Yes, succulents can attract flies, especially when there is too much water in the soil. Flies find this type of environment very conducive for breeding.
The easiest way to avoid the presence of flies on your succulents is to make sure that it is never overwatered. Not only does this prevent flies; it also prevents the development of root rot.
If you have a problem keeping flies from your succulents and you want to learn more about how to solve this problem, then keep reading.
Why are there flies on my succulents?
- Poor drainage
One of the main reasons your succulents have flies is because your soil and pot probably have bad drainage.
Remember that succulents are native to some of the driest, most arid places on earth and their leaves are designed to store water for times of extended drought. This means they do not need to be watered as often as most plants.
Succulents also need very good drainage, which includes a well-draining potting mix. The potting mix should have a layer of grit that allows water to flow to the bottom of the pot and not stay in the soil itself.
There should also be drainage holes at the bottom of the pot for the excess water to flow out of, so that the plant’s roots are not constantly standing in stagnant water.
When a succulent has bad drainage, the soil remains perpetually waterlogged and, combined with the organic components present in the soil, this is the ideal breeding ground for flies.
Even if your succulent has a well-draining potting mix and the pot has drainage holes, you can still overwater it if you give it water more often than you need to.
In this case, you are not giving the plant’s roots time to dry out in between waterings, which they need to do for the plant to survive.
Plants’ roots need to be able to get access to oxygen, and when the roots are always sitting in soggy, they cannot do this. They will then drown, and the plant could even die from root rot.
- Fungi growing on the soil
Another effect of constantly wet soil is the presence of fungi, to which flies will be attracted as a food source.
Fungi love to grow in dark, dank environments, so the base of an overwatered succulent is a perfect place for them to grow.
The fungi will populate the soil, the plant’s roots, and the base of the plant, and before you know it you will have dozens of flies buzzing around your succulent.
- The succulent and its surroundings are unclean
Flies are attracted to dirty surfaces and they look for food wherever they detect anything rotting or decomposing.
It might not seem like much, but neglecting to clean dead leaves and foliage from the base of your succulent can also attract flies to your succulent.
Make sure always to remove any debris piling underneath your plant before it starts to decompose there.
- Your fertilizer is attracting flies
This is one of the more straightforward reasons there are flies on your succulent.
If you are using organic fertilizer that has manure in it, then naturally flies will gravitate towards the smell, since this is also a food source for these insects.
How to deter flies from your succulents
Allow the soil to dry out
Before anything else, stop watering the plant immediately and allow the soil to dry out. If there is too much water, you can use paper towels to absorb it.
Keep dabbing with paper towels until the top layer of the soil feels dry. Start sifting through the soil to reveal any moisture in the middle layers and use paper towels to remove that as well.
You can also help the plant dry out faster by placing it in a spot where it can get plenty of sunlight. The light and heat from the sun will make the water in the soil evaporate faster.
Remove the flies
While there are chemical insecticides you can use to remove the flies from your succulent, your plant is better off with minimal contact with harsh chemicals.
Put on some gloves and dig through the soil in the succulent’s pot to remove the flies, along with their larvae, one by one.
This may seem disgusting, but it is necessary so that the flies no longer reproduce on your plant.
Repot the succulent
If you cannot be bothered to sift through the dirt to manually remove fly larvae, you can also just repot the plant.
Remove the succulent from its old pot and wash off as much of the potting soil as you can. Dispose of the old soil properly and do not use it again.
Inspect all of the roots and use a sterile pair of scissors to prune off any root sections that have turned brown or black, because those are rotten.
Lay the plant on a paper towel and allow the roots to dry for a few hours.
Wash the old pot to make sure that none of the old soil is left. Refill the pot with fresh, well-draining potting mix and replant the succulent.
Do not water the succulent for a week, or until the soil has completely dried out.
How to keep flies away from succulents
In order to keep flies from making your succulent their home, you should check on the plant every time you water it for signs of an insect infestation.
Remove any bugs or larvae that you see in the soil, as soon as you see them. Do not give them the luxury of time to reproduce and multiply.
At the first sign of flies around your succulents, lay down some yellow sticky traps to control their spread.
Refrain from using fertilizers with manure content. If this is the reason flies are attracted to your succulents, it is best to just do away with it for good.
Make sure the succulent’s pot has drainage holes at the bottom. If it does not, you can use a drill to make quarter-inch holes in it. Multiple holes of this size can make a huge difference in improving the drainage for your plant, thereby keeping flies away.
Yes, succulents attract flies, especially if the plant is overwatered. The moist environment is a perfect breeding ground for flies, because fungi also grow in these conditions and are a food source for flies and their larvae.
Flies are also drawn to an unclean plant with lots of rotten debris around its base, as well as to plants that are fertilized with manure.
Remove flies from your succulents by allowing the soil to dry out, manually removing any visible flies and larvae, or simply repotting the plant with fresh, well-draining soil and disposing of the old soil.
Keep flies away from your succulents by making sure you do not overwater the plant and only use well-draining soil and a pot that has drainage holes at the bottom.
Keep the plant clean of any debris, remove any flies the moment you see them using sticky traps, and refrain from using fertilizer that contains manure.
Image: istockphoto.com / CasPhotography