Succulents and cacti have been growing in popularity, especially among garden enthusiasts and landscapers. Even those that aren’t interested in gardening keep succulents at home. These plants are hardy and are low-maintenance, which makes taking care of them easy. As hardy as these plants are, they are also prone to pests. Mealybugs are among the pests that can destroy cacti, and can potentially become a landscaper’s nightmare.
What Are Mealybugs?
Mealybugs are insects that are parasites of many plant varieties. There are many species of mealybugs, and many of them pose a threat to gardens. Some species even work with ants, forming a mutually-beneficial relationship.
Mealybugs are particularly attracted to plants that have juicy and fleshy parts. Fruits, sap, fleshy stems, and leaves become usual targets as a result. The damage that mealybugs can cause to plants can be very severe. That is why you should consult pest control professionals on the first sign of a mealybug infestation.
Why Do Mealybugs gather on cacti?
Mealybugs can infect different plants. There are records of citrus crops, mangoes, grapes, and sugarcane plantations being devastated by these pests. Houseplants and gardens are also very commonly affected. These pests are persistent, which is why pest control services are usually needed to solve the problem.
Cacti, in particular, are among the prime targets of infestation by these insects. In fact, mealybugs were used to deliberately destroy cactus populations in the 1970s. These juicy plants are just irresistible to mealybugs. The conditions where cacti are kept are also conducive for mealybug growth.
How can it be harmful?
Mealybugs can potentially be extremely problematic. Heavy infestations of crops can cause significant economic losses and require professional pest control services. Some of the adverse effects that mealybugs can create on the plants they infest are the following:
● Damage to the plants:
Mealybugs physically damage plants when they feed on the plant parts. This damage can decrease the overall health of the plant or cause death in the worst cases.
● Leaf drop:
Heavy infestations can cause plants to shed their leaves. That can be particularly damaging to the plant. Pest control services are usually necessary for infestations of this severity.
● Carriers of disease:
Some species of mealybugs can carry plant diseases which they can then pass on to their hosts. It can be particularly bothersome in landscaping scenarios since diseases can devastate plants en masse.
● Can cause molds to grow:
All animals produce waste, and mealybugs are no exception. The wastes that mealybugs produce can cause mold and fungi to grow. These new growths can prove to be extra problems for the plant.
Even light infestations of mealybugs can be troublesome. It is necessary to prevent these outbreaks before they worsen, to prevent problems in landscaping. Pest control services can help.
How to Protect Cacti from Mealybugs?
Calling pest control services and pest control professionals is the best way to take care of a mealybug infestation. However, there are also things that you can do to protect your plants. Here are some great ways to protect your precious cacti while landscaping.
1. Isolate the infected succulent
You need to isolate the infected plant on the first sign of a mealybug infection. It prevents the pests from infecting the other succulents.
2. Insecticide soap
There are insecticidal soaps available that you can wash the cacti with. Using these correctly regularly can get rid of mealybugs after some time. Make sure that you read the label carefully.
3. Diatomaceous earth
Applying diatomaceous earth to the infected cacti can help get rid of mealybugs. Take note, however, that this will only work if the mealybugs have formed a beneficial relationship with ants.
4. Alcohol and SDS
A 70% isopropyl alcohol solution is found to be effective against mealybugs. That, coupled with a 1% solution of sodium dodecyl sulfate, can get rid of the pests. This method is also very safe for your cacti.
There are many insecticides available that can eradicate mealybug infestations. Just make sure that the ones you use are safe for succulents. If you keep the cacti indoors, check if the insecticide that you will use is safe for indoor use. However, many are safe for use in landscaping jobs outdoors. Finally, some insecticides are only meant to be used by pest control professionals. Try not to use these.
Call Pest Control Professionals Today
Did you spot some mealybugs on the plants? You better call pest control services as early as you can to keep the pests from spreading. Early action is crucial to preventing your precious succulents from being destroyed.