How To Get Rid Of Mealybugs On Succulents & In Soils

In this article, I’ll be giving you tips on how to get rid of mealybugs on succulents such as cacti and from soils.

Sometimes you may notice that your plants look like they’re covered in snow-like spots. Well, it isn’t snow, they are most likely mealybugs.

A mealybug infestation is bad for the health of your plant, and you should get rid of them as soon as possible.

Keep reading!

Basic Ways Of Getting Rid Of Mealybugs

No need to fret when your plants are under attack by mealybugs. Just follow these simple steps and they will be gone.

Inspect The Plants

The first thing you need to do to prevent or rid your plants of mealybugs is to inspect your plants regularly. Doing so will help you detect any mealybug infestation early enough to prevent further spread.

It is a lot easier to handle a small amount of them before they expand into a large colony.

Isolate Infested Plants

After inspection, if you find that some of the plants are infected, then you need to isolate them from the rest of the healthy plants.

After you have done this, be sure to wash your hands before touching any of the healthy plants, as a few might hand on to your hand and hop back on the other plants.

If the mealybug infestation isn’t much, then they can easily be handled.

If the infestation is heavy, then you may need to completely forfeit the plant and get a new one to replace it. This could be painful, but it’s much better than having all your plants infected.

Below are the basic things you will need to treat a mealybug infestation.

  • Gloves
  • 70% rubbing alcohol
  • Dawn dish soap
  • Cotton balls
  • Cotton swabs
  • Spray bottle
  • Bowl or watering can
  • Water

Follow these steps –

Step 1

Insert the cotton balls and swabs in some alcohol and pick out all the mealybugs your eyes can see on the plant.

Use the cotton balls to wipe clean the surface of the leaves and use the swabs to clean in-between the gaps.

Step 2

Make a mixture of rubbing alcohol and some drops of dawn dish soap with 1/4 (32oZ) of water, then empty the solution into a spray bottle.

Step 3

Spray the plant using the spray bottle. Be sure to spray everywhere, not just where the mealybugs are visible. Get all parts of the leaves and under the stems as well.

One session is not enough to rid your plant of the mealybugs. You need to keep this up at least once a week until there are no longer signs of mealybugs.

Note: Be sure you cover up the surface where you are spraying the solution so there will be no damage to your furniture or your floors.

Also, keep in mind that you need to wash your hands thoroughly after each spraying session before you touch another healthy plant. Doing this will prevent a possible spread.

How To Get Rid Of Mealybugs On Succulents Like Cactus

Those who grow succulents would have at some point or the other come across mealybugs on their plants.

They spread easily on succulents, but luckily, there is a way to effectively and safely get rid of them without the risk of burns that traditional pesticides carry.

Once again, early detection remains your best bet at getting rid of them from your succulents. Be sure to check every possible hiding place in and around the leaves then scrape away the top surface of the soil and take a quick look to be sure the bugs aren’t hiding beneath.

It’s not difficult to remove mealybugs from cactus and other succulents, especially when you employ simple and affordable DIY solutions.

One of the most effective means of removing mealybugs from succulents is with the use of isopropyl alcohol.

If the infestation on your succulent is minor, then a simple cotton swab dip in rubbing alcohol, and a wipe across the succulent will do the trick.

Rubbing alcohol kills mealybugs on contact and it evaporates quickly so the smell will be gone in no time.

This treatment needs to be repeated to be sure you get them all.

Spraying the alcohol directly on the bugs is an alternative to rubbing it

Succulents are delicate, so you would want to first test the rubbing alcohol on a small part of the plant before using it on the entire plant.

The gray waxy coating of the succulent will be negatively affected if pure rubbing alcohol is used on it.

Do not use chemical pesticides on the succulents, it will kill the mealybugs, but will also harm the plant.

How To Kill Mealybugs With Liquid Soap & Water

Does dish soap get rid of mealybugs? Yes. Here is a recipe that works.

Pure Castile liquid soap and water is another means by which you can get rid of mealybugs.

To make a castile soap spray, follow the instructions below.

Step 1

Mix a teaspoon of liquid dish soap with a quart of water and pour it in a spray bottle.

Step 2

Similar to when using rubbing alcohol, be sure to first test the solution on a small part of the plant and the effects after about 24 hours. If there is no damage to the tested part, then you can proceed to use it on the rest of the plant.

Step 3

Of the infestation is severe, then you can remove the plant from its pot, place it under a tap, and wash it clean using the tap’s running water.

Step 5

Soak the plant in a liquid dish soap solution just in case any mealybugs are hiding in areas you cannot see. Doing the will drown the mealybugs.

After it is soaked, leave it to dry and give it a slight shake before placing it back in its pot.

To be sure the plant is free from mealybugs, keep it isolated away from other healthy plants for a few weeks. If there are unseen eggs or nymphs still hanging on the plant, then they would hatch in the coming weeks.

If this happens then repeat the disinfestation process.

Using Neem Oil To Get Rid Of Mealybugs

As good as rubbing alcohol and soap solution works in killing mealybugs, it doesn’t keep them away. Neem oil on the other hand will not only kill them but will prevent them from coming back.

You can purchase a neem oil spray and use it all over the infested plant. Make sure you spray even the tightest corners since that is where the eggs are most likely laid.

Do Not Overwater Your plants

Mealybugs love plants that are very moist or overly fertilized. So if you want to keep them away you should keep watering modestly.

Overwatered succulents are usually weak and they develop rot root, and this attracts not just mealybugs, but other pests as well.

Sanitize Your Environment

After the mealybug infestation has been taken care of on your plants, you will need to ensure that the surrounding areas are cleaned thoroughly. This is because mealybugs are small insects that can easily get away.

There may be mealybugs creeping along with the drip saucers, flowerpots, and other surfaces around your plants.

Immediately after disinfestation, examine the areas around the plant and search for mealybugs that may have survived. If you still have any rubbing alcohol solution left, use it to wipe the flower pots and drip saucers. This should kill the rest of them.

Any area around your succulent or other plants that has cracks or crevices need to be inspected regularly to ensure no mealybugs are hiding in them.

It may surprise you, but mealybugs are capable of existing in a dormant state for long periods so if you don’t inspect the cracks, then you’ve let some mealybugs survive.

They can breed in those cracks and produce more nymphs who will in a matter of weeks become adult mealybugs. Trust me, they will attack the closest plant they come across and you will have to start disinfesting all over again.

Getting rid of mealybugs from your plant cannot be considered to be a difficult task. However, you must remain observant and maintain good cleaning practices to be sure you’re getting rid of them all.

How To Get Rid Of Mealybugs In Soil

Mealybugs aren’t just surface pests, the go into the soil and attack the plant roots too.

To get rid of them, you can remove the plant from the pot and give it a thorough tap was. Leave it to dry then spray with rubbing alcohol and the mealybugs will be gone.

Remember to empty the old flower pot and wash it before you re-plant.


As tiny as mealybugs are, they can cause a lot of damage to your plants. It is easy to tackle mealybug infestation during the early stages, but it’s much tougher when their spread has gotten out of control.

All in all, as far as mealybug infestation is concerned, there’s nothing some rubbing alcohol, liquid soap insecticide, or Neem oil cannot fix.

Follow the extermination and prevention steps discussed above and your plants will be fine.

I trust this article on how to get rid of mealybugs has been helpful.

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