White Bugs on Succulents

White Bugs on Succulents

Succulents are the preferred plants of many plant enthusiasts because they come in an array of colors and shapes. They also make great indoor plants since they are able to survive dry conditions. However, their thick, fleshy parts make them easy targets for pests that feed on the juices of plants. White bugs like mealybugs and whiteflies are common invaders that could bring great damage to your plants if they are not removed.

Common Types of White Bugs on Succulents 

If you are finding white bugs on your succulents, it may be one of the following:

Mealybugs

Mealybugs are white, fuzzy, cotton-like pests that can bring a lot of damage if a large number of these bugs populate your plants. These pests are known to feast on both indoor and outdoor succulents. They are soft-bodied, segmented, and covered with powdery wax and filaments around their edges. 

These slow-moving pests feed and suck on the sap of leaves,  excreting honeydew as they feed on the plants. This further aggravates the situation since the honeydew tends to attract other pests, such as ants. These bugs multiply easily since the females can lay up to 600 eggs at a time. Affected plants should be treated at once to prevent a massive infestation. 

Mealybugs are also called tiny white bugs, millie bugs, citrus mealybugs, and pink hibiscus bugs. Aside from white, they may also come in colors such as brown, cream-colored, pink, olive-green, or yellow. Some people mistake adult mealybugs as fungus or powdery mildew, but they are actually seeing clumps of bugs that move around and feed on the sap of succulents. These bugs may also hide under the soil and feed on the roots and root crowns.

Whiteflies

These soft-bodied, winged insects are not a type of fly, although they are capable of flying and have wings. They are Hemipterans that make up the family Aleyrodidae with more than 1,550 species. These bugs are just about 1/12 of an inch and are often found in clusters on the undersides of leaves. They are easier to spot than other pests since they are active during the day and scatter easily when disturbed. 

Whiteflies use their piercing mouthparts to suck plant juices and produce a sugary substance called honeydew that can promote fungal growth, such sooty mold. Plants are unable to carry out photosynthesis if there is a heavy infestation of these pests. The leaves become wilted, turn yellow, and eventually shrink and drop off. 

How do I get rid of white bugs on succulents?

These are some measures you can take to take to get rid of white bugs on your succulents:

1, Isolate the affected plants. 

Once you notice a heavy pest infestation in your succulents, you should isolate the affected ones. Quarantine them and keep them in an area away from other plants to avoid spreading the pestilence.  

2. Rinse the plants with a high-powered water sprayer.

Spray the affected plants with water set to high pressure. This is usually enough to remove the white bugs on succulents. However, this may only work on a short-term basis; you need to repeat the process a few times. 

3. Clean and sanitize the pots and let them dry off. 

Clean and sanitize the pots with hot, soapy water.  Also, clean the plants to remove any traces of white bugs. Once the pots are dry, you can replant. 

4. Replant the plants using fresh succulent soil. 

Replant the cleaned succulents using fresh soil.  Discard the old soil as it may still contain pests.

5. Spray the newly replanted plants with repellents. 

These are some of the common repellents used for treating white bugs on succulents:

  • Rubbing alcohol – Use 70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol. Dilute it with some water, then spray it on the succulents. You can wipe the stems and leaves using some cotton balls or Q-tips dipped in rubbing alcohol. 
  • Liquid dish soap- Simply mix some liquid dish soap with water and spray the solution on the plants. It effectively eliminates white bugs on succulents. Repeat the process regularly until you do not see traces of the pests. 
  • Neem oil – Neem oil is an essential oil that is effective in eradicating white bugs and other pests from your succulents. Simply dilute a few drops with a cup of water and spray on the affected plants. Repeat as necessary until there are no traces of the bugs. 

Do not spray the plants when there is full sun. Place the treated plants in a shaded area or where there is indirect sunlight.  Neem oil can also cause sunburn to your plants if you spray it during the peak sunlight hours.  Check and monitor the treated plants so that the pests won’t come back. 

If the infestation is so heavy and many plants have already been affected, your last resort should be to get rid of the affected plants to avoid infecting the other remaining healthy plants in your garden. 

Other Common Types of Pests on Succulents 

These are other common types of pests that invade succulents:

  • Aphids 
  • Fungus gnats 
  • Scale
  • Spider Mites 
  • Ants 

Conclusion  

Succulents may be drought-resistant and able to survive with minimal attention, but they are not spared from pests and diseases.  White bugs on succulents, such as mealybugs and whiteflies, are known to feed on the plants’ sap, multiply, and take over the plants rapidly.  Minimal infestations can be easily resolved with homemade solutions like isopropyl rubbing alcohol, liquid soap, or neem oil. However, for very heavy infestations, the last resort is to get rid of the damaged plants to avoid the spread of the infestation. 

  Image: istockphoto.com / SingerGM