, but when they’re always in your terrarium or flying around your succulents, it can drive you mad.
The best way to avoid gnats is to avoid overwatering your succulents. Remember, these are drought-resistant plants, so overwatering them can lead to root rot and lead to a fungus that attracts gnats. This is important because these small black bugs on your succulent breed in large numbers, which not only looks gross but can damage the leaves since they will bury themselves in them.
How to Remove Bugs From Succulents
Do succulents attract bugs? Yes, but that doesn’t mean the end of your plant. Preventing and removing pests is generally pretty easy. It just depends on the type of bug you’re dealing with and how bad the infestation is. Here are the different techniques succulent owners use to get rid of pests.
Use Rubbing Alcohol
Yes, that’s right. Rubbing alcohol can kill many of the bugs that are attracted to succulents. However, you don’t want to spray your plant or rub-down the leaves with it, as this can severely damage the plant. Instead, get a cotton swab, put alcohol on one end, and touch it to the insect. This will immediately kill them, but it’s not the best option for out of control infestations.
Pesticides and Insecticides
This is not the go-to solution for pests because many pesticides and insecticides contain toxic chemicals that can harm your succulents, but there are some non-toxic options out there.
Removing Parts of Your Succulent
Depending on your plants’ bugs, the best option may be to remove whole parts of your succulent. Yes, it’s sad, but it must be done when there’s too much damage, or the pests are too hard to get rid of. As mentioned earlier, scale insects are an excellent example of this, especially when there are many of them.
Use Beneficial Insects
Believe it or not, but certain insects are beneficial to your succulents. Like ladybugs and other kinds of mites, these types of insects won’t harm your plants but will eat the harmful pests. If your plants indoors, this obviously won’t be the best option, but it can do wonders for protecting your outdoor succulents.
Protect Your Succulents
Succulents are unique plants that are relatively easy to take care of, but there are still pests you need to look out for. Now that you know what bugs are attracted to succulents and how to remove them, you can keep your plants healthy and strong for years and years.