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What's eating your cacti?

Many different types of cacti can survive in Arizona, so it is common to plant and cultivate cacti as part of the landscaping. While most species of cacti have sharp thorns that deter pests, certain types of pests still find a way in. The following are a few different types of insects that may be eating your cacti, along with some tips for protecting your cacti from these pests.

If you're finding a lot of pests on your plants, contact Western Exterminator by calling 888-444-6138 or by reaching out online to discuss how to get rid of these creatures.


Cactus bugs

Cactus bugs are brown to blackish bugs that are about ¬Ĺ inch long and have yellow veins through their wings, a yellow stripe across their heads, and a yellow pronotum. These bugs are thick-bodied and teardrop shaped. After cactus bugs have fed on a plant yellow-green rings remain. If enough cactus bugs feed on a plant, the plant may become more susceptible to diseases and fungi because of the open wounds left by the bugs and may eventually die. Surface¬†products may help to ward off the insects.

Scale insects

There are many different types of scale insects that may attack cacti. These insects multiply extremely rapidly and can completely cover a cactus in a few days, giving the cactus a fuzzy appearance. The insects pierce the plant and leave a scar, which can make cacti more susceptible to diseases. A good method for removing scale insects is to spray down the cactus with a medium-pressure garden hose nozzle, then to treat the roots of the plant with a pest control product to keep the bugs from coming back.



Mealybugs typically attack the stems and roots of cacti, so they may be difficult to detect without unpotting or uprooting the plant. Mealybugs are tiny, so they look like a white or grayish powder when they appear on the roots. Removal is similar to scale insects, but a pressurized nozzle may harm the roots, so it may be necessary to use a toothbrush instead. Treating the roots with a systemic pest control product will be more effective if done as a preventative than as a treatment for infestation.

Spider mites

Spider mites are very tiny mites that create a web-like silk on whatever plant is being infested. Spider mites look like miniature red spiders and can be spotted by the dry brown areas that they leave on the cactus. Spider mites will eat the entire outer layer of a cactus if left untreated, resulting in the death of the cactus. Since spider mites will quickly spread and infest all cacti in the area, infested cacti should be quarantined until the mites are gone. Pest control products must specifically state spider mite control, as some standard products will not kill spider mites. Some pest control products will not kill spider mite eggs, so it is necessary to treat infested cacti several times to eliminate infestations.

Cactus longhorn beetles

Adult cactus longhorn beetles are about 1 to 1 ¼ inches in length and black in color. Their antennae can be quite long. They can harm cacti such as the prickly pear. Try to remove these beetles by hand if they’re affecting your plants.

Noticing that pests are ruining your cacti? Get in touch with Western Exterminator today.

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