Mycoplasma on echeveria (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Are pests or mysterious maladies causing problems with your succulents?

Start with this site's Succulent Pests, Diseases and Problems resource page, where you'll find 30+ succulent concerns to watch for. For each I show a photo, explain the severity (from normal to fatal), describe the problem, and tell what action to take if any.

Not finding what you need?

Please post a comment below, so others can see it and benefit from my answer as well. Your own tried-and-true solutions are welcome, too!

This page is a forum for you to ask questions and share what works for you. 

So, if you have pests, problems or concerns that aren't answered elsewhere, do let me know...HERE please, rather than emailing me. 

I normally answer within 24 hours.

Thanks! ~ Debra

P.S. And if you happen to contend with skunks---or just want a good laugh---here's what NOT to do. (Filmed by Jeanne Meadow in her succulent garden. Her poor husband!)

Related info

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Succulent Pests, Diseases and Problems Keep your succulents healthy, happy and looking their very best When a succulent isn’t looking quite right, you may wonder if you’ve done something wrong. Here’s what to look for: symptoms, causes, severity, prevention, and treatments for common succulent pests, diseases and problems. VIDEOS: On my YouTube Channel, be sure…

Agave Snout Weevil Prevention and Treatment

Agave experts, growers, and pest management specialists advise drenching the soil around healthy agaves with a systemic insecticide containing imidacloprid.* Untreated agaves are at high risk of infestation. If treated early enough, an infested agave may survive.  The agave snout-nosed weevil is a half-inch-long black beetle with a downward-curving proboscis that enables it to pierce an agave’s…

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Echeveria being sprayed (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

How to Deal with Mealy Bugs on Succulents

If you grow succulents, sooner or later you’ll deal with mealy bugs. For newbies, mealies often come as a surprise. Suddenly the plants are dotted and webbed with what looks like lint. Veterans are more vigilant. We check for

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18 Comments

  1. Lizzy on July 5, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    Hi Debra ,
    I have learned a lot from your site about succulents and their care.
    Especially helpful to me is the information you provided on the snout nose weevil.
    Unfortunately, all of my various agaves have been attacked. It took me over 3 hours to dig up around 50 in various sizes. Many more hours treating the soil for the larve and the plants. I was able to save 90 percent.
    I am so glad you included the information on the treatment and prevention. By the way, most folks I talk to are unaware of the pest even at some major nursery’s in the north county of San Diego where I reside. It’s hard to believe that most people are unaware of this garden pest!

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on July 5, 2019 at 1:39 pm

      Hi Lizzy — I know. Drives me nuts. I do my best to get the word out, but you’re right, most folks and even nursery employees are unaware of agave snout-nose weevil. I guess no one wants to hear bad news or to be told they need to tackle an unpleasant, time-consuming task. It’s only the true gardeners—people like you, me and Jeanne Meadow—who want to know what’s threatening our private Edens and quickly take action to prevent it. But hey, isn’t it terrific that you salvaged 90%? Round of applause, girl! That’s how it’s done! — Debra

  2. Richard Slechta on July 5, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    Hi Debra,
    Such a helpful guide to those tricky pests and problems.

    What can you tell us about why Aloe tips turn brown? I’ve seen it on several varieties of mine and in others gardens, but most common on the ones with longer leaves, like Marlothii and Dichotoma. It doesn’t resemble a insect pest damage, nor from physical trauma. I’m in Los Angeles about 5 miles from the coast, so we do get dew regularly.
    Thanks for any tips you can offer.
    Cheers, Richard

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on July 5, 2019 at 2:39 pm

      Hi Richard — Yep. Right now I have an Aloe thraskii that has unsightly browned (then whitened) leaf tips, and I’m debating what to do about it. On the one hand, they protect the rest of the leaf and those beneath from harsh sun and temperature extremes. On the other, I’m tired of looking at them. To answer your question, leaf tip desiccation is usually an aftermath of frost or scorching sun. It can also be related to under-watering…the plant can’t manage to pump water all the way to the tips (not enough hydraulic pressure). It’s not caused by overwatering…that’s when the core rots, not the tips. Some species are prone to leaf-tip desiccation, especially spotted ones (A. maculata and hybrids) and IMHO the way the dry tips curl looks kind of cool. When trimming any pointed succulent leaf (including agaves), make two cuts to create an outward-pointing “V,” so the cut isn’t as noticeable as straight across. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Karen on July 5, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    I have squirrels chewing on my succulents. Any advice?

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on July 5, 2019 at 6:57 pm

      If you live in an area where predators like coyotes are kept out (like a gated community), bunnies and squirrels may be prolific. Some measures that can help include: Installing an owl box; dusting the plants with crushed red chilis or spraying a squirrel repellent. Also there are solar- and battery-powered electronic devices that emit a high-frequency sound that repels squirrels and the like. This one, for about $30 on Amazon, can be set for cats, dogs, skunks, squirrels and raccoons.

      • George Tabora on July 13, 2019 at 11:39 am

        I actually caught one this morning using a trap. I wanted to post a picture here but I do not know how. However, Amazon sells a similar trap for $20, called “Heavy Duty Squirrel Trap Chipmunk Trap and Other Similar-Size Rodents”. If you have a garden, you must have one of these because it is the only product I know that works every time. (Very good in catching rabbits, too). I used four pieces of almonds as bait. Any nuts, except peanuts, will do as bait for squirrels. Make sure that you release the squirrel far from your garden because squirrels will easily find their way back to your garden if released nearby. It is worth driving a couple of miles away to release this creature in the open. Good Luck!

        • Debra Lee Baldwin on July 13, 2019 at 1:28 pm

          Hi George — Good to know, especially about the almonds. No wonder squirrels leave my bird feeders alone. I’ve read that squirrels can find their way home if released within 7 miles. (They did studies after painting tails, transporting, and releasing.) Now here’s the thing: No one wants a squirrel released on their property, and it’s illegal to release one on public land, so where do you take it? Maybe to the beach (beyond the surf break)? Don’t answer that.

          • George Tabora on July 13, 2019 at 7:56 pm

            Hi Debra – Good point. One must check with their Fish and Game local agency office to make sure regulations are abided by when dealing with game and non-game mammals.



          • Connie Beck on December 9, 2020 at 12:07 pm

            I’m pretty sure it is against state law to take rodents and vermin off your own property. Besides, when you dump them someplace else they are in an established area for others of their kind, and those others are not welcoming: they kill the dropped off intruders. If you are going to catch them you probably should just drown them on your own property.



          • Debra Lee Baldwin on December 9, 2020 at 1:28 pm

            Yep. I agree.



  4. Monica Mosack on July 22, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    I have raccoons in my neighborhood. My front yard is full of succulents and vegetable plants. The raccoons paw through the dirt at night looking for delicious grubs. I placed medium sized black lava rocks around the roots of my vegetable plants. The raccoons can dig for grubs in areas between the plant rows. Works for all of us. I used to have bunnies and squirrels in my backyard. Getting 4 dogs seems to have solved that problem. The only animal brave enough to go back there is the opossum who taunts the dogs from the fence.

  5. Kristi on December 6, 2020 at 9:55 am

    Help!!!! At my wits end with an infestation of what I think is mealy bugs on my beloved Jade plant. I’ve sprayed the plant with 70% Isopropyl alcohol repeatedly and still have a problem. Not too mention hard to spray in the shower with the smell!!! I live in Denver so needless to say its cold here! There is damage/scarring where the leaves meet the stem and in the middle of some of the leaves. The plant is very big and dense so its difficult to spray into the middle and hit all the leaves and underneath. The plant is very heavy but we do have some warmer weather this week that I can take it outside to spray the plant with alcohol heavily. Short of cutting off every leaf, is there anything else I can try? Is there a safe systemic insecticide to try? I have all your books, watch your You Tube videos and follow you on Instagram! I feel I am doing what I need to do but don’t seem to getting rid of these pests! Before I get overcome with alcohol or do major surgery, do you have any suggestions?
    I so appreciate your help! Keep up the good work!
    Thanks, Kristi

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on December 6, 2020 at 3:53 pm

      Hi Kristi —

      Once a mealy bug infestation gets that bad, conventional wisdom is to get rid of the plant. But this one is important to you, so here are some things to try:

      — Take it outside on a warm day (above 40 degrees) and hose it down. It’s OK if some leaves fall off. If they’re that loose, they probably would anyway.

      — Repot it. Mealies can get in the soil.

      — If that’s not possible, fill a bucket with water and add systemic insecticide “for sucking insects” and use per label directions. Wear gloves. Brands available on Amazon are BioAdvanced and Monterey Systemic Soil Drench. Let sit until the soil is soaked—an hour or so.

      — After it’s hosed (and/or soaked), drench leaves and stems with dilute insecticide. Let the plant dry before bringing it back into the house.

      OK, now the bugs are killed. You still need to prevent an infestation from recurring.

      — Do NOT put the plant back where it was. However, DO clean the area thoroughly, because mealies can hide in, and lay eggs in, the tiniest crevices.

      — Check other potted plants for the pests. Indoor plants can be breeding grounds. Get rid of or isolate any that have the problem. Treat with alcohol. If plants are severely infested but are worth saving, follow the steps above.

      — Good air circulation is key to keeping airborne pests from settling in. To help it recover over the winter, you might put your jade under full-spectrum lights and use a fan (both on a 12-hour timer).

      — Consider thinning it out so air circulates through the plant. Jade cuttings are as good as having new plants, they’re that easy to start.

      Keep me posted on the patient’s progress!

  6. James Maeding on December 9, 2020 at 11:31 am

    Hi Debra,
    The mealy bug topic could use some more info I think.
    How do those insects spread in the first place, besides a human moving them maybe by using contaminated soil from another plant with them? I think its ants that plant them, to then eat the sticky stuff they seem to make.
    Will they crawl from plant to plant, fly?
    Is the tiny crawling form a larvae that will turn into a fly?
    That matters as it explains how they might spread, and what stage we are killing them at, and what chemicals work on what stage.
    I use Bioadvanced 3 in 1 insect disease and mite control, not the one you listed. I use it on all plants in the yard and it works pretty well.
    However, the mealys that hide under mounds of spempervivums are hard to get at. Even if you re-pot, they can hide in the soil and leaves.
    I think that soil drench might be the trick.
    I also use a toothbrush to remove them from leaves, so physical attention pays.
    Anyway, would like to know more on how these things seem to survive and spread more, as things like ant spray might be in order too.

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on December 9, 2020 at 1:14 pm

      Hi James — Thank you for a well-thought-out comment. I do have an entire page devoted to mealy bugs that addresses much of this. The pests weigh less than nothing, so when plants are outdoors (or indoors with good air circulation) mealies generally aren’t a problem. On the other hand, their ubiquity is largely due to their landing on plants just like bits of dust do. Yes, they pupate, but they don’t fly. Re using a toothbrush, that might be OK on sempervivums, which have leaves like crisp paper, but it might damage the softer tissues of echeverias (which are candy to mealies) and certainly aeoniums, which tend to show black marks as a result of abrasion.

  7. Carole on January 16, 2021 at 10:13 am

    My Euphorbia Lactea ‘White Ghost’ has developed blackish-brown rings. Any idea how I treat this, please? You are welcome to use the picture if you’ve come across this before.

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on January 16, 2021 at 12:23 pm

      Hi Carole — Uh-oh. Sounds like rot. It’s super easy to overwater these plants. And even if you don’t, they’re finicky. Also possibly sunburn. You may need to take cuttings of the healthy tissue and restart it in fresh soil.

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