8 Ways to Get Rid of Cactus Bugs and Bring Your Succulent Back to Life

Most cacti grow in the southernmost states of the USA, like Arizona, California, and Texas. They are also highly adaptable as indoor plants.

These plants are specialized in retaining moisture for long periods, and their attractive patterns and colors make them desirable houseplants.

Cactus Bugs

Cacti and succulents have tough adaptations that protect them from predators and allow them to survive in harsh environmental conditions.

However, they are still susceptible to various pests and diseases.

Among these pests that can feast on your cacti are Chelinidea vittiger or cactus coreid.

These are brown or black bugs with yellow veined wings and yellow stripes on their heads.

These bugs are thick, roughly 10 mm long, and have a teardrop shape.

The cactus bugs are similar to the well-known squash bugs. But the latter lacks the distinctive yellow pronotum, which is a stark indication of a cactus coreid.

If your houseplant has become a victim of this bug infestation, you can employ a few steps to save your cacti.  

Physically detaching the bugs, employing insecticides and other chemicals, and watching out for other pests can help bring your cactus back to life.

How Do I Know That My Cactus Has Bugs?

When these thick bugs have fed on your cacti, you will see yellow-green circular spots on the cactus pads.

When the infestation worsens, the spots come together to form larger spots and give your cactus an overall yellowish, lifeless, and pitted appearance.

How to Eliminate Cactus Coreid Bugs?

Exterminating these cactus bugs on your plants is easy if you promptly identify the pests and start treating the infestation immediately.

Three effective techniques guarantee the elimination of these pests from your beloved houseplant.

  1. Physical treatments
  2. Chemical formulations
  3. Biological preventions.

Early detection of cactus bugs must be followed by early infestation treatment.

The cactus bugs tend to crawl over your plant, drinking its sap with their sucking and piercing mouthparts.

Cactus bugs attack the flower buds and immature growth and older cactus parts. Do not ignore these bugs as soon as you spot them.

They will leave ugly blemishes on your plant and kill it in no time.

Physical Treatments

Natural treatment is the easiest and most effective solution to eliminate these bugs from your plant.

1. Use a Garden Hose

You need a garden hose to help you direct the stream of water towards the bugs to get them off the cactus pads.

  • Remove the cactus bugs before they are firmly attached to the arm of your cactus.
  • A stream of water easily removes the crawling bugs.
  • Set your garden hose to a gentle water velocity and monitor the stream’s pressure.
  • Direct the water towards the bugs to blast them off the leaf surface.
  • Make sure that the stream of water isn’t directed with too much pressure, or else it might break off a part of your cactus.
  • Cactus have many hidden areas, making it easier for these bugs to hide.
  • Spray off every part of the cactus for a few minutes until all the bugs fall off.
  • Repeat the same procedure for a few more days to remove any remaining pests.

2. Pluck Them off the Plant

Some cactus bugs that are too strongly attached to your plant will withstand the water pressure. For those, you will require manual removal.

  • Garden tweezers can help you remove individual bugs faster and easier.
  • The pests reside at the base of your cactus in huge amounts. This is the area where you must pay extra attention.
  • Pick the bugs and put them in a bag so that you can easily dispose of them far away from your cactus with no chance of recolonizing.
  • Alternatively, you can drop the bugs in a bucket of warm soapy water, killing them instantly.
  • Grab your garden tweezers and treat your plant early in the morning or at night to make the treatment easier for you.

Chemical Formulations

Physical treatments are effective in removing the majority of bugs from your cactus.

However, when the infestation has gotten out of hand, and the pests keep reappearing on the plant, it is time to take the help of suitable chemicals.

3. Soapy Water

The majority of cactus bugs are easily destroyed by warm soapy water.

  • Mix a little dish soap with water and pour it into a spray bottle.
  • Spray on areas where the cactus is highly affected by the pest’s infestation.
  • Spray this mixture on the cactus once a week or every 4 days until you can see improvement.
  • Ensure that you are using a natural dish soap and not a formula with harsh chemicals that can damage your plant.
  • It is essential to spray a small part of the plant with this mixture first and monitor the area for a day.
  • If there is no damage to the cactus pads, you can continue spraying the rest of the plant.

4. Treatment With Rubbing Alcohol

Before applying concentrated insecticides, it is better to use a natural solution to get rid of cactus coreid bugs.

  • If the bugs have infested parts of the plant, you can treat them with a cotton swab and a mixture of alcohol and water.
  • Mix 1 cup of rubbing alcohol with 4 cups of water and fill this solution in a spray bottle.
  • Test by spraying a leaf with the solution and then leaving it for a few days for signs of burn from the alcohol.
  • If you do not see any damage, continue spraying the affected parts of your plant.
  • Similarly, you can spot-treat visible cactus bugs by dipping a cotton swab in concentrated rubbing alcohol and applying directly to the pests.

5. Insecticidal Soap

Insecticidal soaps work best for aphids and beetles. You can check the product description of insecticidal soaps to see which one is designed for your specific cactus type.

  • Insecticidal soaps are gentle as compared to rubbing alcohol.
  • It will kill the cactus bug without damaging your plant.
  • Follow the directions on the label and apply the soap accordingly.
  • Repeat the treatment as necessary.

6. Use an Insecticide

Visit your local nursery and ask about the most effective insecticides relative to your cactus type.

  • Describe the extent of infestation on your plant or the life cycle in which the pests are.
  • Certain chemicals act at certain stages, so it is necessary to identify the problem before treating the cactus with an insecticide.
  • An all-natural insecticide is the safest option if you want to protect the beneficial bugs and don’t want unnecessary residues in the soil.

Biological Preventions

A cactus is a tough plant that can care for itself and fend off attacks from many pests and insects. However, your cacti need your help if it succumbs to cactus bugs.

7. Recommended Care and Growing Requirements

Cactus are low-maintenance plants, but raising them with care will develop them into stronger plants that can resist bugs and pest attacks.

  • Do not overwater your cactus.
  • Place your succulents in bright sunlight.
  • Treat the affected parts of your cactus as soon as you spot any pests and diseases.
  • Ensure correct fertilization, ventilation, and correct watering schedule for your cactus.

8. Check for Diseases in New Plants

Quarantine any new plants for a few weeks before introducing them to your cactus.

  • Leave the new plants in their pots and do not bring them near your cactus or plant them in nearby soil right away.
  • If you see signs of bug infestation after a few days, you can get rid of the new plant or return it to the nursery.
  • Do not allow the new plant foliage to touch your cacti because it is easier for bugs like cactus coreid to crawl from the new plant and hide in your old cactus.

Treating Other Pests on Your Succulents

Cactus bug infestation can make your cactus susceptible to other diseases because the bugs leave open wounds that attract fungi and insects.

The secondary fungus invasion causes the development of large black spots on the epidermis that results in the entire pad falling off.

Alternatively, other common pests can attack your cactus and require similar treatment to remove them.


Mealy bugs are white insects, fuzzy in appearance, and can lay their eggs in the soil.

  • To get rid of mealybugs on the cactus, spot treats the visible mealybugs infestation with 70% rubbing alcohol.
  • If the infestation is spread over the plant, pour the alcohol solution into a spray bottle and mist the whole plant every week for 2 to 3 weeks.

Spider Mites

The preferred growing environment of spider mites is similar to that of a cactus; hot and dry.

  • Spider mites infestation and their wispy webs are most prominent on the underside of leaves.
  • Apply isopropyl alcohol or diluted neem oil to the infested areas for a few weeks to get rid of the infestation.

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Getting rid of cactus pests is a tedious and tricky job. All kinds of plant pests can recolonize if you are not proactive in your approach to treating your plant.

A cactus is an easy plant to take care of, but if it is attacked by pests like cactus coreid bugs, mealybugs, or spider mites, you must be extremely careful. Do not let them feel at home, and immediately do whatever you must to kill the bugs as soon as you spot them.

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