For the most part, common succulents are pest free; however, their plump juicy leaves can sometimes serve as a temptation for aphids.
Succulents, like the echeveria plant while in bloom, are a huge magnet for aphids.
These tiny pests are often found crowded together in clusters on the undersides of all sorts of plant leaves.
Aphids hide there to prevent being eaten by predators or washed away by rain.
In this article, we describe aphids and share information to help you avoid, deal and get rid of aphids on your succulent plants or new growth.
Read on to learn more.
What Are Aphids?
Aphids on plants are tiny, soft-bodied pests. They’re usually very pale green, but some types come in yellow, black or even pink.
Most species of aphids are wingless and crawl slowly over plants.
Occasionally, you may see winged aphids, or whiteflies if an infestation gets out of control.
When the population becomes too dense, some aphids grow wings to fly away and find new food sources.
In addition to the damage aphids cause individual plants, they carry viruses from one plant to another while migrating.
Aphids use their piercing mouthparts to poke holes in plants and suck out the sap.
They love new plant growth.
A light infestation can leave succulent houseplants shriveled and stunted.
A heavy infestation left untreated is difficult to remove since they lay eggs, and will kill your plant.
In addition to the damage to the plants, aphids leave a sticky residue substance known as honeydew.
This substance is an excretory matter which causes plants to feel sticky.
The honeydew may also sour and develop into a fungal infection known as sooty mold, which blocks light and obstructs photosynthesis.
Other pests which love succulents are:
- Spider Mites
- Scale Insects
- Fungus Gnats
Read our article for more and killing pests on succulent plants.
How To Detect Aphids On Succulents
Inspect! Examine your plants every day or two and look for these tiny invaders in creases and crevices.
If you catch them early, they will not cause too much grief.
Be on the lookout for ants! Ants like to eat the honeydew excreted by aphids.
If you see a trail of ants coming and going from one of your plants, aphids live there.
Watch for sooty mold!
If your succulents develop a coating of dark, dirty looking matter, aphids are the cause.
What Can You Do To Get Rid Of Succulent Aphids?
Luckily, aphids are pretty easy to deal with since they have a short life cycle.
Home pest control methods are often enough but vigilance is critical.
If you see aphids, get rid of them by giving your plant a proper washing with a strong stream of water.
Of course, this can cause a dilemma because you don’t want to overwater succulent plants.
Another solution is to make an all natural aphid spray using the following ingredients:
- Two cups of water
- One teaspoonful of vegetable oil
- One teaspoonful of liquid dishwashing liquid
Combine these ingredients in a spray bottle, shake vigorously, and mist the entire plant.
This spray will not work unless it comes in direct contact with the pests.
Make sure not to miss any surface, cracks or crevices as this is where aphids hide.
This simple treatment works because the dish soap destroys the aphids’ protective coatings causing them to dehydrate.
Furthermore, the oil clogs their breathing apparatus (spiracles), causing them to suffocate.
For an even more powerful version of the spray, substitute horticultural oil or Neem oil for the vegetable oil.
Add a pinch of cayenne pepper for a bit more punch.
After several hours, wipe the plants’ leaves with a slightly damp cloth to remove excess soapy residue.
Repeat this treatment every two or three days until you no longer see any sign of aphids.
At this time, give your plant a good rinse to remove excess soap and oil.
These substances are not just damaging to aphids. They’re damaging to your plant if left in place too long.
The Rubbing Alcohol Solution
Kill aphids with plain rubbing alcohol (70% isopropyl alcohol solution).
Apply rubbing alcohol as a spray, as you would on a succulent mealybug infestation, or use a cotton swab to wipe aphids out of cracks and crevices and off leaves.
For a DIY insecticidal soap spray and rubbing alcohol spray combine the following:
- Five cups of water
- Two cups of rubbing alcohol
- One tablespoonful of liquid soap
Shake the ingredients up in a spray bottle and follow the instructions given for the water insect killing soap, and oil spray.
When free of aphids wash the plant thoroughly and wait a few days to let the plant dry out before repotting in a fresh potting mix.
If all else fails use a systemic insecticide as a last resort.
Before spraying anything over your succulent or cacti, make sure to test a small area first.
Some succulents are sensitive to soap, oil, and rubbing alcohol.
This is especially true of succulents with a dusty coating.
This coating may get damaged and disrupted by the use of any of these ingredients.
What About Outdoor Aphids?
It’s unusual to see aphids on succulents outdoors unless the plants are in an inferior location where they’re not receiving enough sunlight and air circulation.
Aphids like cool, damp, sheltered settings.
If you see aphids on your succulents outdoors, relocate the plants.
Additionally, you can engage the help of good bugs such as:
These beneficial insects will destroy an aphid population and will keep numerous other common pests under control.
Natural Topical Aphid Treatments For Outdoor Succulents
Outdoor succulents suffering from aphid infestation may be effectively treated by dusting with plain flour.
When aphids ingest flour, it blocks their internal functions, causing their demise.
A dusting of diatomaceous earth (DE) insecticide is also useful, but don’t apply it to plants in bloom because it will kill pollinators.
Likewise, with a good population of good garden bugs on site, don’t use DE because it will kill them.
What About Chemicals?
Chemical control is very seldom necessary in dealing with a succulent aphid infestation.
These tiny, soft-bodied insects are relatively delicate and quite easy to kill without poison.
Because they dislike hot, dry weather, you may find they appear and disappear seasonally.