What if I told you that I found the PERFECT insecticide that DOESN’T KILL BEES or LADYBUGS but at the same time DOES kill mealybugs on succulents as well as aphids, mites, and anything else you don’t want creeping on your plants!?! Would you believe it or does it sound too good to be true?
Well, my friend, it’s 100% legit AND IT WORKS!
Disclosure: I’ve included affiliate links in this post for succulents from Amazon for Azamax. (Please note: Azamax is NOT paying me directly. I’m sharing this product with you because I swear by it!!) Your cost through these links is NEVER increased while your purchase supports this site with a teensy commission. Thank you!
Ahhh there’s nothing like mealybugs on succulents. Tiny, white, cottony bugs that suck the living daylights out of your beloved plants, leaving behind black sooty mold and attracting ants that actually PROTECT them! Could anything be more fun to deal with?
Well, I guess I could be fighting scale, thrips, or mites, but then again, this method works for those too so I guess it’s not THAT big of a deal!
What are Mealybugs?
Mealybugs are tiny (under 1/10″) unarmored scale insects that can invade ANYONE’S plants – ANYWHERE in the world. It doesn’t matter how “clean” you keep your growing area or where you get your plants from (altho Lowes and Home Depot are notorious for heavily infested plants) no one is immune.
Did you know the mealybugs that you see on your plants are actually females? The males can fly and their only job is to fertilize the female. The females feed on plant juices usually on new growth, where the leaves meet the stem or below the surface on the roots. (I KNOW – GROSS) Mealybugs attach themselves to the plant where they will then secrete a powdery, waxy coating. This is used for protection and also to lay their eggs in – up to 600 of them over the course of a lifetime. Thankfully once the female runs out of eggs (or babies in some species) she dies (but has left a bajillion babies in her place to repeat the cycle).
The young nymphs aka crawlers will begin to journey over the plant looking for a place to feed. They will secrete honeydew (which can turn into a black sooty mold) and the crawlers will also start to form the waxy coating over their body. As soon as you notice mealybugs on your succulents, immediately quarantine them FAR away from the rest of your plants and depending on the severity of infestation, you may want to treat any and all plants in the vicinity.
What are some options when it comes to killing mealybugs on succulents?
AzaMax – my ORGANIC go-to solution for ANY and ALL pests. Does NOT harm lady bugs or bees. Has incredible reviews on Amazon (and a LOT more new ones since I bought it last!)
Unrefined Neem Oil – Works well, separates in water unlike AzaMax which keeps an emulsion.
Refined Neem Oil – this is the active ingredient in a lot of “natural” products you’ll find at Lowes and Home Depot (Garden Safe for example). They lack azadirachtin, the compound that actually kills the pests. Avoid, waste of money.
Insecticides from Bayer and/or other products containing poisons such as Imidacloprid – AVOID AVOID AVOID – KILLS HONEY BEES AND ALL OTHER BENEFICIAL INSECTS NOT TO MENTION HAZARDOUS TO HEALTH!
70% Rubbing alcohol – works well in conjunction with AzaMax soil drench to speed up the killing process.
Beneficial Insects such as lady bugs.
How to Control Mealybugs on Succulents with AzaMax
AzaMax is an ORGANIC derivative of neem and can be used as a foliar spray or soil drench (perfect for those nasty root mealies or for plants that have a powdery farina coating) and works best BEFORE you notice a huge problem. It can be used all the way up to harvest on your fruit and vegetables, misted on your plantlets that you have growing from succulent leaves, and as a matter of fact, I’ve even used it on my teeny lithops seedlings!
It’s best to be PRO-ACTIVE so start using AzaMax at the beginning of the season to protect your plants all year long.
Here’s a snippet from the AzaMax website that explains it well:
AzaMax is an all-natural, OMRI certified broad spectrum pest control product that can be applied systemically or as a foliar spray.
AzaMax is made from special Azadirachtin Technical extracted from the neem seed using patented extraction technology. The neem tree is known for its innumerable benefits. AzaMax contains Azadirachtin A&B as active ingredients and more than 100 limonoids. AzaMax does not use harsh chemical solvents and instead uses food grade ingredients. AzaMax is OMRI listed and licensed in all 50 states.
Speaking of food grade ingredients, I spray it directly onto my tomatoes in the garden right before it’s time to pick them to keep any last minute bugs at bay.
How to use AzaMax for Mealybugs on Succulents
First, you’ll need to decide if you want to use it as a foliar spray or as a soil drench (also referred to as “systematically”). I have used it as both and prefer it as a soil drench since I can just add it to my watering jug and easily apply. One other note: AzaMax appears to be pricey but it’s really not. For example, you only need to use 1/2 tablespoon per quart of water which is minuscule.
How to use AzaMax as a Foliar Spray
The instructions for AzaMax will tell you how much product to use for your desired application. Let’s look here at the foliar spray amounts. I have always used the lowest concentration and got excellent results (I knocked out thrips and aphids this past winter with it overnight).
Once you mix the water with the AzaMax (don’t worry about using a hazmat suit, you won’t need it with this), spray it onto your plant making sure you coat it completely. Get the tops and bottom of leaves as well as the soil. Don’t be afraid to lay it on there. Let the plant dry in the shade overnight. Reapply according to the directions at the specified intervals.
How to use AzaMax Systematically (soil drench method)
I like using AzaMax as a soil drench simply because it’s easiest. I also have a lot of plants with farina (powdery coating) that I don’t want to ruin PLUS it guarantees if there are any root mealies, those will end up dead as well. The drench method works because the roots take up their drinking water along with the AzaMax so when the bugs bite the plant, they get a dose of their own medicine (and die!).
To use as a drench, simply pour the mixture into the soil, saturating it completely. Alternatively, you can dunk your pot into a bucket of the AzaMax solution. Repeat per label directions. This rescue PVN has improved drastically as you can see from all of the new growth with beautiful pink tips!
Neem Oil for Mealybugs on Succulents?
So called “natural” brands of neem insecticide such as Garden Safe (and others that are found in big box stores) remove the insect growth regulator (azadirachtin) that is found in unrefined neem oil (above). What you’re left with is a REFINED neem oil that is no different than using any other oil such as corn, soy, or canola and in my opinion, a total waste of money since you probably already have these in your pantry anyway.
IF you want to use neem oil, make sure that it is UNREFINED like this Naked Neem brand (pictured) as it still has the growth regulator, azadirachtin. You can also use unrefined neem for hair, skin, and nails, too!!
One noted benefit of AzaMax over neem is that it has emulsification properties. If you were to mix up your batch of neem spray, you’d quickly notice that the neem oil floats right to the top. With AzaMax, the solution mixes beautifully so you don’t have to constantly shake it as you’re using it (altho it’s still a good idea to shake it every so often).
How to use Rubbing Alcohol to Kill Mealybugs on Succulents
Dip a cotton swab in alcohol and dab up any creepy crawlies that you see. To be honest, I detest mealybugs and I actually pull them off with a skewer and roll it on a hard surface until the red goo pops out. Hey, it works and I get satisfaction knowing the thing is really dead. If you’re squeamish, go with the cotton swab method.
After you have removed all the visible mealybugs, spray your plant down really well with 70% isopropyl alcohol (you can mix it with 50% water to be safe). Keep the plant in the shade until completely dry. Be sure to also wipe down the rim and bottoms of the planter as well as the shelf since there may be some mealies in hiding. Afterwards, apply Azamax soil drench to give you peace of mind (cause we all know rubbing alcohol alone is an uphill battle).
Have you ever tried AzaMax? If so, what did you think? If not, what have you used to control mealies and did it work? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear other opinions on the topic!
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