Christmas Cactus Pests
The Christmas cactus is a special decoration for homes during the holidays. When this plant blooms for the holiday season, it produces a range of colors including white, pink, yellow, violet and orange-red. Similar to other flowering plants, this cactus is often infested by insects. These insects are usually difficult to control, so it’s always advised to inspect the new plants thoroughly before putting them indoors. The information below will help you to understand more about Christmas cactus pests.
First of all, you should look beneath the leaves of the cactus plant when checking for pests. Some of the well-known pests which feed on this plant are the scale insects and mealybugs. In addition to these pets, this plant is also prone to diseases or viruses which usually cause line patterns or purple ring spots to appear on the leaves. These diseases and pests will not only affect your Christmas cactus, but can also spread to other plants in the surrounding.
Tips on how to get rid of Christmas cactus pests
If your plants are infested with mealybugs, you need to move them to an isolated area until they are free of the insects. To remove the insects, you can use a cue tip with alcohol to wipe the leaves or use mild soapy water to wash the plant. If the infestation is severe, it’s best to dispose of the plant.
Note that you would also isolate the plants if you notice that they have scale insects. It’s best to try and get rid of as many insects as you possibly can. Dip a soft cloth in some soapy water and use it to clean the plants. After that, you can use some horticultural oil or insecticidal soap spray to treat the plant. Next, place the plant in a shady location and then repeat the treatment if necessary to control the infestation.
Now, let’s take a look at the different types of Christmas cactus pests.
1. Scale Insects: These insects resemble hard raised bumps and usually have tan or dark brown colors. You can spot the scale insects easily because they hardly moves and might appear like growths on the cactus plant. They will feed on the plant by sucking the sap from sections of the cactus foliage.
2. Root Mealybugs: To know if your cactus plant is infested, you can check the soil for masses of fuzzy white mealybugs. Quite often, the plant will die before the infestation is discovered because it’s very difficult to see these insects. Even the symptoms, which are reduced plant vigor and yellowing foliage, are hard to identify because they are similar to many other problems. Since its challenging to control these insects, the best recommendation is to destroy the infested plants.
In addition to those pests, fungus gnats can also infest the Christmas cactus. These pests are tiny black flies which live in the potting soil and normally feed on the cactus leaves. Their larvae resemble tiny black worms and they usually feed on the roots, which causes the plants to become weak and susceptible to other insects and diseases. There are additional resources available if you want to know more about the Christmas cactus pests.