When the plants have the quality of low maintenance and high benefits they are called succulents. Succulents are plants which have gained enormous popularity amongst the gardeners and the plant lovers. Not only because of its relaxed way of growing but also for its variety of uses. Succulents are used from decorating the house to its numerous amounts of medicinal benefits.
They provide fresh air to the entire house along with increasing the concentration. Whether you keep them in the natural sunlight or bring a grow light succulent will always increase the beauty of your garden or your home. But the charming succulents have a danger from a thing called mealy bugs. We will show you how to destroy these mealy bugs on succulents before they destroy your succulents. Before proceeding let us get an answer to this question.
What are mealy bugs?
From the family of pseudococcidae, mealy bugs are white cottony parasites found in moist and warm climate. Mealy bugs feed themselves by sucking the plant juices of succulents. They act as a path of several diseases in succulents. Most of the world is doomed with the presence of mealy bugs but they are more likely to grow in warm and moist climate.
Mealy bugs are sexually dimorphic which means that the male and the female species are way different beyond the differences in their sexual organs.
Female mealy bugs feed on plant sap as well as the roots of the plant and the bottom of the fruit. They attach themselves to the succulent and secrete a powdery wax layer which acts as a protection shield while they are sucking the plant juices.
Unlike female mealy bugs adult male mealy bugs don’t feed themselves and they have a very short span of life. The major responsibility of male mealy bugs is to fertilize the female mealy bugs.
What causes mealy bugs on succulents?
Mealy bugs are parasites which are more likely to grow in moist and warm climate but there two main reasons which are actions of human activities that are likely to cause mealy bugs.
One among the two reasons is over fertilizing. Fertilizers are very beneficial for the succulent but only if used in correct amount. Fertilizers provide the soil nutrients which lack in the soil. But over fertilizing can be very harmful because it makes the soil extra warm and moist which is the best way to mealy bugs to the roots.
Second reason is over watering succulent. Succulents are already moist plant by nature. They need very less amount of water but if they are watered in excess it would create an extra moist environment around the succulent which is perfect for mealy bugs to survive.
Whenever you notice mealy bugs on your succulents the first step is always to separate infected succulents from the rest of them.
Ways to eliminate mealy bugs
One of the most trusted solutions to get rid of nasty mealy bugs is using 70% isopropyl alcohol. You can apply the alcohol by using q-tip if the quantity of mealy bug is less. But the best way is to spray it directly over the mealy bugs. In case of initial attack of mealybugs one round of spraying will eliminate them.
When the mealy bugs have spread over various parts of succulent it is recommended to spray the alcohol until there is no clue of mealybugs. When there is extreme attack of the mealybugs on the succulent pour the alcohol directly into the soil along with spraying it all over the plant.
This will eliminate the eggs which are hidden in the soil. When you spray the alcohol on the mealybug a web like structure will be formed leaving behind some powdery substance. Make sure to spray the solutions on the parts of plants which are hard to find. Alcohol will not create any damage to succulent which is a great part of this solution.
Needles And Combs
When you have fewer succulents to take care of needles and combs come as a handy technique to remove mealy bugs. This mealy bugs work like lice in human beings. They suck juices from the succulents like lice suck blood from the hair. To remove lice we use fine toothed comb and similarly to remove mealy bugs a fine toothed comb can be used.
Also needles can be used to pick these mealy bugs and remove them from them the succulents. This technique is very cheap and can be performed at the initial attack of mealy bugs. But this technique is time consuming and only possible if you have one or two succulents to take care of.
Rinsing The Succulent
Whenever you inspect mealy bugs on succulents without thinking separate them from the healthy ones. Take the infected succulent and remove the soil from that pot and throw it in the regular trash and not in the green trash.
This will prevent the infected soil from getting recycled. Take the infected succulent and rinse them thoroughly in clear water first, then with the soapy water and again with the clean water. Let the succulent dry in bright sunlight and if sunlight is not possible then in the grow light. Plant the succulent in fresh new and healthy soil.
One of the most organic ways to remove mealy bugs is neem oil. Mostly available in each and every household neem oil helps in eliminating mealy bug eggs. But the neem oil has to be used in a very specific manner. For example if you are taking 30 ml of neem oil it needs to be mixed with 3.5 litres of water.
This will ensure that the oil doesn’t stick to leaves of succulents and make it greasy. Do not use excess amount of neem oil in the day because the combination of oil and sunlight might burn the succulent. It is advisable to spray the combination of water and neem oil at night. The best technique is to spray it all over the succulent.
Diatomaceous earth is an amazing powder that can be used for a wide range of applications from health supplement to plant care. It is the purest food grade which affects the mealy bugs because of the quality of the deposits it is made of. It is 100% organic on succulent and it does not harm the soil of the succulent.
Introduction Of Lady Bugs
This is the best way to get rid of mealy bugs if you are growing them outdoors. Introduce mealy bugs to its natural predators that are the lady bugs. Lady bugs eat the mealy bugs from the succulents without damaging the plants. This method is only possible if the succulents are grown outside because it is not possible to bring the lady bugs into the house. One precaution which needs to be taken is that to keep the lady bugs away from other plants.
Safer Brand 5102
It is a readymade insecticidal soap which comes in a spray bottle which is convenient to use. It is a 100% organic solution to treat mealy bugs. This insecticidal soap can be used up to the day of harvest. It can be sprayed directly on the succulent and also be dissolved in soil for no residue.
The mealy bugs lay their eggs in the soil as the soil provides warm and moist environment in the development of eggs. Addition of inorganic soil will add an extra layer which would act as a barrier between the eggs and the perfect climate.
Ways to prevent mealy bugs on succulents in the first place
As the saying goes ‘ Prevention is better than cure’ we will see some methods to prevent the infestation of mealy bugs.
- This is the most important thing to remember to prevent mealy bug infestation always check any new plant that you bring home for any mealy bugs.
- If there is any mealy bug in the new plant then isolate the plant and take measures to eliminate the mealy bug.
- We can also give the plant a good wash by giving it a blast of strong water and keep repeating the treatment until you are sure the mealy bugs are gone.
- Ants are the main culprits that can spread mealy bugs. Mealy bugs secrete a honeydew which attracts the ants. These ants prevent predators from reaching the mealy bugs and also they carry the mealy bugs to other plants. so first we need to control the ant infestation first in your garden by rinsing away the ant hill or using diatomaceous earth.
- Avoid over fertilization of the plant, mealy bugs thrive on nitrogen rich soil so it is better to avoid over fertilization of the plant with nitrogen rich fertilizer.
- Spray the plant with an oil spray or soap spray to prevent any mealy bug.
- Neem oil spray is very effective to ward off any mealy bug attack.
- An alcohol spray is also good to keep the mealybug away. spray the plant at weekly once with alcohol or neem oil or insecticide spray to prevent mealy bugs.
- The mealybugs can also leave in the soil so it is best to remove a few inches of the top soil and then replace it with fresh potting soil. It is also best to wash the pot with soapy water to remove any egg or any hidden mealy bugs.
- Another way to prevent the mealy bug attack is to use worm casting, these are manure from earthworm. worn cast contain more than 60 nutrients and minerals. worm casting help to suppress pathogens, bacteria and also fungi. Worm casting contain chitinases an enzyme that break down chitin. this chitinase kill and repel mealy bugs like aphids, mites, whiteflies etc.
- Another thing we can do is to plant nectar rich plants that attract predators that feed on mealybugs in our garden to prevent the infestation in the beginning in a natural way. Some nectar rich plants are sweet alyssum, bee balm etc.
Mealy bugs can be a serious threat to your succulents. Once they attack the plant they multiply in numbers within no time. It is very essential to identify mealy bugs at a very early stage to save the succulents from the damage. Prevention is always better than cure.
Make sure that the succulents get good amount of sunlight and where sunlight is not possible make sure that it is kept in grow light for a sufficient amount of time. Do not over water and over fertilize the plants as it is the main cause of brewing of mealy bugs.
Mainly the danger of the mealy bugs is from the female species because they stick to the plant. Also they are a reason of various diseases that succulents suffer from. There are many ways in which mealy bugs can be dealt but the best and the simplest way is using alcohol.
It not only removes the mealy bugs from the depth but also ensures that the succulent is not damaged. Mealy bugs are easy to deal with if the correct measure is applied at the right time.