How to get rid of mealy bugs and other pests on succulents

Discover an effortless approach to eliminating mealy bugs from your succulents without risking damage to the plants.

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The standard approach to addressing mealybugs can be effective for most pests, but there are alternative solutions available as well.

    If you’re growing succulents, chances are you’ll eventually come across mealybugs – unless you’re one of the lucky few who don’t.

    Mealybugs can be quite a nuisance, as they can rapidly spread from one plant to the next. It can be tough to eradicate them, however I’ve discovered a straightforward and effective way of controlling them while keeping your succulents safe from any adverse effects that may be caused by using harsh pesticides.

    What are mealybugs?

    Mealybugs can be a nuisance for succulents, often eating new growth. The exact cause of their presence is uncertain, but overwatering and over-fertilizing are likely contributors. These pests are more likely to appear indoors, where temperatures are more temperate, yet they can also be found on outdoor succulents.

    These diminutive creatures tend to inhabit the crevices of your succulent, making their homes in a silken white web. They can often be found tucked away at the junction between leaves and stem, making them difficult to detect or eliminate.

    If not addressed quickly, mealybugs will quickly spread from one succulent to others in the area. This is both an impressive and irritating feat, as they feed off the succulent and impede its development. If left for an extended period of time, the plant may experience stunted growth, misshapen new growth, and pitted leaves.

    How can I get rid of mealybugs?

    How can I get rid of mealybugs?

    Instead of using plant pesticides to get rid of mealybugs, I’ve found that using 70% isopropyl alcohol is the most effective solution. Applying the alcohol with a spray bottle is much simpler than using q-tips, and it gets the job done faster.

    I keep a small spray bottle of insecticide on hand near my plants so I can quickly eradicate any pests that show up. I use a bigger one if the infestation is extensive or affects a lot of plants.

    It is advisable to separate any infested plants from other plants as soon as you spot mealybugs since they can spread quickly and you don’t want the infection to spread.

    To get rid of the mealybugs on your succulent, apply rubbing alcohol by spraying it directly onto the insects.

    Make sure you take a close look at all of the nooks and crannies around the stem. Give them a good dousing with the alcohol and the spider’s web-like substance should vanish almost immediately, leaving behind a tiny brown or black bug, about the size of a crumb.

    If you catch the mealybugs in their early stages, one application of alcohol spray should be enough to exterminate them. However, if you don’t manage to get rid of all of them, they may return within a couple of days. To ensure they don’t come back, keep spraying them until the infestation is gone.

    It may be beneficial to add some alcohol to the water you use for watering if you have had a severe bug infestation. This will eliminate any pests or eggs that may be present in the soil.

    Doesn’t the alcohol damage the succulent?

    No, there is no need to worry about using alcohol as a pesticide for succulents. Unlike other pesticides, alcohol is perfectly safe for succulents.

    I have treated a few plants that were infested with mealybugs with alcohol without any signs of burning or damage. Since the alcohol evaporates quickly, all that is left is a bit of water, which won’t cause any harm if applied with a spray bottle.

    Are there other ways to kill mealybugs?

    Yes, adding a small amount of dish soap to water and spraying or dabbing it on can be an effective way to help remove mealybugs. Alternatively, systemic pesticides specifically designed for house plants can also be used. Another natural solution is to introduce lady bugs, which are known to help keep mealybugs away.

    I strongly suggest using rubbing alcohol as the most cost-effective way to get rid of mealybugs and protect your succulents. It is the only approach I’m sure will eradicate the pests and not hurt your plants.

    Other Pests

    Other pests that may affect succulents include aphids, spider mites, scale insects, and whiteflies.

    Gnats or Fruit Flies

    This video will show you why your succulent soil is home to gnats and what you can do to get rid of them. Many succulent growers experience this frustrating issue, and this video will provide an easy solution.

    To prevent the larvae from attacking your succulents, make sure to allow the soil to become completely dry between waterings. This will also help to kill any larvae already present. Your succulents can go a few days or even weeks without water and still remain healthy.

    Put the cup near the gnats and let the vinegar do its work.

    To get rid of the pesky gnats, try an apple cider vinegar trap. Fill a plastic cup with a few tablespoons of vinegar and add a few drops of dish soap. Place a plastic bag over the cup, with a small hole the size of your finger. Place the cup in the vicinity of the gnats and the vinegar will take care of them.

    The vinegar’s enticing aroma draws in gnats, while the dish soap serves as an effective barrier, making it challenging for them to escape.

    You can add food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) on top of the soil to eliminate any adult or larval bugs that try to make contact with it.

    The simplest way to get rid of gnats and help your succulents thrive is to ensure the soil is dry. Utilizing a well-draining soil is the best way to achieve this.



    I suggest beginning with a solution of isopropyl alcohol, just as you would for mealybugs. If this doesn’t work, you can try using Safer Soap as a treatment option.

    You can often get rid of Aphids by using a hose with a powerful nozzle attachment to spray them off. This may not always be effective since some may survive the water and return, but most will not.

    Spider Mites

    Spider mites are unpleasant little critters, but they can be managed like mealybugs. Isopropyl alcohol or other sprays are effective in dealing with them.

    Scale on Succulents

    To get rid of scale on succulents, it is important to spray them with Safer Soap. After they have been thoroughly covered with the soap, you should then use a scraper to remove the scale.

    Make sure to disinfect whatever you used to remove the scum to prevent any additional issues.

    Ants on Succulents

    It appears that the ants have made their home in your succulent soil and that they are using it to farm other insects as a food source. The fact that they come out in droves when you water suggests that they have established a colony in the soil.

    Insects like mealy bugs, aphids, and scale are drawn to succulents and the sugary honeydew they produce, which is also attractive to ants.

    Examine your vegetation for indicators of mealy bugs or other insects. If you observe any webbing, tiny white or black bugs, or small brown spots, it’s likely that your plant has already been infested, which is what’s drawing in the ants.

    If you manage to get rid of the other insects, the ants should also disappear.

    You can also try using lemon water to ward off the ants. Put 3-4 lemons in a gallon of water and sprinkle it over the soil.

    If you’re having trouble with bugs attacking your succulents, my friend Jacki at Drought Smart Plants has a great resource in her ebook. It’s packed with information about common plant pests and how to treat them, so I’d definitely suggest taking a look.


    What is the best pesticide for mealybugs on succulents?

    has a wide range of uses

    Isopropyl alcohol can be employed for a variety of purposes.

    How do I get rid of mealybugs on my succulents?

    Using rubbing alcohol at 75% concentration is the most cost-efficient and effective way of getting rid of aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. Simply spray your succulents with this solution and let it sit. You will observe the bugs turning brown, which signifies they have been eliminated.

    Can you save a plant with mealybugs?

    If the infestation of your plant is minor, you can attempt to clear it away by wiping the leaves and stems down with a mixture of water and dish soap. Utilize a cloth or brush to take away both the mealybugs and the honeydew secreted by them. Additionally, you can manually remove the bugs or dab them with a cotton swab soaked in alcohol.

    What is a home remedy for mealybugs on succulents?

    Using rubbing alcohol with a concentration of 75% is the most cost-effective and efficient approach to eliminating aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. Apply the solution generously to the succulents and wait. You will be able to see the bugs begin to turn brown, indicating that they have been killed.

    How do you kill mealybugs in succulents?

    The most effective way to eliminate mealy bugs is to apply isopropyl alcohol to the affected area with a swab and then rinse it off with water. Alternatively, a high-pressure water spray may be used to effectively wash the plant, as the powerful flow of water can easily eliminate the pests.