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Pests of succulents and cacti. How to deal with them?

All pests of cacti cause irreparable damage to the roots and green mass. For insects, these plants are a "tidbit", because their green mass is rich in starchy and carbohydrate substances. Succulent pests mainly infect weakened and diseased plants. On healthy landings it is difficult to meet mealybug, spider mites and other insects. They have a natural level of biological defense against them. Therefore, before fighting pests, you should reconsider your approach to agricultural technology and conduct daily crop care in accordance with the recommendations of specialists.

Strong, hardened, properly cultivated cacti are much less likely to be damaged by pests than loose, overfed with fertilizers or weakened by adverse environmental conditions of the plant. However, with a strong defeat of the entire collection can suffer and healthy cacti. Similarity danger is especially great in the case when the plant affected by the pest is accidentally placed among healthy cacti. Therefore, before placing any new acquisitions in your collection, be it cacti purchased in the store or received as a gift, as well as “babies” - they should be carefully checked for pests and it is best to stand in quarantine for some time.

See what pests of cacti look like in the photo, where individuals of different sexes and signs of their presence on plants are represented:

Root and mealybugs on cacti: how to fight

All cacti worms are potentially dangerous pests for other houseplants. On how to deal with the worms on cacti, we will discuss later in the article, where the most effective methods of disinsection.


In case of severe damage to the mealybug, the stalks of the plants appear to be covered with irregularly distributed white or light gray dots on the surface. Insects reaching 4 mm in length are covered with white patina on the top and settle mainly in secluded places, for example, in debugging between the ribs, between the mother plant and the “children” or when grafting at the point of transition from the stock to the graft. Here, females lay eggs covered with a vat-like layer.

These insects are very mobile and extremely quickly spread throughout the collection. Sucking cell sap from the plants, they greatly weaken cacti. Since the plaque covering the top of the insect repels many drugs, it is quite difficult to fight with a mealybug on a cactus with chemical plant protection products. In a not very large collection of ictus of all insects and their cocoons with clades of eggs can be collected and destroyed with a stick dipped in alcohol or a hard point. Before you deal with mealybugs on cacti, you should carefully examine the nearby plants and, if necessary, also treat them.

However, after this for a few more weeks it is necessary to conduct a daily inspection of the plants, since portions of unnoticed clutches are constantly kept on spreading their faces. When using chemicals it is necessary to pay attention to the fact that the instructions indicate the effectiveness of this tool against the mealybug. Otherwise, as a wetting agent, any dishwashing liquid should be added to the insecticidal preparation (0,5 cm3 per liter of solution). However, chemical preparations with the addition of a wetting agent also destroy the blue or white wax coating that adorns some cacti.


This pest lives on the roots of cacti and reaches a length of 2 mm. When transplanting plants, whitish, vat-like discharges on the affected parts of the root system immediately catch the eyes. The rootbird multiplies rapidly and spreads rapidly throughout the collection, not only among cacti planted in greenhouses, but also among the plants growing in pots, crawling from one drainage hole to another. Especially fast the pest multiplies during dry wintering, when the cacti breeder pays much less attention to cacti. Sucking the cell sap, the root scarlet weakens the plants.

As a result, cacti lose their bright green color, fade, are stunted, and bloom poorly. Unfortunately, the root scarlet is widely distributed in many collections, as well as in many floriculture farms. Therefore, all newly acquired cacti must first carefully examine and transplant. If during transplantation typical white vatoobraznye selection of the root worm is noticed, all old soil from the root system must be removed, the roots themselves should be thoroughly rinsed and the pots sanitized before reuse. After planting in fresh soil, the plant should be at least twice with an interval of 10 days well shed with a suitable insecticidal preparation.

See what these pests look like. succulents picturedwhere signs of their presence on plants are illustrated:

Spider mite on cactus (with photo)

These yellowish or reddish colored insects are so small that they can only be seen with a magnifying glass.

Mites on cacti suck out cell sap, primarily from young soft tissues on the tops of the shoots, thereby weakening the plants, and multiply very rapidly. The affected parts of the plants turn pale, become yellowish-white and give the impression of being covered with scab.

Sometimes with the help of a magnifying glass you can also find the thinnest web.

The plant is unable to restore the damaged areas of the skin; over the years this cactus will be disfigured, and with a strong defeat it dies. Spider mites on cacti also affect many garden plants, so it is not always possible to prevent their penetration into the collection of succulents. Some cacti, such as Lobivia silvestrii, and especially grafted specimens, or fleshy Echinocereuses that have soft tissues, are particularly susceptible to damage by the red spider mite, as well as generally loose, insufficiently hardened cacti.

Plants affected by ticks should be thoroughly sprayed with a suitable insecticidal preparation so that the solution falls into the deepest folds between the ribs. Processing should be carried out repeatedly with an interval of approximately 10 days in order to destroy the larvae that have just hatched from eggs. Strongly affected plants must be isolated. Unfortunately, due to the extremely rapid reproduction of the spider mite, strains resistant to frequently used drugs are often formed.

See what a spider mite looks like on a cactus - the photo shows typical signs of the presence of an insect pest:

Other pests of cacti and succulents

The following are other pests succulents and cactithat can be found on these plants. Sometimes snails penetrating into greenhouses can cause damage to plants in the form of feeding on individual areas, for example, on buds or phyllocactus. The damage to plants by snails is easily determined by the silvery traces of mucus remaining on the damaged parts of the plants. During the day, snails often hide in secluded places under pots or plants with plants, where they can be found on closer inspection. In specialized stores and horticultural centers there are special lures for snails on sale, which can be laid out in small dishes and then collected pests.

It can also damage cacti eating soft plant parts. As traps, you can use the halves of the hollow inside the raw potatoes, which are happy to hide pests during the daytime.

The larvae of mushroom mosquitoes and pourae are sometimes found in the substrate of growing epiphytic cacti. To combat these insects use the usual insecticidal preparations that are added to the irrigation water.


This pest can occasionally be found on leaf-shaped cacti, prickly pears or columnar cacti, and it looks like small, slightly convex, brown specks. These small brown specks are wax pads under which adult fixed insects are hidden. Under this protective shield females lay eggs, and the hatching larvae crawl around the plant. Since, in this case, too, the wax flap does not let in chemical plant protection products, the guards are brushed off with a stick moistened with alcohol.

At the same time, care must be taken not to spread the eggs or larvae under them to the plant. For reliability, the affected areas can be further treated with an insecticidal preparation. As in the case of the mealybug, here it is also necessary regularly for a few weeks to carefully inspect the entire collection, since the larvae that hatch out of the unnoticed scutes can crawl around the plants. However, sometimes on the phyllocactus you can observe small brown spots, which are not dangerous for plants corking. In this case, brown spots do not scrape.

Root nematodes.

Cacti infect two different forms of root nematodes. Gallic root nematodes are distributed mainly in the Mediterranean. They cause the formation of well-defined thickenings on the roots of cacti. Later, larvae emerge from them, which, in turn, are introduced into the roots of plants and cause the formation of new thickenings (galls). Nematodes forming cysts are more common here. After attaching to the roots of cacti, the female's body swells, turning into yellow-brown, lemon-like cysts about 0,5 mm in size. In these cysts, larvae, well protected by the shell, develop; they often leave their shelter only a few years later in order to attach themselves to the roots.

The defeat of cacti by root nematodes initially leads to growth arrest. Only much later is observed the destruction of the root system and the death of the plant. Unfortunately, damage to plants by root nematodes is most often detected too late, and the pest is easily spread throughout the collection through the affected plants or reused old substrate.

To check the cacti for damage by cyst-forming root nematodes, the plants are removed from the pot.

Suspicion should be caused by a decaying root system, in which in some places the formation of new roots similar to the “witch's broom” can be observed. In this case, the soil remaining on the roots is shaken into a plate filled with water. Using a magnifying glass, it is easy to recognize smooth, yellow-brown, lemon-shaped cysts of nematodes that can be easily distinguished from peat particles floating on the surface.

It is very difficult to fight root nematodes. Conventional insecticides used for irrigation can kill only nematodes that are free-living in the soil, but the larvae leave numerous cysts for many years.

For professional gardeners on sale there are special chemicals to combat nematodes, packaged in large packaging. However, due to their exceptional toxicity, the use of these plant protection products by cacti lovers who have small collections - which are also often housed in apartments and are accessible to children - is not recommended.

The cactus affected by nematodes conducts a radical pruning of the roots and thoroughly cleans the root collar. After drying of the cut areas, the plant is rooted as a stalk. Remaining old soil after transplanting should never be used for planting other plants.

Recommended chemical plant protection products.

Hereafter, some chemical plant protection products will be named, which are currently commercially available in small packages and which can also be used by amateurs who have small collections of cacti.

In different countries, chemical plant protection products with the same active ingredients are often sold under different trade names. In addition, the range of approved and effective drugs is constantly undergoing major changes.

Therefore, the following list is only an example and does not claim to be comprehensive; It is designed to make it easier for lovers of cacti to find another tool in a specialized shop with appropriate active ingredients and corresponding efficiency. More information is available from qualified retailers.

Some plant protection products are also poisonous to humans and pets. Therefore, when applying them, it is necessary to strictly follow the instructions for use and recommendations for dosage.

Individual preparations can cause various damages to the treated plants; in this respect, epiphytic cacti, such as “Christmas” and “Easter”, seem to be more susceptible than all other cacti. In case of any doubt, you should seek advice from a professional gardener. Watering plants with a solution of insecticidal or fungicidal preparations should be carried out only in the warm season. Ground lump, first moistened, it should in no case be dry. Treated (sprayed) insecticide plants should be kept in a shaded place for several days. Spraying insecticides in the sun can cause serious damage to the skin (epidermis) of cacti.

When using drugs in aerosol packages it is necessary to spray from a distance of at least 30 — 50 cm from the plant.

Chinosol / Chinozole (Hoechst, currently not applicable).

Active substance: 8-hydroxy-nitrile sulfate, potassium sulfate

Action according to the manufacturer: disinfectant tablets of antibacterial and antimycotic action. We recommend against fungal diseases when sowing cacti.

Application: For the prevention of fungal diseases, watering with 0,05% solution (1 tablet weighing 1 g per 2 l of water), with an existing lesion, the concentration increases to 0,1%.

Protective spray for plants Etisso (Celaflor).

Active substance: natural pyrethrin, piperonyl butoxide.

Action according to the manufacturer: used to combat sucking insects and spider mites on indoor and balcony plants. Non-toxic to bees. Plants are sprayed with the drug from all sides.

The combined sticks for fertilizer Etisso (Celaflor).

Active substance: dimethoate; nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, trace elements.

Action according to the manufacturer: dressing and protection of plants from insect pests. For decorative leafy and flowering plants in the room, on the balcony and terrace, use 1 — 3 sticks, depending on the size of the pot, every 4-6 weeks. Because of the content of nitrogen that is oriented, in our opinion, on ordinary indoor plants, it is recommended to use only for powerful and fast-growing cacti.

Combined sticks Lizetan (Bayer).

Active substance: imidahlorid; nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium.

The drug systemic action against sucking insects on ornamental plants in rooms and on balconies. Against the aphid begins to act after 3 a day after the start of the application, against mealybugs and flaps after about 3 weeks. The effect of the drug continues for 6 — 8 weeks. Depending on the diameter of the pot in the soil stick from 1 / 2 to 3 sticks.

Spray for ornamental plants Lizetan plus (Bayer).

Дactive substance: methiocarb + imidichloride.

It is used to combat sucking and jumping pests, mealybugs, scutes, and spider mites on houseplants. Plants from all sides lightly sprayed with the drug.

Spray for indoor plants Spruzit (Neudorf).

Active substance: natural pyrethrin, piperonyl butoxide.

Action according to the manufacturer: the drug for use indoors and outdoors against aphids and other sucking pests on ornamental plants. Plants are sprayed evenly from all sides. Non-toxic to bees.

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