Aphids are one of the worst pests to have in your succulent garden.
They can quickly take over and leave you with an aphid infested plant that will die if not taken care of.
It’s essential to act fast before aphids get out of control. Luckily, aphids are one of the easiest garden pests to get rid of.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to identify aphids, some prevention methods, and everything you need to know to get rid of aphids on succulents.
What Are Aphids?
Aphids are tiny insects that live on the leaves and stems of succulent plants.
Aphids come in a variety of colors. Depending on their food source, they can be green, red, brown, or black.
Aphids are tiny insects that live in colonies. Aphid colonies often cause white residue to build up around plant stems (honeydew).
They pierce plant tissue with their mouthparts to get at the sap inside, which can stunt or kill tender succulent growth. Aphids also act as intermediary hosts for fungal diseases such as powdery mildew.
Aphid infestations can be challenging to eliminate because they reproduce quickly, and their eggs are hidden in plant tissue.
Aphids can also produce a sticky, sugary substance known as honeydew that attracts ants.
What Causes Aphids on Succulent Plants
A few different things can cause aphids on succulents.
Often aphids are brought into the house with new plants. But aphids may also hatch from eggs laid last year and survive through the winter months.
Also, aphids can be caused by aphid farming ants. Ants think aphid honeydew is delicious, so they create an environment where aphids will thrive and produce lots of food.
Succulents are an excellent aphid farming location, so if aphids are already on your succulents, it is likely due to ants.
How To Identify Aphids on Succulents
Aphids are tiny, soft-bodied insects with pear-shaped bodies, long legs, and antennae.
Depending on their host plant species, aphid color can be green, yellow, or brown.
They suck the sap from succulent plants leaving behind a sticky residue known as honeydew which attracts ants to aphid-infested plants.
Another sign of aphids is black sooty mold fungus growing on aphid secretions (honeydew) called “sooty mold,” which replaces the usual vibrant colors of your favorite succulents.
Succulents are plants with fleshy leaves or stem that store water.
Aphids feed off succulent plant juices and reproduce quickly, crowding aphid-infested plants.
The Lifecycle Of An Aphid on Succulents
Aphids reproduce quickly, giving birth to live aphid babies without laying eggs, making their population grow exponentially.
The aphid’s reproduction rate is mainly affected by temperature, humidity levels, and the type of host plant species they feed on.
During colder winter months, aphids tend to slow down their reproductive cycle.
During warm summer, aphid numbers explode, leading to aphid infestations in your succulents when exposed to high temperatures for several days.
Once aphids settle on your succulent plants, they begin feeding off their sap, causing wilt and yellow leaves that eventually fall off, leading to rot or fungal infections.
Aphid infestation can lead to the death of succulent plants if aphids are not controlled immediately.
What Does Aphid Damage Look Like
The aphid symptoms you will see on your succulent plants are not always the same.
It can be hard to tell aphids from other succulent pests, such as mealybugs and whiteflies.
However, knowing what aphids look like when they infest a plant makes it easier to recognize them in action!
Here is a list of symptoms that may indicate an aphid attack:
- Discoloration of leaves
- Yellowing or bronzing of new growth
- Curling leaves
- Wilting (in severe cases)
- The sticky residue (produced by aphids feeding) on the surface of the leaves and stems; this honeydew attracts ants and encourages fungal infections.
- Loss of vigor in succulents
They may also appear bloated, with visible dark spots at their joints. If aphids feed on your plants, they will most likely crawl away when disturbed, if not entirely hidden by the leaves.
Aphid infestations can become so bad that even the flowers of succulent flowering plants start getting covered in aphids!
How To Treat Aphids on Succulents
The aphids on succulents are tiny insects that suck the sap from succulent plants.
When aphids attack your plant, they can cause several problems, such as yellowing leaves and stunting growth in young shoots and flowers.
Fortunately, there are simple solutions to get rid of aphids on succulents:
Stream of Water
Use a strong stream of water to blast aphids off your succulents.
If you catch aphid pest infestation early enough, one way to deal with them is by blasting them away using a hard stream of water from the hose or faucet.
This may sound crude, but it works very well. Aphids are relatively fragile and sensitive creatures that can easily be knocked down this way without harming your plants!
Avoid knocking over any leaves as you do this, as they might get damaged.
Insecticidal soap is one of the most common pest control measures. It is a chemical that kills aphids on contact.
It works by breaking down the aphid’s waxy coating, which suffocates them, causing death within minutes of application.
Apply insecticidal soap once you see infestation signs because it must come into direct contact with aphids to be effective.
Neem Oil Spray
Neem oil is derived from the extract of neem tree seeds. It has strong antibacterial properties that fight aphids on succulent plants.
To use this natural aphid repellent, you will need: water, neem oil (dilute 20 ml per liter), and soap to help the mixture stick to leaves.
You can also add garlic if desired. It is an additional deterrent while boosting your plant’s defenses against aphid attacks through systemic acquired resistance (SAR). Add garlic to the mix if you want.
Mix water and neem oil in a water spray bottle. Add soap (dilute) and garlic (optional). Shake well, then apply on aphid-affected areas of your succulent plants.
Diatomaceous earth is a soft sedimentary rock made up of the fossilized remains of diatoms.
When aphids walkthrough or eat it, they dehydrate and die because its sharp edges puncture their exoskeleton.
You can use this natural aphid repellent both indoors and outdoors to kill aphids on succulent plants.
Place food-grade Diatomaceous Earth around your plant’s stem as an aphid control measure.
You can also mix DE with water and spray over leaves to protect against aphids’ attacks.
Alcohol spray is another aphid control measure that works well. The alcohol will also kill aphids instantly after coming into contact with them.
You can make your own by mixing 70% grain or ethyl alcohol, 15 drops of liquid soap, and one liter of water in a spray bottle, then shake the mixture before use.
Spray it directly over the affected areas once you see aphid signs to get rid of any existing aphid population and their eggs.
Dish soap is a good aphid control measure that works well against aphids. It will break down the aphid’s waxy coating, causing their death.
Mix liquid dish soap with water and spray aphids affected areas of your succulent plants to get rid of them fast.
To use it as an aphid treatment, you can dilute dish soap with water and spray the soapy water solution over your succulent plants to suffocate them.
Another simple way to get rid of aphids naturally on succulent plants is by using beneficial insects such as ladybugs which feed exclusively on these pests.
You can also use parasitic wasps or lacewings, but only if you have enough patience because they are slower than ladybugs when eating aphids.
Also, follow conservation practices such as minimizing aphid’s breeding places and disposing of infested leaves.
Use these insect control measures to get rid of aphids on succulent plants naturally without using chemical insecticides harmful to your health, the environment, pets, or kids.
How To Prevent Aphids on Succulents
Aphids are among the most common pests for all kinds of plants, and they can infest your succulent garden if you do not take proper care to prevent them from appearing in the first place.
To prevent aphids on succulents, here are some things you need to do:
- Keep aphids away from your succulents as far as possible from other garden plants and trees because aphid colonies can migrate to them through the wind.
- Remove aphid-infested leaves immediately when you see them, including those that have fallen off already because aphids will lay eggs on these plant parts. If they hatch, all your effort in controlling aphids may go down the drain.
- Aphids are attracted to tender new growth, so do not over-fertilize or use too much nitrogen during winter, stimulating rapid succulent leaf growth. Instead, opt for a low nitrogen fertilizer such as ammonium sulfate at 30% strength. This might promote aphid reproduction rather than prevent it after springtime.
- Aphids are attracted to the color yellow so if you have aphid-infested plants, remove all yellow flowers and twigs from your garden because aphids love them. Plant different varieties of succulents that aphids don’t like as much, such as Echeveria or Aeonium, which typically grow well in containers.
- If aphids have infested your succulents, spray the infected plants with insecticidal soap or a neem oil-based pesticide.
- Ensure you do not overwater your succulent garden by keeping it dry and in bright sunlight. Aphid reproduction will be favored if it is kept under wet conditions, allowing fungi to grow on their bodies.
- Natural aphid predators like ladybugs and parasitic wasps keep aphids away from your garden. These beneficial insects need host plants to feed on, so plant them near your cactus gardens. Don’t use pesticides when aphids appear until all of these predatory insects have been killed by them first. Introduce small populations of aphid predators into aphid-infested succulents as a last resort.
Along with mealybugs, fungus gnats, spider mites, and scale insects, aphids are among the most common succulent pest. They can infest your succulent garden if you do not take proper care to prevent them.
Thankfully there is a simple process to kill aphids and aphid eggs so they can no longer bother your plants.
While this may take some time, it will be worth the wait once you see how healthy your plant looks after treatment!
Remember to look for aphids on succulents because they can be tiny.
They will usually appear as tiny dots that look like mold or dirt, so if you see something that seems out of the ordinary, there is a good chance you have an aphid problem!
Aphid eggs must also be dealt with since they can produce more aphids without treatment.
The aphid eggs typically hide behind buds and around the edges of leaves where the leaf meets another part of the plant.
So again, do not rush through just because you think nothing is happening; continue checking until all aphids have been killed!