What is eating my succulents? Identify and prevent damage with these gardening tips.

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What Is Eating My Succulents

Your verdant oasis of succulents has been steadily losing its luster, unsightly holes and bite marks tarnishing their once flawless beauty. Figuring out the culprit nibbling on your beloved plants might seem like gardening’s version of a whodunit mystery.

Now, what’s eating your succulents? That’s a question which sows seeds of intrigue. The answer isn’t quite clear-cut, as various pests, and even environmental factors can be behind the assault on your succulent garden. Marvel, as we unravel this gardening mystery together.

What Is Eating My Succulents?

The most common pests that could be eating your succulents are mealybugs, aphids, and spider mites. Mealybugs appear as small white fluffy insects, while aphids are tiny green or black bugs that feed on the plant’s juice. On the other hand, spider mites are tiny red or black spiders that create fine webs on the plant. These pests can cause discoloration, slow growth, and even death in succulents if not treated promptly.

– Ants

Description Small, persistent, and organized insects that attack succulents, often attracted to sweet secretions produced by aphids or scale insects.
Damage Destruction of leaves, stems, and roots.
Control Eliminate ant trails with soapy water and vinegar, use diatomaceous earth around plants, and apply bait traps.

Ant Damage on Succulents

Ants can cause significant damage to your succulents. They often farm aphids and mealybugs, which are serious pests of succulents, protecting them from natural predators.


Firstly, treat the aphids and mealybugs using insecticidal soap or neem oil spray. To keep ants away, try sprinkling cinnamon around your vulnerable succulents as the scent is a natural repellent. You can also use ant baits to destroy the entire ant colony.

– Aphids

Description Small, soft-bodied insects with a variety of colors, found in clusters, and known for sucking plant sap.
Damage Deformation and discoloration of leaves.
Control Implement natural predators, such as ladybugs, or use organic pesticides like neem oil to deter and eliminate the pests.

Aphids Impact on Succulents:
Aphids are tiny insects that can cause significant damage to your succulents. These pests have a needle-like mouth used for piercing succulent leaves and stems and they feed on the plant’s juices, causing it to weaken and stunt its growth. This results in curled or yellowed leaves and can also promote the growth of sooty mold.

Solutions to Deal with Aphids:
To remove aphids, you can start by hosing down your plants with a strong stream of water. This will dislodge a good majority of the aphids. After that, spray your succulents generously with insecticide soap or neem oil which are both organic solutions and safe for plants. Repeat this process once a week until you no longer see aphids. It’s also beneficial to attract beneficial insects, such as ladybugs and lacewings, which are natural predators of aphids.

– Slugs

Description Moisture-loving, slimy pests with an elongated body and voracious appetite for succulent leaves.
Damage Holes and irregular chew marks on leaves and stems.
Control Implement physical barriers like copper tape or diatomaceous earth, remove hiding spots, and use organic slug repellents.

Slugs Infestation on Succulents

Slugs are mollusks that feed at night. They prefer tender, succulent plant parts and are known to eat succulent plants, leaving behind irregular, smooth-edged holes and a shiny, mucous trail. This can eventually cause significant damage and may even kill the plant if not controlled.

Control and Prevention of Slug Damage

To get rid of slugs, you can introduce predatory animals such as frogs, ground beetles, or birds that naturally prey upon them. Another solution is to use slug pellets or organic slug pesticides. However, these should be used sparingly, as they can be harmful to other animals and the environment. Copper tape can be wrapped around pots, as slugs and snails do not like to cross it. Drowning traps filled with beer or other fermented liquids can be used as well. Placed near the affected plants, the smell attracts slugs which then fall in and drown. Regular removal of debris and other potential slug hideouts near your plants can also help deter them.

– Snails

Description Small, slimy creatures with shells, snails are nocturnal pests that leave visible trails of slime and devour succulent leaves.
Damage Snails damage succulents by eating leaves, stems, and roots, leading to stunted growth and potential death.
Control Implement physical barriers, such as copper tape or crushed eggshells, around plants, and handpick snails in the evening.

Effects of Snails on Succulents:
Snails are mollusks that feed on plant tissue, causing significant damage to your succulents. They can leave visible holes and marks on your plant, as they nibble on its leaves and stem.

Over time, continuous snail feeding can lead to stunt growth and eventually, the death of the plant. Also, their slimy trails can be unsightly, affecting the overall aesthetics of your garden.

Controlling Snail Infestation
To get rid of snails, you first need to reduce the habitat that supports their survival. Remove leaf litter, boards, and stones where snails can hide during the day.

Next, you can handpick the snails during their active times, which is usually during the night, and dispose of them properly. Another method is to trap them using beer or yeast-water mix in a shallow pan.

For a more extensive infestation, you might consider using a snail bait or pesticide specifically designed to kill snails. Always remember to use these chemicals responsibly and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Prevention of Snail Infestation
Prevention is always better than cure. Keep the area around your succulents clean and free from debris. As snails are attracted to damp conditions, watering your succulents in the morning can allow the soil and leaves to dry out during the day.

You can also create barriers using copper tape or crushed eggshells around your plants, snails dislike crossing these materials. Regular monitoring of your garden would help in early detection and quick action against these pests.

What Is Eating My Succulents Identification and Solutions

– Spider mites️

Description Tiny, eight-legged pests that feed on the sap of succulent plants, causing yellowing leaves and fine webbing.
Damage Defoliation and discoloration of succulent leaves.
Control Regularly inspect and clean plants, increase air circulation, use organic insecticides, and isolate infected plants to prevent and control this pest.

Spider Mites’ Impact on Succulents:
Spider mites, which are common pests for indoor and outdoor plants, especially thrive on succulents. They usually cause yellow or white spots on the leaves, and in severe cases, webbing can be seen. Left untreated, they can severely stunt the growth and health of your plant.

Controlling Spider Mites:
Regular Inspection: Regularly check your plants for any signs of infestation. Spider mites are tiny and might be difficult to spot, so a magnifying glass might be useful.
Water Spray: A simple way to control a spider mite infestation is by spraying water. It destroys the webbing and makes it difficult for mites to re-infest.
Insecticidal Soap or Neem Oil: Using properly diluted insecticidal soap or neem oil can also be effective in treating infestations.
Natural Predators: If the situation allows, introducing natural predators like ladybugs, lacewings, or predatory mites into your garden can help naturally control spider mite populations.
Remember, prevention is better than cure. Maintain good plant health to prevent pests from moving in. If the infestation is out of control, it might be best to dispose of the affected plants to prevent the mites from spreading.

– Mealybugs

Description Small, white, fluffy insects that leave unsightly holes and bite marks on succulent plants, causing them to lose their luster.
Damage The pest is causing unsightly holes and bite marks on the succulents.
Control Prevent and control mealybugs by regularly inspecting plants, removing affected leaves, using insecticidal soap or neem oil, and encouraging beneficial predators.

Impact of Mealybugs on Succulents:

Mealybugs pose a serious threat to your succulents. These pests feed by sucking the nutritious sap directly from the plant tissues, causing adverse effects like stunted growth and yellowing leaves. If left unchecked, a mealybug infestation can potentially lead to death of your plants.

Mealybug Solutions:

There are several ways to combat mealybugs. First, you can physically remove the bugs by using a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This works well for minor infestations. Additionally, consider rinsing the plant with a strong jet of water to dislodge the pests. Furthermore, insecticidal soaps are useful for larger infestations. Regularly checking and maintaining your succulents can prevent infestations from getting out of hand.

Preventive Practices:

It’s vital to isolate any new plants before introducing them to your collection to prevent the spread of mealybugs. Regularly clean the plant area to remove any possible hiding spots for these pests. Healthy plants are less susceptible to infestation, so ensure your succulents are getting proper light, water, and fertilization.

– Whiteflies

Description Small, flying insect with white wings, leaving sticky residue on leaves and causing yellowing and stunted growth.
Damage Causing wilting, yellowing, and stunted growth of succulents.
Control Implement natural predators, such as ladybugs or lacewings, introduce sticky traps, regularly inspect and remove affected leaves, and use insecticidal soap.

Effects of Whiteflies on Succulents:
Whiteflies can cause significant damage to succulents. They feed by sucking the sap from the plants, leading to discoloration, wilting, stunted growth, and even death of the succulents. Moreover, they produce honeydew, a sugary substance that encourages the growth of sooty mold, further harming the plant.

Solutions to Whiteflies Infestation:
Effective management of whiteflies involves a combination of methods. Physical removal can be achieved by using a stream of water or vacuuming off the insects. You can also use sticky yellow traps to catch the adult flies. It’s advisable to introduce beneficial insects like ladybugs or lacewings that are natural predators of whiteflies. For serious infestations, you might want to consider using organic insecticides. Make sure to clean up plant detritus to prevent further breeding.

Preventive Measures for Whiteflies Attacks:
Preventive measures such as practicing good hygiene and proper spacing of plants to improve air circulation are also important. This inhibits the proliferation of these pests. Periodically inspecting your plants can help detect early signs of an infestation. Following these steps can successfully control and prevent whiteflies from attacking your succulents.

– Thrips

Description Small, winged insects with rasping mouthparts causing distorted leaves, silvering, and black fecal spots on succulents.
Damage Stunted growth and distorted leaves.
Control Implement regular inspections, use sticky traps, introduce natural predators, apply neem oil or insecticidal soap, and quarantine affected plants.

Thrips Damage on Succulents
Thrips are small, elongated insects that attack your succulents by piercing the outer layer of the plant’s tissue and sucking out the sap. This results in the plant having silvery-white or yellow-splotch appearance, with tiny black spots of thrips excrement. Heavy thrips infestation can cause leaf drop and stunted growth.

Managing Thrips Infestation
To control thrips, start with non-chemical methods such as pruning and destroying the infested leaves or using a strong jet of water to knock them off the plant. Introduce beneficial insects like lacewings and ladybugs that are natural predators of thrips.

Chemical Control
If these methods are not effective enough, consider using insecticidal soaps or neem oil, making sure to spray under the leaves where thrips often hide. For serious infestations, systemic insecticides might be needed. Always follow label instructions for any pesticides.

Remember that prevention is the best strategy against thrips. Maintain plant health with proper watering and fertilizing practices to minimize the chance of infestation. Regularly check for early signs of damage to initiate timely control measures.

– Scale insects

Description Implement regular inspections, use sticky traps, introduce natural predators, apply neem oil or insecticidal soap, and quarantine affected plants.
Damage Succulent foliage withered and turning yellow.
Control Regularly inspect plants for signs of infestation, manually remove scales with a cloth or cotton swab dipped in alcohol.

Scale insects are common pests on succulents that can cause significant damage. They attach themselves to the plant and feed on its sap, causing leaves to yellow and drop off. White, sticky substance known as honeydew can also be found on infested succulents. Over time, if left untreated, an infestation can weaken your plant and even lead to death.

Control Measures: To handle a scale infestation on your succulents, start with a soft brush or cloth to physically remove visible insects. Neem oil is a safe, effective option for treating these pests. Spray your plants thoroughly with the neem oil solution, getting under leaves and in nooks where scale insects hide. You may need to reapply this treatment weekly until the insects are gone. Additionally, try to ensure your succulents have the right conditions for growth as strong, healthy plants are less susceptible to pests. This includes enough sunlight, and proper watering and feeding. It’s best to isolate infested plants to prevent spread to others.

Lastly, consider incorporating beneficial insects like ladybugs into your garden. They are natural predators of scale insects and can help control their population. Always remember, persistent and right treatment can help save your succulents from these harmful pests.

– Caterpillars

Description Small, voracious insects with elongated bodies, chewing mouthparts, and a preference for consuming succulent plants.
Damage Devouring leaves, leaving plants weak and vulnerable.
Control Implement physical barriers such as nets or cages, use organic pesticides, manually remove caterpillars, introduce natural predators.

Caterpillars and their Effects on Succulents: Caterpillars are a common pest that frequently target succulents. These creatures chew large holes or eat the entire leaves. Damage is usually visible as irregular holes in leaves and can lead to the plants’ demise if left unchecked.

Dealing with Caterpillar Infestation: To control a caterpillar infestation, manually remove the caterpillars when you spot them. Regularly inspecting your succulents is integral. You can also introduce biological controls like parasitic wasps and Bacillus thuringiensis, a naturally occurring bacterium that is non-toxic to humans and pets but lethal to caterpillars. Prevention is key. Keep the area around your succulents clean, reduce dampness, and promote good air circulation to discourage pests.

If the infestation is severe, bring in a professional pest control service to save your succulents. Regular care and observation will prevent future infestations.