Mealybugs are a problem for both indoor and outdoor plants. It is important to be able to identify mealybugs early in the infestation and to avoid them spreading to other plants. If there appears to be white fluffy cotton or cobwebs on your plant, we’re sorry to say it’s mealybugs. Often it can seem that they appeared overnight – sneaky little devils. If you do see these little white nests, it’s time to take action!
Let’s talk non-toxic, natural, and even homemade remedies that can get your babe bug-free once again! Before we begin, remember that step one is always to quarantine your succulent, as these nasty insects can easily spread and affect all of your succs. And the last step of all of these treatments is repotting. Mealybugs can live in the top layer of soil, so repotting will ensure you get rid of any buggers trying to hide.
Wipe Away Nests
This important step must be taken before any other remedy is begun. Gently wipe away all visible mealybug nests and insects using cotton balls or swabs.
Mealybugs are killed on contact by 70% isopropyl alcohol. Dip your Q-Tip in the alcohol and gently remove those white cobweb-y nests. Be sure to check underneath the leaves and have a few Q-Tips on hand to rotate through so you’re not spreading remains from one leaf to another.
Wash Away with Water
Wash away the bugs with a steady stream of water. This can work really well for a light infestation. Since you’ll want to repot your mealy bugs infested plant anyway, this is a great opportunity to give your succulents, roots and all, a good rinse. This method only uses water and is a 100% non-toxic treatment! Just let the plant dry out on a towel and wipe away any remaining nests or bugs before repotting.
Homemade Mealybug Spray
This method is a great alternative to isopropyl alcohol, and uses ingredients you probably already have around your kitchen! Here’s how to make it:
- Blend 1 garlic bulb, small onion, and 1 tsp of cayenne pepper into a paste.
- Mix with water and allow to steep for 1 hour.
- Strain and add 1 tbsp of dish soap – we recommend Castile soap to keep this solution as additive-free as possible.
- Spray onto your succulent. This spray will last for one week in the fridge and may be used as necessary.
- Wipe away any remaining nests and bugs from the plant using a cotton ball or swab.
Diluted Castile Soap
Castile soap is a great remedy to remove nasty mites. Use a soap-free of fragrances and additives that may harm succulents. Dilute with water – start with 1 tsp/gal and increase if necessary. Spray the soapy mixture onto your plant babes. Wipe away any remaining nests and bugs from the plant using a cotton ball or swab.
Neem oil is a natural insecticide that is also antifungal! It is an oil derived from neem trees that protects your succs in two ways. Neem oil goes a step further than just killing the pests on contact, it also works as a systemic pesticide as it gets absorbed into the plant and will continue killing bugs. Wipe away any remaining nests and bugs from the plant using a cotton ball or swab.
Now that we have conquered the party crashers, let’s talk about preventing future infestations.
Pruning Dead Leaves
When succulent leaves are dead or on the decline, they will turn yellow, become slightly soft, and then eventually dry up. Pruning away those leaves can really help to deter pests, and allows for your plant to use its energy for more important things like growing happy healthy leaves!
Do not overwater your succulents! Overwatering causes a multitude of issues for your babes. If the soil doesn’t have time to dry out between waterings it will remain damp, making the perfect home for moisture-loving mealybugs. Gentle reminder these guys grow in the desert and are used to having a low water supply, so err on the side of underwatering if you’re unsure.
Be sure not to over-fertilize your succs. When fertilizing you should always use half of the recommended amount. Over-fertilizing can cause the roots to become mushy, and mealybugs are attracted to soft growth with high nitrogen levels.
That’s the scoop on natural remedies to get rid of those measly mealybugs! But remember, the best way to keep your babes healthy and happy is with proper care and the use of prevention tactics. Ready for more succulents now that we can remove and prevent pests? Get $5 off your first box now!