Bugs are irresistibly drawn to succulent plants, often leaving the plant enthusiast no other choice but to take serious measures to protect his collection. Succulent plants, such as hyacinths and agave, have swollen roots, stems or leaves as an adaptation to dry habitats. Whether you have a few plants or a large collection of succulents, they are vulnerable to bugs such as aphids, mealy bugs, whitefly and scale; it is typically harder to keep very large plants free of bugs. You can rid your succulents of bugs by using either chemical or natural control measures.
Quarantine all newly acquired succulents before introducing them to your collection. Place these new plants in a separate room for several weeks and check them carefully for bugs during this time. Insect eggs previously laid on the plants will hatch, and you can physically remove the pests or treat the plant with insecticide before the bugs can gain access to the rest of your succulents.
Spray your new succulents with a systemic insecticide while they are still in the quarantine room. The succulents will absorb systemic insecticides, making them poisonous to the pests that feed on them. Treat the plants again with systemic insecticide when you re-pot them.
Re-pot the succulents using sterilized compost. Insects, their eggs and their larvae are killed during the heat treatment process used to sterilize the compost, so you don't have to worry about introducing bugs to your plants through the potting soil.
Inspect each plant regularly with a high-quality magnifying glass once you have moved them to your main growing or display area. If you discover pests such as mealy bugs on one succulent plant, you can expect that they have spread to most plants in the immediate vicinity. Remove and kill these bugs manually, if possible. Dip a cotton swab in alcohol and use it to wipe the insects off the plant. The alcohol should kill the bugs instantly.
Spray succulents with a jet of water from a seedling nozzle or spray nozzle to knock aphids off the plants and to damage their mouth parts if they attempt to climb back onto the succulents.
Spray the succulents with cooking oil as an alternative to chemical insecticides. The cooking oil will prevent the bugs from feeding or laying their eggs on the plants. Place ladybirds on the succulents as an alternative to using cooking oil. These beneficial insects are a means of natural insect control and will feed on the bugs that are infesting your succulents.
Remove dead and dying leaves, particularly those that are lying on the soil, since these leaves are an ideal breeding ground for insect pests. Use a strong disinfectant to wash down surfaces on which the succulent pots are standing as well as nearby pathways. The disinfectant will kill any insect eggs or larvae that are in the immediate vicinity of the succulent plants and reduce the risk of fresh infestations.