Do Indoor Succulents Get Bugs? EVERYTHING You Need To Know

One of the appeals of succulents, especially as indoor plants, is that they’re extremely hardy and don’t need a lot of care or attention. In fact you can leave them for weeks (or even months) without giving them a second thought but one thing people often ask is do they get bugs? Any internet search will bring up a list of articles about outdoor bugs but very little about indoor bugs so I decided to address this, hence me writing this article.

Do indoor succulents get bugs? All plants, whether they are houseplants or outdoor ones, can have the odd bug but full-on infestations are rare with indoor succulents. That said though there are a few bugs such as mealybugs, spider mites, and fungus gnats, that indoor succulents can be susceptible to getting.

Do indoor succulents get bugs?

As with all plants, succulents can suffer from common problems such as fungal disease or bacterial issues (typically caused by overwatering) but they can also sadly suffer from infestations of bugs and insects. Thankfully though these aren’t common but they do happen.

While it may not be a common issue, the high water content of succulents means that they are an attractive option for many bugs who are able to get food (or water) from the plant itself and find shelter under the leaves. The most common bugs that succulents can suffer from are mealybugs, root mealybugs, and scale. To a lesser degree, they can also be troubled by spider mites and fungus gnats.

How do I know if my indoor succulent has bugs?

As a very general rule, premature leafing dropping, discoloration of leaves, and stunted growth are all signs of a bug infestation in succulents. That said though, each type of bug is different and will attack the plant in a different way but if you know what to look out for they can be easy (or at least easier) to spot.


Normally the first sign of a mealybug infestation is the appearance of black mold on or near the plant as well as a sticky texture. If you suspect your succulent might be being attacked by mealybugs (and you do have moldy specks on it) then carefully examine it for small (approx. 1/5 to 1/3 inch) white cotton-like bugs to confirm if this is the case. They’re slow-moving and typically live underneath the leaves (along the spines and veins) as well as close to the stem.

If your plant has been attacked by mealybugs for a while then you will probably notice that the leaves are starting to shrivel up and lose their water content too. This is because mealybugs like to drink the juice out of the plant and generally start with the juicier leaves. 

Mealybugs can spread like the plague

Root mealybug

Just like mealybugs, root mealybugs like to suck the life out of your succulent which will cause the leaves to wrinkle up and fall off at an alarming rate. They tend to live in the soil and around the roots so can be harder to see but like mealybugs, they’re small in size and look like little white deposits.

Living in the soil and attacking the plant’s roots means that they can open the succulent up to rot, this is because they damage the roots which allows bacteria in and can provide the ideal conditions for fungal infection to thrive.

It can be difficult to see root mealybugs because they live in the soil


Scale insects might be small but their dark color often makes them stand out against the bright green of your succulent’s leaves. They attach themselves to the stem and leaves of the plant and have a small cotton-like dome shell that can appear to be stuck on the leaf itself.

Like both mealybugs and root mealybugs, they will drink your succulent dry, causing the leaves to shrivel up and ultimately, in extreme cases, killing the plant.

Scale insects can look like brown lumps under the leaves

Spider mite

Spider mites are the smallest of all bugs (being just 1/50 inch) which can make them difficult to spot but luckily there are tell-tale signs to look out for. For example, small brown dots and a web-like appearance to the plant can often be a clue to a spider mite problem, as can a dust-like covering on the leaves.

Normally (but not exclusively) attacking younger growth, they like to suck the juices out of the plant by weakening the epidermis. Unfortunately though this can leave the plant open to further infection.

Spider mites look like dust on the underside of the leaves

Fungus gnat

Sometimes known as fruit flies, fungus gnats are similar in appearance to mosquitoes and can often be seen hovering around the plant and above the soil. Luckily adult fungus gnats (which are around 1/6 to 1/8 inch in size) won’t harm your plant but their larva definitely will do.

Like a lot of other larva-laying bugs, once the adult fungus gnats have laid their eggs (which they normally do in damp soil) they leave them to fend for themselves which is where the problem lies. In order to grow, the larva will eat the leaves and any organic matter, damaging the plant in the process.

Large succulents are often unaffected but seedlings and smaller plants can be stunted and, in extreme cases, can even die.

Adult fungus gnats don't harm the plants but their larva can

How do I get rid of bugs on my indoor succulent?

It can be difficult to deal with bugs because they’re small and tend to hide under the leaves and close to the stem (or even in the roots) but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. As a general guide to dealing with any bug infestation, the best thing to do is quarantine the plant, rinse with strong water, spray with alcohol, clean the pot, replant, respray, keep out of sunlight for a few hours then spray again in a week.

While that may be a good general guide let’s look at each step in more detail.


Once you’ve discovered that one or more of your plants have bugs you should move them to a room well away from any other plants (regardless of whether they’re succulents or not). Some bugs, especially mealybugs can spread like the plague, rapidly spreading from plant to plant so quarantining them immediately will stop this from happening.


If your plant has mealybugs, spider mites, or scale insects you can get rid of a lot of them by washing them off with a strong stream of tepid water. Just make sure you cover the soil to stop it from getting too wet and to prevent it from being washed away.

For root mealybugs and fungus gnat larvae, you can wash the roots instead of the leaves of the plant before you repot it. 


Some people like to use q-tips soaked in rubbing alcohol but I find spraying the alcohol instead because it gets into areas you can’t reach and will kill the bugs pretty quickly. Unlike insecticides, the alcohol won’t damage the plants either, unless you put it in direct sunlight before the alcohol evaporates.

Most bugs will simply fall off when they die but with scale insects, you’ll need to scrape them off after. You can easily you a stiff, flat surface (such as an old loyalty card) to do this but it’s important to make sure you sterilize any tools used after to prevent further infestations.

Spraying plants with rubbing alcohol will get rid of most bugs

Clean the pot

There’s no point getting rid of all of the bugs from the plant if you’re only going to put it back in the same pot as before, this is even more important for root mealybugs and fungus gnat larva. I like to clean the pot thoroughly with soapy water then, once it’s dry spray it with rubbing alcohol before allowing it to dry again.


Just like putting the plant back in a contaminated pot, there’s no point in putting it back in the same soil as before either. You can ‘bake’ the soil for around 30 minutes in the oven before allowing it to cool and then reuse it but I personally prefer to throw the old soil away and repot the plant with brand new potting soil.


This is optional but I like to respray my succulents again after I’ve repotted them. I think that it gets rid of any bugs I might’ve missed and gives the plant a far better chance.

Keep out of sunlight

You might have successfully eradicated all traces of bugs from your succulents but putting them in direct sunlight while they still have a trace of alcohol on their leaves could be disastrous. While the alcohol will evaporate pretty quickly it can still burn the leaves if the light is too intense.

To be safe don’t put your plant in sunlight for at least 12 hours after spraying it. I know that might sound like a long period of time but I’m a cautious person so like to be safe!

Spray again in a week

Even if you haven’t seen any other signs of bugs it’s better to give them one last dose of rubbing alcohol. It won’t do them any harm at all but will make sure everything has been well and truly killed.

How do I stop my indoor succulent from getting bugs?

As with pretty much everything else in life prevention is far better than cure but you can’t stop bugs 100% of the time, although there are things you can do to reduce the risks.

New succulents

If you’ve just bought a new succulent or are thinking about bringing one in from outside make sure you quarantine it for a while (around 2 to 3 weeks) before introducing it to the rest of your plants. I know that might sound silly but if your new plant does have a problem with bugs, by quarantining it you’re preventing them from spreading to your other plants.

After a few weeks check the plant thoroughly for bugs and when you’re happy they’re bug-free, and only then you can introduce them to the rest of your plants. If you’re not sure (or if you find they still have bugs) quarantine them for another couple of weeks.

Existing succulents

Regularly checking your plants for any sign of bug damage won’t stop the problem but it will help you to deal with it before it really becomes an issue. If you do find any bugs then follow the steps above to get rid of them completely.

To make sure all of your succulents are healthy and stay that way don’t overwater them. I know that you’re probably sick of hearing that now but it’s the number one cause for almost every succulent problem and a bug infestation is no different.

If you find that you’re getting fungus gnats around your succulent then you can get rid of the adult flies by either using yellow sticky traps (which can look a bit unsightly) or by making your own trap instead. To make your own trap put a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and a couple of drops of dish soap in a cup and put Saran Wrap over the top. Putting a few small holes in the wrap will allow the flies to get in but will also make it hard for them to get out.

Related question

Can I use ladybugs to get rid of bugs on my indoor succulents?

A popular and natural option for getting rid of many bugs on succulents is to introduce ladybugs to the plants but sadly this won’t work with indoor plants. Ladybugs aren’t designed to live indoors and will struggle if you bring them inside. Rather than ridding your plant of bugs, they’ll be more likely to try and get out and will therefore often die on the window sill.

I hope you found this article helpful. If you did I’d be grateful if you could share it please as it would really help me.

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