What is eating my succulents is a question that signifies that your beautiful succulent plants are currently being attacked and you do not – yet – know the culprits.
Well, the culprits could be insects, mammals, birds, or even reptiles depending on your type of plant and the location of the garden.
Even though succulent pests can cause major damage to your plants, they are very easy to repel so long as you can follow the instructions in this article.
- What Is Eating My Succulents?
- What Are Effective and Proven Methods to Repel Pests From Your Succulent Plants?
What Is Eating My Succulents?
What is eating your succulent is one problem (or more) of the most common succulent issues. These include spider mites, mealy bugs, birds, fungus gnats, squirrels, rats, chipmunks, grasshoppers, lizards, and others. Let us consider each of these pests individually.
– Spider Mites Could Be To Blame
Spider mites are very popular arachnids that eat succulents. You can find spider mites at the back of the leaves or inside the rosettes of many succulent plants. You can identify them as they are mostly red and may be covered in silk. These invertebrates may not look like much, but they make succulent plants sick.
You will not notice bite marks in your succulents if they are attacked by spider mites. However, you will see that the plant is generally becoming weaker and the leaves paler. This is because the mites suck nutrients off your succulent leaves.
– There Are Mealy Bugs
Mealybugs are very popular garden pests that you should watch out for, especially if you have succulents. Just like spider mites, mealy bugs eat your succulent leaves by sucking as many nutrients as they can. These insects love succulent plants because the succulent plants have a lot of sap (food) in their leaves.
You can identify mealybugs with their white or gray color. They are usually behind the leaves or somewhere around the petiole. Also, they are not host-specific, so you should see them in different plants across your garden. If you can find them in one of your succulents, there is a high chance that they are in other plants.
– Birds Are Eating Your Plant
Do birds eat succulents? Birds such as house finches can peck on succulent plants. These birds may eat the leaves, flowers, or even seeds (if any) of the plants, so you need to watch out for them. Well, unless you have vegetables and seed-producing plants in your garden, birds will not stay in the garden for long.
Birds are most active during the day, so you can easily see them if they enter your succulent garden. You may also see their droppings on the ground or your plants’ leaves.
– Fungus Gnats and Your Succulents
Fungus gnats are not insects that you want anywhere near your succulent plants. While they may eat the roots and lower parts of your succulent plants, your major concern should be the cause of their presence. Fungus gnats mostly live in damp soils or soils that have been overwatered.
It may not seem like much, but remember that succulent plants prefer dry substrate or substrate with very low moisture.
This means that the ideal substrate for succulent plants is one that fungus gnats should never find attractive. When fungus gnats are attacking your succulents, keep in mind that your succulents are also dying from the excessive moisture of their substrate.
– Squirrels Love Succulents
You may see a squirrel eating succulents in your garden. Note that this is a very common occurrence, so do not be surprised when you see some squirrels in your succulent garden.
These little mammals love eating succulent leaves because of the water and nutrients in them, so you will mostly see squirrels visiting your garden in the summer months.
While squirrels may pass through the holes of your garden fence, they can also enter your garden from tree branches if there are any around your garden. If you have seen squirrels anywhere near your home, you need to check your garden and protect your plants from the little mammals.
– Caterpillars Are Harming the Plant
Caterpillars of butterflies and moths cause major damage to the leaves of your succulent plants as they do not stop eating. The mother butterfly or moth lays her eggs on or around your succulent plants and when the larvae hatch, they will attack and likely kill some plants.
These insect larvae eat the leaves, stems, and roots of succulents according to the species. Some larvae of moths which are called cutworms burrow into the soil during the day and attack your succulent plant’s roots and lower stem at night. Well, you can tell that there are caterpillars in your succulent garden as you will most likely see them.
– Rat Pests
Do rats eat succulents? Of course, rats are pests that attack almost every type of plant that you grow in your garden.
They eat many types of succulents, especially succulents like aloe vera and others that are not toxic. If there are rats in your succulent garden, you will surely see their bite marks on succulents and other plants in the garden.
While rats are mostly active at night, you may see them in your garden in the morning as well as evening hours. Rats pass through holes in your garden fence, so if your fence is porous, there is a high chance that there are rats in the garden.
– Snails and Slugs
If you have searched for the culprits in your succulent garden and are yet to find them, try searching for snails at night.
Snails love eating plant leaves and they do not care about the type of plant that they are eating. Your very beautiful succulents may look ugly when you check them in the morning as snails might have made holes in them at night.
If you have a bush nearby or you are growing herbaceous plants, there is a high chance that the snails are hiding near those plants during the day.
– Sometimes It a Chipmunk Problem
Do chipmunks eat succulents? Chipmunks are not fans of succulents as they prefer other sweet plant products such as seeds and fruits, but they will sometimes eat your succulents.
Chipmunks and other mammals gain a lot of moisture (water) and nutrients from the leaves of succulent plants, so they will likely visit your succulent garden in the summer months.
If there are chipmunks in your area, there is a high chance that they will visit your succulent garden. Well, chipmunks are very easy to spot in your garden. Also, they leave visible rat-like bite marks on your plants.
– Grasshoppers Eat Succulents
Grasshoppers may sometimes attack your succulent plants, especially if there aren’t many desirable plants such as vegetables in your garden. If there are grasshoppers in your garden, you will see them as they are active during the day. You will see them hopping from one plant to the next.
Do lizards eat succulents? Sure they do. Many lizards are omnivorous, meaning that they can eat plant and animal products.
Lizards will not cause any major damage to your succulent plants, but you should see a few tiny bite marks on the edges of the leaves. Lizards are mostly solitary, so they usually go unnoticed in gardens.
To tell if lizards are responsible for the bite marks or loss of leaves of your succulents, you should check around the plants or your garden for lizard poop. It is usually black or dark colored, slightly long, and has a dry tip.
What Are Effective and Proven Methods to Repel Pests From Your Succulent Plants?
There are many effective and proven methods to repel pests from your succulent plants – they include organic pest repellents such as neem oil and more industrial solutions like rubbing alcohol. You can also make nature work for you by introducing some pest control farm birds!
– Apply Neem Oil
If the culprits attacking your succulents are insects, you are in luck because you do not need to buy very expensive products.
All you need is neem oil, especially for small insects like thrips, scale insects, and aphids. Neem oil helps to repel the insects on your succulents as well as prevent them from attacking your plants so that your plants will grow pest-free.
All you need to do is to spray the oil on the leaves, petioles, stems, and root region of your succulent plants. To prevent the excessive use of your neem, make use of it to drive off pests that you see, i.e. only use it when there are pests on your plants.
– Apply Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol is another insecticidal product that you can use for your succulents. If used correctly, this product is very safe for your succulents yet effective.
You can use rubbing alcohol if insects like mealy bugs, scale, thrips, fungus gnats, spider mites, and aphids are attacking your succulent plants. You can spray your succulents with alcohol to prevent pests from attacking them.
To make rubbing alcohol for your succulents, you should mix half or one cup of rubbing alcohol and water in a spray bottle. Regularly spray the product on the leaves of your succulent plants and you’ll see how pest-free the plants will become.
– Make Use of Bug Spray
Bug spray refers to a spray made with dish soap used to repel or kill insects. Soap has many insecticidal properties, so making a product with it to kill insects is a common practice all over the world. Making this homemade bug spray for succulents is super easy, safe for your succulents, and will work, especially when you use it regularly.
You only need to get cheap kitchen soap and mix it with water. You will make use of a spray bottle to spray the product on the leaves of your succulents. Spray the succulent leaves in the morning so that excess water can dry or evaporate from the plant as the sun rises.
– Protect Your Succulents With a Fence
Just in case the pests attacking your succulents are mammals such as chipmunks and rats, you can keep them off your garden by installing a garden fence.
The type of fence that you should use depends on the type of pest that you want to keep off. For example, if you want to keep rats out, you need a wire mesh fence that rats cannot easily pass through.
Some pests can dig the ground below the fence and attack your plants. If you have such pests in your garden, try to install a fence 6 inches or more into the ground so that every pest will stay off your garden.
– Make Use of Snail Traps
Just in case your succulent pests are snails, you do not need to worry as snails are easy to repel from your garden. All you need is a snail trap that you can make with cheap beer. You only need to keep containers with the beer near your succulent plants at night to catch the snails.
When you check your succulent garden in the morning, you will find dead snails in the beer. The snail trap is rich in barley, yeast, and other ingredients that attract snails. When the snails visit the trap, they fall into it and drown in it.
– Repel Mammals With Pepper
If mammals such as rats, squirrels, and chipmunks are attacking your succulents, you can easily repel them by making a product made from water and pepper powder.
Mix pepper and water in a spray bottle and spray your succulent leaves with it. The product will make the leaves too peppery for chipmunks and other mammals, so they will leave your garden in search of other plants to eat.
Please do not overuse the pepper spray so that you don’t overwater your plants. Also, it is best that you spray the plants at night as most mammalian pests that attack succulents do so at night when you cannot see them.
– Employ Farm Birds
If the pests that are attacking your succulent plants are lizards, snails, and insects or arachnids, you can easily control their population by introducing chickens, ducks, pheasants, turkeys, and other farm birds into your garden. These birds will eat as many pests as they can find and keep your succulent plants pest-free.
Another benefit of these birds is that they can help your succulents to grow faster with their nutrient-rich droppings. Just please make sure that the birds do not damage your succulent roots by scratching the soil. If you see them scratching the soil around your succulents, remove them from the garden.
– Clean Your Succulent Leaves Regularly
If you want to keep pests off your succulent leaves, you need to develop the habit of cleaning the leaves regularly.
Cleaning your succulent leaves does not just keep pests off the plants, it also helps make the leaves look shiny as well as keep a healthy environment for your plants. You should make use of a slightly damp or dry cloth to wipe your succulent leaves.
If you want to make use of a slightly damp cloth, please do so in the morning so that the excess moisture can evaporate off the leaves quickly.
Please be gentle with the leaves while wiping them. Note that this method is only effective for insects that live on or around your plants.
– Remove Pests from the Succulent Leaves
The cheapest method to keep your succulent garden free from pests is to remove the pests as you see them.
No matter what your technique for preventing pests is, you will surely find some random insects, especially caterpillars in your garden. It is now up to you to remove them immediately after you see them.
If you leave them on your succulents, they will attack the leaves. You should remove and kill them or transfer them to a faraway place so that they cannot harm your plants anymore. Note that if you cannot touch the insects with your hands, you can make use of gloves or a brush to remove them.
– Use Insecticides
Just in case you have tried other methods and you do not get good results in repelling insects off your succulents, what is remaining for you is to make use of store-bought chemical insecticides.
A pro of using chemical products such as these is that you can find products that are made specifically for the insect attacking your plants.
However, a con is that most of these products are not organic, so you cannot use them if you aim in growing your succulents in a strictly-organic garden. To make use of the pesticides, spray them directly on the insects to kill them off your plants.
Truly, there are so many types of succulent pests and you can now easily repel them after reading this article.
Please remember the following points from the article:
- Some invertebrate pests that attack your succulents are spider mites, mealy bugs, fungus gnats, grasshoppers, caterpillars, thrips, snails, etc.
- Some vertebrates that attack your succulent plants are birds, squirrels, rats, chipmunks, lizards, etc.
- Homemade products like bug spray and rubbing alcohol can work wonders in repelling pests from your succulent plants.
- You want to keep your succulent plants clean and healthy as you can easily repel pests from clean plants.
- The cheapest way to grow pest-free succulents is to search for the pests and remove them by yourself.
Now you can grow succulent plants with little or no pests, right? Make sure to use the tips in this article.
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