A cactus might not look like the friendliest place to make your home, but some pests love making a new home on a cactus. While cacti are extremely easy to grow because they require little to no water, they do require attention from time to time in order to keep them healthy and safe.
Lots of different pests can inhabit a cactus. Here are some DIY pest control tips that can keep your cacti healthy and pest-free:
Identification: Mealybugs leave a white fuzz on your cactus, which is an easy way to know that you have a bug problem. Once they are fully grown, mealybugs look like tiny crabs. These bugs multiply quickly, so take quick action. One female can lay 600 eggs!
Prevention: Just like killing a spider, these small bugs can be killed by hand simply by crushing them. If you’re more of a hands-off bug killer, you can dab a mealybug with rubbing alcohol or spray it with a mixture of liquid dish soap and water. After applying the soap, let it sit for a day and then gently rinse that area of the cactus.
Identification: Mice and rats are always looking to upgrade their home. Some Arizona homeowners have been surprised by rodents who eat through the bottom of an outdoor cactus and will hide or even try to live inside of it!
Prevention: You can wrap the bottom of your cactus in wire mesh, but that isn’t always the most visually appealing option. If you know mice are eating your cactus you can set out traps, or even buy small bags that smell like pine. Rodents hate the smell of Christmas trees!
Rodents such as mice and rats can cause your family harm. Check out our rodent control—including treatments for roof rats!
Identification: If spider mites are making your cactus their home, you will see yellow and rust-colored spots staining your plant. These critters are exceptionally small - you might not even be able to see them until after they’ve damaged your plant.
Prevention: Spider mites like to move from plant to plant, so by the time they are detected they might already be living on nearby cacti or other plants. Prevention is key to controlling spider mites. Once they move in, they’re exceptionally hard to get rid of.
We recommend buying a pesticide that specifically says on the label that it controls spider mites. Ladybugs are also exceptional at naturally controlling spider mites outdoors.
Identification: Scale are small tan or brown bugs that like to eat sap. They look like very tiny bubbles. After they are done eating away at an area, you will be able to see a large scar on the cactus. A female can lay three hundred eggs at once, so a lot of damage can be done in a short amount of time.
Prevention: When you find scale on your cactus, remove them with your fingers or a pair of tweezers. If your cactus is strong enough you can spray it with a garden hose to get them off, but keep in mind that they’ll just come back.
To help keep scale off your cactus, feed the roots an insecticide during the growing season. This will prevent scale from invading your plants.
Identification: Ants don't directly harm your cactus, but they will be attracted to it and can even carry mealybugs and spider mites.
Prevention: Spraying lemon juice around your cactus will help keep ants away. You can also use insecticides that repel ants.
Ants causing you problems? Our comprehensive pest control solutions cover ant control—no additional packages needed!
CACTI CAN BE DANGEROUS!
We all know the scenes in cartoons where a character falls on a cactus and shoots into the air. That might be a funny exaggeration, but cacti do injure people every year.
If you’re concerned about the health of your cacti and other outdoor plants, but the thought of pests in your cacti and other plants gives you a prickly feeling - turn to a professional!
This blog was written by Ryan Michel, Owner of Defense Pest Control
Learn more about how Defense Pest Control can keep pests out of your cacti and the rest of your yard!