Succulents, like all plants, are susceptible to pest infestations. Sometimes, the pests are readily visible and at other times difficult to see, but their damage is obvious. An example of this is succulent mite damage. Mites that affect succulents, of which there are many, are difficult to see with the naked eye but their damage is there for the world to see. Read on to find out about mites on succulent plants and succulent mite control.
Mites That Affect Succulents
Due to the dizzying array of succulents to choose from, many people are so fascinated by them they become virtual succulent hoarders. Collecting succulents is a great hobby but the one downside may be if the collection becomes pest infested. Pest and diseases especially afflict large collections and can be difficult to control in its entirety.
Mealybugs, scale, whitefly, various weevils and a few varieties of mitesare examples of pests that attack succulents. Most pests can be controlled with systemic or contact insecticides, insecticidal soaps and sometimes natural predators. How about mites?
Succulent Mite Control
Spider mites damage both cacti and succulents by sucking the plant’s juices. The first sign you have spider mites on succulent plants will be webbing and small brown spots on young growth. These tiny “insects” are not really insects at all but are more closely related to spiders. They look like dust when viewed by the naked eye.
Red spider mites are actually reddish-brown in color and thrive in hot, dry conditions. They dislike humidity, so misting and overhead watering can reduce their incidence. These red spider mites should not be confused with harmless, much larger red mite, which is a harmless predator mite. To thoroughly rid the plant of these mites, use a miticideaccording to the manufacturer’s directions. There is also a predator that can be used as a biological control, Phytoseiulus persimilis. This predator requires temperatures over 70 F. (21 C.) and it’s also difficult to maintain a balance between predator and prey.
Spider mites are not the only mites responsible for afflicting succulents. Mites that feed on aloe also attack other species such as Haworthia and Gasteri, and are called eriophyid mites. Unlike spider mites, which have four sets of legs, these mites have two sets of legs.
As this mite feeds, it injects a chemical into the tissue that results in galling or other abnormal growth. In the case of aloe plants, aloe succulent mite damage is irreversible and the plant must be discarded. Place infected plants in a plastic bag or incinerate to prevent contamination of other plants. If infestation is minimal, treat the plant with a miticide according to manufacturer’s instructions. Frost hardy aloes can be exposed to freezing temperatures, which will kill the mites.
Another mite, the two-spotted mite, feeds primarily on yucca. Under a microscope, this mite is pink, yellow-green or red with two dark spots on its body. These mites have eight legs but no wings or antennae. Tell-tale signs of the presence of the two-spotted mite are tan or gray stippling of foliage.
As the infestation progresses, again, a fine webbing can be seen on the undersides of leaves. If the infestation is severe, the plant will die. Insecticidal soap and keeping the plant area high in humidity by misting will retard the mite population. Also, chemical control with the aid of products known as acaricides will help.
To really get a handle on the mites, inspect the succulents frequently so you can take action before the infestation gets out of hand. Keep the plants healthy with the proper amount of water, fertilizer and light. Remove any dead or dying succulent parts and dispose of truly ailing plants immediately.