There are many different kinds of cacti. Most cacti have sharp thorns that will make efforts to keep pests away; however, there are different kinds of pests that will find a way onto your plant. There are numerous kinds of insects that may be chomping down on your cacti and don’t get me wrong, and there is nothing more infuriating, especially when you are a plant mom or dad. There’s nothing more annoying than coming home to find your favorite cactus plant in tatters because of an infestation. However, do not be worrying about it. It is a problem that can be resolved with a few tips and tricks naturally without the need to be calling an exterminator.
What’s Eating My Cactus
There are many different species that may be eating away at your cactus. Some are animals, while others are pests in the form of insects. Of course, if you keep your cacti indoors, you will not have a problem with animals eating your cactus. However, that does not mean you won’t have issues with common cactus bugs.
Common Cactus Bugs
They are generally brown or black bugs that are around ½ an inch long. They have a yellow stripe across their head, yellow veins throughout their wings, and a yellow pronotum. These bugs generally have thick bodies and are shaped like a teardrop. Once a cactus bug has eaten a bit of your cactus, yellow-green rings may begin to appear on their body. If enough cactus bugs feed on the one plant, the plant may become much more susceptible to fungi and diseases. This is because the bugs will have left open wounds. The cactus may even die at this point. To ward off the cactus bugs trying to murder your cacti, you should use surface products.
These insects reproduce rapidly and can cover a cactus entirely in just a few days, which gives your cactus a fuzzy-like appearance. What these insects do to your cactus is they will pierce it, which leaves behind a scar. This scar can make your cactus much more susceptible to diseases.
A great way to get scale insects off your cactus is to spray the cactus down with a garden hose nozzle of medium pressure. Then, treat the cactus’s roots with some pest control product to prevent the insects from returning. If the bugs’ physical removal has not worked and the infestation does not cover the entire plant, you could use a treatment with alcohol to kill the pests. You can do this by mixing three parts alcohol and 1 part water.
Then, dip your cotton swab into it and rub it on the cactus’ spots the bugs have impacted. This treatment works best for small infestations of scale insects and mealybugs. Also, keep in mind that cacti are sensitive to alcohol, and some are more than others. So, please test it out by treating a small area first and then allow it to sit for the day. Take note if you see any drying out or discoloration. If you see either of these things, stop using the alcohol on your cactus.
These insects typically attack the roots and stems of a cactus. Therefore, because of this, they are often very challenging to detect without unrooting or unpotting your plant, which is rather annoying. Removing Mealybugs from your cactus is similar to eliminating scale insects. However, a pressurized hose nozzle may damage your cactus’s roots in this instance, so it may be better to use a toothbrush. Then, treat your roots with a systemic pest control product as this will be a lot more effective if done as a prevention measure.
If you have a mealybug infestation, a good idea would be to use systematic insecticide. Mealybugs are very challenging to eliminate and will need proper pesticide treatment. Look for a pesticide treatment that is safe for your cactus and follow the directions accordingly. Also, test the pesticide treatment on the part of your plant to ensure it is secure.
They are tiny mites that create web-like silk on whatever plant they arrive on to infest. They look like small red spiders and can be easily spotted by the dry brown areas that they leave on your plant. They spread quickly and will infest all cacti in the immediate area. Therefore, the infested cacti must be quarantined until the mites have left. Spider mites will require pest control because of how quickly they spread on the cacti.
However, when purchasing pest control, ensure it states spider mite control; otherwise, it may not kill the spider mites. Also, treat the cacti several times to ensure that all of them, including their eggs, are dead. Another idea is using insecticidal soap if the problem of cactus bugs is persisting.
If you have not heard of insecticidal soap before, it is a weaker kind of pesticide that will kill the bugs without damaging your cactus. You should purchase a kind of insecticidal soap that is designed for cacti. Then, apply the soap according to the instructions. You should repeat this treatment until the infestation is gone. Soaps come in very useful for the smaller pests that are hard to move. Just make sure that the product is safe for your plant.
How to Eliminate Cactus Bugs Naturally
Use Your Garden Hose
It can be painful to remove these bugs manually. You can use your garden hose and spray away any bugs you come across on your cactus. Use a nozzle that gives you a controlled water flow or use your thumb to make a powerful stream from the hose. This will quickly and easily get rid of pests, and they will not be back very quickly as most hate water, and the residual effect will keep them away from your plant.
Blast Them With Soapy Water
You could DIY your pesticide by combining eight drops of dish soap with a cup of water. Then, use a spray bottle and blast that soapy water on your cactus. This will kill many different kinds of pests without causing damage to your cactus. This is a very cost-effective and easy method. You should do this again every other day until all the bugs have left the cactus. This is particularly effective against the tiny insects.
Treat Your Cactus With Rubbing Alcohol
You can use rubbing alcohol to treat small areas of your cactus. Dab a cotton swab into the rubbing alcohol and spread it across the cactus areas that are difficult to reach. If you see any areas with many webs, you can also use rubbing alcohol to clean that up. The alcohol works well here as it burns through the white webbing for early on disposal. You can also use the swab to clean the hard to reach areas of the cactus. Do note that some succulents are sensitive to alcohol. Always do a patch test, and if you notice drying out or discoloration, stop using alcohol.
Pruning your plant will also help as it means you can remove the parts of the plant beyond infestation. This will allow you to preserve the remainder of the plant. This is very simple: remove the cactus part if you can and dispose of it into a bucket of soapy water. This will kill any bugs that remain on the cactus. Then, throw out the part of the cactus after allowing it time to soak for a few hours. Don’t forget to use protective equipment during the process.
Use Tweezers To Remove Bugs
Some insects are very good at sneaking into tiny cracks, which makes it difficult to remove them. When this happens, tweezers become a convenient tool as you can use them to remove the insects since tweezers are so small. You can do this method to reduce the population of insects every day. Although this may not get rid of them, it will reduce the number of them.
Use Sticky Traps
You can also use the sticky traps to catch some insects. These traps can be found in a lot of stores, mainly hardware shops. They are usually called ‘sticky tape.’ You can purchase a packet and use it as per the directions. The insects will fly into the tape and get stuck on the tape. You can place these sticky traps horizontally across the soil level of the cactus.
Vinegar can be a great pest control against almost all cactus bugs. However, it can also kill your pressure cactus. You should use vinegar on the parts of your cactus that you cannot remove the bugs from. The smaller bugs can easily be controlled by the vinegar since it is a liquid that can flow into any hole. However, be aware that the cactus leaf that you spray could wilt and fall off. Therefore, you may be best simply cutting it off and pruning it.
Also Read: How to Get Rid of Pill Bugs in Garden
How to Prevent Bugs from Invading Your Cactus
There are many practices you can adopt to keep bugs away from your cactus, whether you choose natural methods or methods that involve the use of chemicals. However, getting rid of cactus bugs naturally is much better for both your plant and yourself. One thing you could do to prevent cactus bugs is to quarantine a new cactus for 2-3 weeks when you get it to avoid introducing pests to the plant.
Another top tip is to follow the exact care guidelines for your specific cactus. Healthy plants are better at resisting bug infestations than weak plants. So, always ensure that they are well fed and don’t overwater or over-fertilize them. You can also plant some companions for your cactus, and this will help to repel bugs further. Also, space your cacti out, and then there is a long distance for the bugs to travel from one plant to another.
Clean the debris from the base of your plants. This will help you to remove any bug hiding spots easily. Finally, check your plants weekly for bug infestations so that you can act quickly.