How To Get Rid of Mealybugs On Succulents [GUIDE]

Here’s the deal with mealybugs on Succulent…

Even succulent house plants often have problems with mealybugs, a type of scale insect which sucks the juices from plants and causes stunting, yellowing, and deformed leaves.

Bad infestations cause leaves to fall off.

mealybugs feeding on succulent leaves

Mealybugs are hard to spot on succulents because they hide in cracks and crevices between leaves.

It can take a while for their damage to become apparent, and untreated mealy bug infestations will have a severe impact on a succulent plant possibly killing it.

How Can You Recognize Mealybugs?

Inspect your succulents often to catch mealybugs as soon as they appear. More on how to kill mealy bugs.

Look for a fluffy white, yellowish or brownish cottony substance seeming to be fungus or some other inert matter.

Hiding underneath the fluffy stuff is tiny little scale insects.

For such a tiny bug, mealybugs have a reasonably long lifecycle.

The full lifecycle can take a little over two months.

New eggs will mature within a week or two, hatch out as nymphs and then, within the next 6 to 9 weeks, become adults, lay eggs and start the cycle over again.

It’s challenging to see the nymphs and impossible to see the eggs, so a mealybug population becomes quite large before you ever notice you have a problem.

Quite a bit of damage is often done before this common pest is large enough to see.

How Do Mealybugs Infest Succulents?

For such tiny insects, mealybugs can travel rather quickly and far.

If there are any mealybugs outdoors near your succulent collection (either planted outdoors or placed outdoors to enjoy the sunshine), they can easily access it by being blown about on loose vegetation in the wind.

They climb quite nimbly from one plant to another.

For indoor plants, it’s possible for mealybugs to invade from a number of different sources including:

  • Ants may carry mealybugs into your home to “farm” them on your succulents, cacti, or other houseplants.
  • They like to eat the honeydew produced by the scale insects and leave behind a sooty substance instead.
  • When you purchase new growth, you may inadvertently bring mealybugs home with you from the new plant roots.
  • If you reuse potting soil, it may be infested with mealybug eggs or nymphs.
  • When you purchase produce or flowers at a farmer’s market or bring them in from your garden, you may bring in mealybugs.

How Can You Get Rid of Mealybugs On Succulents?

As mentioned, it’s essential to inspect your plants frequently in order to catch a mealy bug infestation before it gets out of hand.

Check creases, joints and hiding places in the leaves, and brush away a little of the soil around the stem to be sure mealybugs aren’t hiding there.

As soon as you suspect mealybugs, gnats, whiteflies, spider mites, or other aphids are present, you should quarantine affected plants.

It’s easy to kill mealybug problems on succulents with several different, affordable home remedies.

One of the easiest substances to use for pest control is rubbing alcohol.

If you have a minimal mealybug infestation, dip a cotton swab or q-tip in rubbing alcohol and rub it directly over the offending plant pests.

While you have the q-tip out go ahead and treat the nooks and crannies.

It will kill them on contact.

You’ll need to inspect and treat frequently to be sure you’ve gotten them.

Some enthusiasts spray infested plants with straight rubbing alcohol.

This can work on some plants, but be advised some succulents have a gray waxy coating which is negatively impacted by the use of pure rubbing alcohol.

Be sure to test the substance on an out-of-the-way location on the plant before spraying the entire plant.

If mealybugs have infested the soil around your plant, you may want to use rubbing alcohol as a soil drench to eradicate them.

Avoid chemical insecticides so you don’t kill beneficial insects such as ladybugs.

How To Kill Mealy Bugs With Rubbing Alcohol!

An alternative solution to biological controls for mealy bug problems is a concoction made of pure Castile liquid soap and water. Learn how to make a castile soap spray.

Just a teaspoon of liquid dish soap in a quart of water used in a spray bottle with a strong stream of water can help.

As with rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol), be sure to test a small area of the plant before spraying the entire plant.

For a severe infestation, unpot the plant and give it a proper washing under running water, roots and all.

Follow this up with a soak in water and liquid soap solution and then allow the plant to dry for a few days in a warm, dry setting with good air circulation.

Examine the plant carefully for any remaining mealy bug infestation and treat it as needed.

Repotting the plant in a new pot with all new succulent mix.

To be on the safe side, keep it quarantined for another couple of weeks to make sure no mealybug eggs or nymphs were lurking.

Neem Oil Can Keep Mealybugs Away

Rubbing alcohol and insecticidal soap are good for killing off existing mealybugs, but they won’t keep them away.

Use Neem oil spray to kill existing bugs and prevent further infestation of mealybugs.

Read How To use Neem Oil on Plants.

A neem oil mix can be used as a soil drench to kill off mealybugs in soil.

Mealybugs On Succulents – Signs And Solutions

Be Careful Not To Overwater!

Help keep mealybugs under control with proper plant care.

Mealybugs are attracted to plants, and especially succulents which are overwatered or fertilized too much.

Overwatered succulents are weakened and may develop root rot.

This attracts mealybugs and other pests.

Sanitize Your Environment

In addition to eradicating mealybug infestations on your succulents, you must also get rid of any mealybugs lurking on pots, drip saucers and the surface where your plants reside.

Whenever you notice a mealy bug infestation, be sure to examine all pots and paraphernalia for signs of mealy bug presence.

Succulent Echeveria in bloom are magnets for aphids.

After examing your surfaces and other plants seclude the healthy plants away from the others.

Wipe everything down with rubbing alcohol to kill off mealybugs on surfaces.

Be sure to inspect and wipe down all surfaces around your succulent and houseplant collection on a regular basis.

Mealybugs can secrete themselves in cracks and crevices and exist in a dormant state for a very long time.

For this reason, they may return full force even after you believe your infestation has been dealt with.

Vigilance and good housekeeping practices will keep mealybugs under control.