How to Get Rid of Cactus Bugs: 5 Best Ways to Treat

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Cactus bugs are small, often yellow or red insects that feed on cacti. These pests rarely cause significant damage to healthy cacti, but they can wreak havoc if left unchecked. Cactus bugs often attack ornamental cacti in greenhouses and outdoor gardens, but they may also infest indoor houseplants. 

There are many steps involved in getting rid of cactus bugs—from picking the right bug spray to knowing when and how to apply it. While all these tasks might seem complicated, this article will outline everything you need to know to get rid of the cactus bug easily!

How to Get Rid of Cactus Bugs

Common cactus bugs

There are so many cactus bugs that cause damage to your plant, but these are the most common cactus bugs: Mealybugs, Wooly aphids, Red spider mites, Scales, Longhorn beetles, Various cactus ants, Slugs and snails, Fungus gnats, Thrips, Sciarid flies, Various cactus moths and caterpillars, Eel worms, Vine weevils, White flies, Greenflies, Leafcutter bees.

Get Rid of Cactus Bugs – 5 Ways to Prevent and Treat an Infestation

Steps to Get Rid of Cactus Bugs

Cactus bug damage often appears as sunken spots with brown edges and corky centers. To prevent an infestation, keep your plants healthy by providing them with plenty of light, humidity, and room temperature between 65 °F and 75 °F. To treat an infestation, follow these five tips for preventing cactus bug attacks and more effective bug control.

Change Your Cactus’ Environment

Young plant

If you notice cactus bug eggs on your cacti, remove the eggs to prevent the bugs from hatching. If you notice adult cactus bugs on your cacti, try changing your cactus’ environment to make it less appealing to pests. Place your cactus plants in a more humid environment.

Since cactus bugs thrive in dry environments, adding more humidity to your cacti’s environment makes it less appealing to the cactus bugs. You can increase humidity around your cacti by placing them near a water source, like near a water feature or next to a humidifier.

You can also mist your cacti with water once a week. Avoid watering your cacti during the hot afternoon hours, as this may increase the risk of root rot.

Re-Pot Your Cactus

Repot Your Cactus

Cactus bugs feed on the cactus’ roots. By repotting your cactus, you can effectively treat an infestation by removing the pests’ source of food. You can treat an attack on your cactus by repotting it during the early spring or late fall when outside temperatures are mild.
When repotting your cactus, you’ll want to remove the cactus bug eggs and cactus bugs from the roots. However, do not damage the cactus roots while removing the pests.
You can also try placing your cactus in a greenhouse or indoors if you live in a cooler climate and the cactus bugs are prevalent outdoors.

Use Neem Oil

Neem oil is a natural insecticide that effectively kills cactus bugs. Apply neem oil to your cacti once a week for two weeks to effectively treat your cacti. Avoid applying neem oil when temperatures are above 85 °F to prevent the oil from burning your cacti.
While neem oil effectively kills cactus bugs, it may also cause damage to beneficial insects like bees. If you have many cacti growing in your garden, it may be best to treat each cactus with neem oil.
However, if you have only a few cacti, you can also apply neem oil to your garden soil to prevent cactus bugs from attacking your cacti.

Treat with Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is a natural pesticide that kills cactus bugs by dehydrating pests. You can apply diatomaceous earth to the cactus soil or the cactus’ leaves to effectively treat an infestation.
Avoid applying diatomaceous earth to the cactus flowers, as it may damage the plant. Diatomaceous earth is effective at killing cactus bugs because the pests ingest the powder, and it cuts their insides.
You can apply diatomaceous earth to your garden soil to prevent cactus bugs from attacking your cacti. Diatomaceous earth is safe for people and pets, but it is harmful to insects.

Try Pesticides

pesticide sprayer

If cactus bugs have severely damaged your cacti, you can try using a chemical pesticide. When using a chemical pesticide, always follow the product’s instructions precisely to avoid harming your cacti or yourself.
You can use a chemical pesticide like carbaryl, endosulfan, or malathion to effectively kill cactus bugs and prevent future attacks. You can also use neem oil, which is a natural insecticide that effectively kills cactus bugs, which we discussed above.
Be sure to carefully read all product labels and select the product that is right for your cacti.

Our Top Pick

Pure Neem Oil

Used on any plant to produce clean and shiny leaves.
Natural shine on leaves without clogging the stomata.
Cold pressed from the seeds of the neem tree.

How to keep bugs away from your cactus

There are several things you can do to prevent cactus bugs.

  • To prevent cactus bugs from attacking your cacti, keep your plants clean and healthy.
  • Remove any old or decaying leaves to eliminate possible hiding spots for cactus bugs.
  • Do not overwater your cacti. Overwatering may cause root rot, which attracts cactus bugs.
  • When cleaning your cactus plants, carefully remove any insects, eggs, or cactus spines from the leaves.
  • Inspect new cactus plants for signs of cactus bugs before planting them in your garden.
  • When handling your cactus plants, wear gloves to avoid transferring any insects from one plant to another.
  • You can also try companion planting to attract beneficial insects that may keep cactus bugs away.

Check out an article on How to Get Rid of Flies in the House & make your garden flies-free.


Cactus bugs are pests that feed on cacti, agave, and yucca plants. These insects may also feed on other types of succulents, but they prefer cactus plants. The two most common cactus pests are the prickly pear cactus bug and the red cactus bug. Cactus bugs often attack ornamental cacti in greenhouses and outdoor gardens, but they may also infest indoor houseplants.

To prevent an infestation, keep your plants clean and healthy. You can also change your cactus’ environment to make it less appealing to pests. You can also repot your cactus, treat your cacti with diatomaceous earth, or use chemicals like carbaryl, endosulfan, or malathion to treat an infestation. We hope you got the information on how to get rid of cactus bugs & now follow any method to make your plant bugs-free.


  • Do cactus bugs bite humans?

    They are not dangerous to humans. They also cause little damage to your garden until the population becomes too large. However, in persons who are sensitive to them, coming into contact with them might cause skin irritation, redness, and itching.

  • Do cacti attract bugs?

    Cacti in the terrain also attract a slew of hungry bugs, who have no idea they’re destroying your meticulously designed desert garden. Fortunately, once you’ve found the perpetrator, most cactus bugs are straightforward to control.

  • Do Christmas cactus attract bugs?

    Although the microscopic bugs on Christmas cactus are small, they can be identified by the protective cottony masses that form at the joints of leaves and stems, or on the undersides of leaves. The bugs that feed on the sap from the leaves expand in size as they mature.