What is wrong with my succulent?

Insect Problems on Succulents

Succulents are extremely resilient plants that, short of overwatering, have very few nemesis when they are outside in your garden.  That being said, they aren’t completely care-free and will suffer the occasional pest when you take them indoors.  Here are the 4 common pests that will try to over-run your succulents and what you need to do about them.




The adult fungus gnat is more annoying than a threat to your plant but the larva that are in the soil can damage young plants.  Large, established plants are very seldom affected.



Scale is an armored insect that actually lives under its shell.  Typically you’ll see small tan or brown bumps on your succulent leaves – that lets you know that you have an insect at work on your plant.




Mealybugs are probably the most common insect you’ll see on your succulents and they are easy to find.  Mealybugs have a cottony white appearance and will attach themselves to the veins and undersides of leaves.  They will often leave behind a webbing where the leaves meet the stems.


Spider Mites:

These tiny insects are easily overlooked since they are only 1/50 of an inch long but they can do some big damage if left unchecked.  Because the insect is difficult to see, you need to look for small rust colored spots on your plant as well as webbing.


Here are some different options on how to manage the pests:

  • If the infestation is severe, you may want to quarantine your plant to keep the insects from spreading.
  • Mealybugs and Spider Mites can typically be washed off with a strong stream of water.
  • Scale and Mealybugs can be removed effectively with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.  You can also mix rubbing alcohol with water in a spray bottle to hit the insects that are not readily visible.
  • Neem is a natural product that is a triple threat by targeting fungus, insects and mites.
  • When all else fails and you just can’t bear to throw away the succulent, you can always find a systemic insecticide to knock out the problem.  But be careful!  These are strong chemicals so make sure it is safe for your succulent but more importantly, make sure you move your plant where your family and pets won’t be!