Effective Methods for Eradicating Cactus Bugs

Cacti, like other plants, are susceptible to diseases with bacteria, fungi, rodents and insects as the main protagonists. Today we teach you how to get rid of cactus bugs.

how to get rid of cactus bugs
Opuntia cactus infested with carmine cochineal (Dactylopius coccus)

In order to protect the plant proactively against all kinds of diseases, the following important factors must first and foremost be taken into account. Ensure good hygiene in the greenhouse, lots of light, correct fertilization, correct water dosage, good ventilation, and avoid excessive watering.

Also remove dried flower residues and plant parts in good time.

If a plant is infected, put it in quarantine, so to speak, and check nearby plants that they are not infected either.

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Mealybugs (Pseudococcus)

how to get rid of mealybugs on cactus
Heavy infestation of mealybugs

Mealybugs are the most common pests that attack houseplants. They are white-gray woolly creatures 2-4mm long, family of the woodlice. These animals are both on the plant and at the boundary between soil and plant.

How to get rid of mealybugs on cactus:

To fight mealybugs, mix 1 cup of rubbing alcohol with few drops of Dawn dish soap and 1 quart (32oz) of water. Pour the solution in the spray bottle. Mist the plant and soil and repeat weekly for 2 to 3 weeks.

Root Lice (Rhizoecus)

Root lice are about 2 mm and lives on the roots of the plants, where they feed on the root juices. As a result, the plant no longer grows and/or flowers and sometimes end with the death of the plant.

How to get rid of root lice on cactus:

To fight root lice, use the same treatment as with the mealybugs.

Red Spider Mite (Tetranychus urticae)

how to get rid of red spider mites on cactus
Pic credit Gilles San Martin

These are red mites of 0.20-0.50mm. You can see a gray wax layer on the plants or segments that slowly turns into brown spots.

How to get rid of red spider mites on cactus:

To fight red spider mites, use the same treatment as with the mealybugs.

Scale Insects (Coccoidea)

how to get rid of scale insects on cactus
Pic credit Gilles San Martin

Scale insects have the shape of brown-gray scales under which the animals and eggs are.

How to get rid of scale insects on cactus:

It is recommended to use Neem oil to fight scale insects. Not only does the oil coat plants, but it naturally contains azdirachtin, which will slowly poison most soft scales. You can use it on armored scales as well, but it will work like a horticultural oil in that usage.

Cactus Cyst Nematode (Cactodera cacti)

On the roots of the cactus you can see very small nodules in which the Cactus cyst nematode live.

How to get rid of cactus cyst nematode on cactus:

It is best to cut away the affected roots and immerse the root ball in water at 50-60°C (122-140°F). Do not go higher than 60°C (140°F) because then the roots may die.

Woodlice (Oniscidea)

how to get rid of woodlice on cactus
Pic credit Katja Schluz

Woodlice are typically 12 mm long, with oval, grey segmented bodies and 14 legs with prominent antennae. Woodlice are quite harmless although may damage young or sick plants.

How to get rid of woodlice on cactus:

You can best control these pests manually by using good hygiene in the greenhouse and placing a hollowed-out potato upside down on the ground, under which they will nest.


It is best to fight these manually and then kill them with salt. Do not use snail pellets, as they are very toxic to the environment. These animals can cause enormous damage to your collection in a very short time.


soft rot on cactus

Due to high humidity and insufficient hygiene, fungi develop within a short time. In order to prevent fungi, make sure there is a lot of light, reduce the humidity by good ventilation and immediately remove withered plant residues. Once a fungus has been identified it will be difficult to remove.