Nobody likes it when unwelcome guests crash the party.
That’s basically what a mealybug is: a white, cobweb-y, moisture-sucking, unwelcome, garden crasher. As one of the most common succulent issues, it’s important to know how to identify, remove, and prevent mealybugs. Let’s start with the basics:
A Mealybug is a scale insect, found all over the U.S. and infesting a large variety of plants. It feeds on the moisture inside its host plant and has the ability to kill the plant, sucking it dry if left unchecked. They can often be found where the leaf connects to the stem or anywhere there’s new growth on your succulent. The most apparent characteristic of a mealybug is its white color, though it can also be light pink or a bright yellow-green. The second hard-to-miss sign you’ve got mealybugs are the white egg sacs that look like cotton. Females can lay up to 100 eggs per sac, so if you see these it’s definitely time to TAKE ACTION!
How to get rid of them
1) Quarantine your succulent. This first step is super important. Mealybugs spread quickly, and they are very good at hiding in soil and other crevices. Make sure they don’t get to the rest of your plant fam by isolating your infected succulent(s).
2) Spray your succulent with 70% isopropyl alcohol. You can typically find this at your local drug store or on Amazon. The alcohol must come in direct contact with the mealybug in order to kill it, which is why a spray works so well.
3) Use a cotton swab to gently remove the mealybugs from your succulent. If you want to be extra cautious, you can dip the cotton swab in alcohol to ensure it kills the mealybug.
4) Transplant your succulent to a well-draining pot with new, dry cactus soil. Because mealybugs are so good at hiding and enjoy drinking from roots and leaves alike, they could still be in the soil after you’ve removed them from the surface of the plant. If you don’t have a spare pot on hand, simply pop your newly cleansed succulent out and set it aside while you clean out its pot and fill it with new soil.
If you haven’t had to deal with mealybugs and want to keep it that way, make sure your succulents are in well-draining soil and pots. Mealybugs are attracted to moist, damp environments, so using cactus soil and a pot with a drainage hole is a super helpful deterrent. It’s also worth doing a once-over on any new houseplants you might be bringing home.
As always, let us know if you have any questions or concerns about your succulents!