Ewww, what is that on my plant?🕵🏻♀️
In today's blog we are going to go over three common pests you should know about and keep a close eye on in your succulent garden.
Mealy bugs thrive in warm climates and form cotton like masses on plant stems or hide in between leaf axils of your succulent plants. A leaf axil is where the leaf joins the stem in your plant. They are microscopic unarmored scale insects that belong to the Pseudococcidae family. Some species of mealy bugs lay their eggs in quantities of 50-100 at a time.😟
As I mentioned before they thrive naturally only in warmer parts of the world. They attach themselves to the plant and secrete a powdery wax used for protection while they feed on the plant.
Mealy bugs feed on plants by piercing their needle-like mouth to get to the juices of the plant. If you ever see ants crawling around your succulents, that is a for sure sign of having mealy bugs. Ants protect mealybugs from predators and in return the mealy bugs excrete honeydew, a sweet thick substance that ants feed on. This substance also increases mold growth on your plant. If your succulents have yellow wilting leaves, that can also be a sign of a mealy bug infestation. Mealy bugs will eventually suck the plant dry of it's nutrients which will make their leaves turn yellow, wilt and fall off, killing the plant.
Preventions: The number one way to prevent being attacked by mealy bugs is to quarantine your newly purchased succulents until you do a full inspection before introducing them to the rest of your succulent collection. Carefully going through every new plant, inspecting below the leaves and in between, and in the center of their rosettes. Cleaning your succulents regularly will also help the prevention of mealy bugs. Getting rid of dried up old leaves and repotting your succulents at least every six months with new cactus mix.
Damage Control: The #1 way to get rid of a mealy bug infested succulent is to throw it away, including the nursery pot and soil it came in, or you can try to nurture your succulent back to health by purchasing a spray bottle of neem oil on Amazon or by spraying your succulent from top to bottom with alcohol.
Neem oil comes from a evergreen tree🌳 from the Indian Subcontinent. The oil is pressed from the fruits and seeds of the tree. It is popular in organic farming and to make various forms of medicines. It might not be a quick fix, but it takes care of the infestation. The first thing you should do with the infested plant is to do a full inspection. Checking every nook and cranny for signs of white spots or cottony nest. If you spot even one mealy bug, begin the neem oil process. Quarantine the plant in a fully shaded area and spray the succulent plant every 7 days until there are no signs of mealy bugs. Neem oil does not directly kill the pest on the crop, but coats the plant and acts as an anti-feedent, protecting the plant or crop from damage. the pest starve and die within a few days. Neem oil also suppresses the hatching of pest from their eggs. The recovering process of new healthy growth on your plant may take 1-3 months before reintroducing it back into your succulent collection. Spraying your infested succulents with rubbing alcohol is another way to get rid of mealy bugs. Since alcohol is a very harsh agent, it may dry or burn your plants, but this method kills the mealy bugs on the spot. Make sure to keep your alcohol sprayed plants in a shaded area for at least one day after they have been sprayed before reintroducing them back into sunlight.
Aphids: A.K.A., plant lice, blackflies and greenflies.
A soft bodied insect from the superfamily Aphidoidea. Over 4,000 species are known around the globe. These insects are said to be the most destructive pest on cultivated plants that thrive in temperate zones around the world.
Aphids feed themselves through sucking mouthparts called stylets that pierce through the plants phloem (tissue) to feed on the sap. Aphids tend to feed on young succulent blooms, so it it best to snip them off to avoid an infestation. Succulent blooms can be put in a vase with water to prolong their beautiful unique flowers. Because aphids are feeders of plant sap, they damage and reduce yields of crops. Aphids travel from plant to plant by mainly riding on dispersal moving winds, tasting different crops before settling permanently on their new host. Some types of aphids grow wings but are weak flyers and end up losing their wings in a matter of days after growing them. Like mealy bugs aphids work together with ants that protect them from predators, in return aphids produce a sweet sap that ants feed on therefore forming an alliance.
Predators: Aphids are eaten mainly by birds and insect, the top predators being the Vesper Sprarrow and the American Goldfinch. Both are native to North America. Lady bettles, crab spiders, wasp and the overfly are some of the insects that feed on aphids and even forms of fungi are known to kill aphids.
Damage Control: Because birds are the main predators of aphids purchasing and placing a birdfeedeer in your garden with seeds that passerine birds eat, can be an easy fix. Purchasing lady beetles🐞 on Amazon and releasing them into your garden or greenhouse can also prevent and control the spread of aphids. Though it will take reapeted heavy applications of them since they tend to fly away within 48 hours of releasing them. Spraying the lady beetles with diluted sugar water is commonly done to make their wings stick and make the beetles stay for longer periods of time to be able to lay eggs and keep the generation of predators against aphids in your garden going. Neem oil is also a go to when it comes to killing aphids and so is rubbing alcohol.
Snails are members of the Mollusca Family. Many snails are herbivorous, eating plants or algae from surfaces with their radulae (tongue). The Helix Aspersa (common garden snail) have thousand of microscopic tooth-like structures located on their tougue that rip through plant leaves leaving large holes behind. A true sign of a snail munching on your plants.😕
Damage Control & Prevention: An easy way to prevent snails from climbing onto your plants is to keep them elevated on shelves. If you keep your succulent planters on the ground, snails can easily climb up your planter in a matter of minutes and indulge on your plants. Surrounding your planters with a border of salt will help your planters from being attacked if you cannot or don't have the space for shelves. Salt kills snails on the spot because the process of osmosis is triggered. Large amounts of fluid from inside the snail rush to the surface to restore equilibrium and dilute the concentration of the salt that it is being attacked by, this process will make the snail release a goo like substance and will lose more fluid that it is able to tolerate which will dehydrate it to it's death. There are also traditional pesticides you can use like concentrated garlic in liquid form or wormwood solutions that can be purchased on Amazon.
In conclusion, pest attacking your succulents will unfortunately happen. Keeping your garden clean from debris is essential, and always having a close eye on them will help. Tending to a garden is a work of love and care. I hope that this blog will help you when the time comes to deal with these three types of pests. Thank you for taking the time to read this blog.🤓
Information sourced from: www.wikipedia.org