Imagine my surprise when I came across a major mealybug infestation on my succulents. Mealybugs on succulents are not rare, however I was surprised to see just how many I (or rather my aeoniums) had to deal with! I was cleaning up some plants and as I turned this container a half turn, bam! There they were.
How did I get mealybugs on my succulents?
That’s a good question. Quite honestly, they’ve probably always been there, but just not in these numbers. Stressed plants are going to be more favorable to mealybugs, so that may be an indicator which plants need some care. Mealybugs on succulents is common and since I did bring in a lot of plants from outside this fall, I may have accidentally brought these pests indoors too.
When we lived in Florida it wasn’t uncommon to have an outbreak in the landscape occasionally. Hibiscus are especially prone to this and you can see how I dealt with those HERE.
What do mealybugs look like?
Mealybugs look like little pieces of cotton stuck to the plant. They are often found along the stem and where leaves attach to the stem is a really good place to look. The mealybugs shown here have found a nice protected place under the canopy of the leaves on this aeonium. Outdoors it would provide them protection from the elements, in my house it provides them a place to hide where I am not likely to see them!
According to California Extension, “Mealybugs suck sap from plant phloem, reducing plant vigor, and they excrete sticky honeydew and wax, which reduces plant and fruit quality, especially when black sooty mold grows on the honeydew. Large accumulations of mealybugs, their egg sacs, and wax can be unattractive. High populations feeding on foliage or stems can slow plant growth and cause leaf drop; however, healthy plants can tolerate low populations without significant damage. ”
How do I get rid of mealybugs on succulents?
The supplies for this are simple: Rubbing alcohol and Q-tips.
I like to pour some of the rubbing alcohol into the cap and then use the Q-tip to soak up as much as possible. Then, simply touch the wet tip to the mealybugs. Sometimes they will turn black instantly (my favorite!) and if there are a lot you can kind of wipe them up with this.
This is also a good time to look for any dead or yellowing leaves that might have collections of these mealybugs on them. I just remove these and throw them in the trash in combination with the alcohol rub down.
Once cleaned the plant looks great again. I will keep my eye on it for a few weeks to come back and treat any mealybugs that were missed.
What a simple and easy way to treat mealybugs on succulents without introducing unwanted chemicals or pesticides into your home.
Good info to have on-hand. Have only had this happen once – on an adopted orchid and the rubbing alcohol swab was very effective.