Mealybugs on succulents – A deadly scare to your gorgeous succulents
A glossy, sturdy succulent, star of every eye, spreading its charm all over the place, and with its firm structure bringing vibrancy into the dull atmosphere of the indoors.
The only difference is, the former description of the succulent belongs to a time when it does not have mealybugs, and after infestation, you know the picture.
It is sad to see the lovelies of your garden deteriorate and die slowly in front of your eyes. You have put so much effort, time, and care into them, from seeing them shooting over the soil to bloom a bright variety of blossoms, you have witnessed all. And now, seeing their downfall is a hard time for any succulent lover.
Your succulents are haunted several times a year by mealybugs; people try different methods to get rid of them.
Some are difficult, but some are pretty easy, but before one can judge the effectiveness of one, they should know details about mealy bugs.
What are they, why they come again and again, what season and surroundings do they prefer to spread, etc.? After that only, we could better understand the effectiveness of the methods to contain them. So, we are starting with the most basic question.
WHAT ARE MEALYBUGS?
Mealybugs are white, cottony, fluffy bugs that love to stick to fleshy parts of your succulents, majorly the stems, as they do not like sunlight.
Being near to stem saves them from the direct rays of sunlight and also brings them close to old leaves near the stem.
Mealybugs feed on the stalk of a succulent till it deteriorates to nothing, and finally results in an under-nourished plant with deformed leaves.
They are like a plague, and they spread very quickly from one succulent to another, and it could be quite tough to get rid of them.
Mostly, mealybugs are big enough to see from a naked eye, but sometimes they are hard to see due to their small size and the dark and damp habitat.
It is better, therefore, to keep a regular check on any new deformity arising in your succulent.
WHY SUCCULENTS GET INFESTED BY MEALY BUGS?
Overwatering and underwatering both could be the reason behind the growth of mealy bugs.
However, as the dark and damp places near the stem under the covering of top leaves, which are a perfect breeding ground for the mealybugs, it is considered that moist conditions welcome these stem eaters.
But, the reality is, too dry soil also attracts these bugs, so one should take care of the watering conditions of the succulent.
They do not reside on top of the leaves, as sunlight falling on them might kill them.
DOES MEALYBUGS INFESTATION BELONG TO ANY PARTICULAR SEASON?
Generally, mealy bugs love moist conditions. Therefore, humid and cold conditions with limited sunlight are favorable to their growth.
Also, it is a fact that they hatch in the cold and moist season, not in summers; this is why winters are their favorite season to commence the attack.
Winters become even more favorable to them, as many of the home gardeners have got the habit of watering their succulents regularly in winters.
Even though most of the succulents go to hibernation in winters, and need less water and nourishment in this period.
A damp atmosphere due to overwatering and minimal access to sunlight becomes a feasible duration for them to breed. Also, caring is minimal at this time, so their presence gets overlooked sometimes.
COMMON ITEMS TO BE USED FOR IMMEDIATE CONTROL OF SPREAD MEALYBUGS ON SUCCULENTS
Mealybugs have haunted the succulents for quite a time, and due to their repetitive attacks over a plant, they are considered quite lethal for their existence.
Check your succulents regularly for their infestation. And if one finds their presence in their succulents, proper and immediate action should be taken to destroy their growth.
According to experts, one of the least harmful methods to eradicate these creatures from your succulent is the proper use of rubbing alcohol.
Rubbing alcohol, a commonly found item at a home gardener place, is quite a useful item when it comes to culminate the infestation of mealy bugs.
Its proper use in the affected areas of the succulent and the places where mealybug growth is maximum can control their scare effectively.
Rubbing alcohol solution with 70 % of isopropyl alcohol in it is preferred for this purpose.
HOW TO USE RUBBING ALCOHOL FOR MAXIMUM EFFECTIVENESS MEALYBUGS ON SUCCULENTS
As we know, mealybugs are found mostly near the stem of the succulents, so it is preferable to apply the rubbing alcohol on the affected parts of it with the help of a cotton swab.
Cotton swab helps in uniformly spreading the solution on lower parts of the plant, and also, it kind of rubs down the affected areas in the process.
However, some succulent growers may find it quite hard when they have to take care of short sized succulents that have close-packed leaves.
The stem of these succulents are hard to reach with a cotton swab; in that case, experts suggest that we should pour the alcoholic solution in a mid-sized spray bottle. And then spray it over the infected parts of the plant by gently making way through leaves, with the help of our other hand or tweezers.
IS RUBBING ALCOHOL SAFE FOR THE PLANTS?
Rubbing alcohol hurts the mealybugs, it is acidic, and it burns them, but that does also creates a common confusion among the succulent lovers, that it may harm their plants also.
Facts say alcohol percentage in 70 % isopropyl alcohol solution is harmful enough for the mealybugs only and not for the plant leaves and stem.
Rubbing alcohol evaporates into the air after some time, leaving only water traces over the plant. But, it does the job of killing the mealybugs on your succulent, efficiently.
Along with rubbing alcohol, insecticidal soap is also quite a popular option to contain their growth.
It is mild for the plants but attacks harshly on mealybugs and also keeps them free from some other insects and infections.
Methods like spraying the solution or applying through cotton swabs are suitable for it.
One can also go for acidic water like acidic rainwater or acidic distilled water; it also helps in eradicating the mealybug population from the succulents. Also, its acidic content is low enough to be suitable for the plants. You can spray it to affected areas of the plant for a quick resolution.
Additional tips to take care of your succulents
- When you spray rubbing alcohol, insecticidal soap, and other solution on your succulents, some part of its falls on the leaves, it will evaporate in the case of alcohol. But it may leave some residue afterward, which may interfere with the photosynthesis procedure.
- The process of plants to make food, without which their growth may suffer. So, to avoid this situation, you can wash the leaves with a spray of water after you are sure that the mealybug’s scare is averted completely.
- Water spray will wash away residue, soap particles, etc. giving you bright-colored leaves for the coming days.
- Old leaves that have fallen from the succulent are a readymade buffet for these bugs, so regular removal of fallen leaves may also help you avoid their attack.
- Old leaves that have fallen can be picked easily from the soil bed by hands, and in case of close-packed succulents where hands could not reach, one can use tweezers to pick those leaves.
- Always remember to timely check your succulents for mealybug infestation because they attack it repeatedly over the year. So, do not be completely relaxed after successful removal. They can come back to haunt your succulent growth; a little care will ensure a thriving future for them.
You can have a garden full of healthy and thriving succulents if you keep noticing any issues or deformities coming up in them. And with the help of methods and tips in this blog, you can see your healthy and bright succulent turning into a blossoming paradise one day.
For more details, you can refer to the video: