The substance that appears to be cotton fibers is actually a fine wax made by adult cochineal scale insects, and the little black specks may be their nymphs. On cholla (Cylindropuntia spp.) and prickly pear (Opuntia spp.) cactus, it is typical in this region. The white beards that resemble those on other cacti, such as the Peruvian old man (Espostoa lanata) and Peruvian old woman (Espostoa melanostele), are not an insect byproduct but rather typical, healthy changed tissues. Landscape chollas and prickly pears have a white waxy coating produced by cochineal scale that helps shield these actual bugs from predators and insecticides.
I’ve seen prickly pear pads covered in that white fluff almost entirely. Mild infestations, like the ones Doa Ana County Extension Master Gardener Dael Goodman and I saw at in Las Cruces earlier new week, are more typical. In New Mexico, there are multiple native cholla and prickly pear species. There are numerous of them in the Goodmans’ front yard, and we immediately noted that some species were more affected by the cochineal scale than others.
Topical pesticides, especially natural ones like petroleum oils and insecticidal soaps, are unlikely to be effective no matter what time of year it is if the insects are shielded by a white covering. Also, keep in mind that the ultimate goal isn’t to completely eradicate cochineal scale from your garden—partially that’s impossible—but rather to control the populations of insect pests until beneficial insects come to the rescue.
You will be shocked to see a bright red liquid that seems to appear out of nowhere if you squeeze a glob of the white goo that has healthy females hidden inside. Carmine, a natural dye used for millennia to color textiles and create artwork, is produced inside the bodies of cochineal scale insects. Because this carmine component is also utilized in red foods and cosmetics like sausages, lipstick, pie fillings, and vividly colored alcoholic beverages, check product labels for it. Before the firm converted to an artificial dye in 2006, it was used to create the vibrant color of Campari liquor, but a new generation of craft distillers and other producers are increasingly adopting it as a substitute for synthetic red components.
Goodman and I attempted to film the flowing red fluids squeezing the white tufts on her prickly pear pads with a small stick, but we hardly noticed any redness. The female cochineal population may be declining at this time of year, or those specific tufts may be so old that the residents have long since disappeared and have only left that waxy material behind. We’ll give it another go with a fresher sample in the summer.
Six cholla species and seven prickly pear species are covered in Robert DeWitt Ivey’s stunning reference work Flowering Plants of New Mexico. There are five yellow-flowered prickly pears in that group. Identification might be aided by paying close attention to the pad sizes and spine specifics. If you intend to approach closely, make preparations and carry tongs.
At the Agricultural Science Center in Los Lunas, Marisa Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist for New Mexico State University.
Is there meant to be fur on my cactus?
Despite being generally robust plants, cactus can experience some problems. Your cactus plant may have white fuzz spots as a result of a bug infestation. Be sure to take quick action to prevent serious harm to the cactus.
How can white fluff on cacti be removed?
White fuzz on cactus can hinder their growth and lessen their visual attractiveness. What then creates the white fuzz on cacti, and how may mealybugs be removed from cactus plants?
Pour rubbing alcohol into a garden spray bottle after combining water and rubbing alcohol in a 1:3 ratio. To get rid of the bugs, spray all the cactus that are covered with white fuzz. You might also add ladybugs to your cactus to eat the mealybugs and get rid of the white fuzz on the plants.
I’ve used the Bazos ladybugs on my plants, and they work incredibly well at organically removing mealybugs and other damaging pests like aphids. You can use them if you don’t want to use pesticides on your indoor plants and outdoor gardens.
What on my cactus is that white cottony substance?
All of us enjoy the colors found in nature, especially at this time of year, but none are as brilliant as red.”
Red has always been a popular hue in societies because it is associated with risk and bravery, revolution and conflict, violence and sin, desire and passion. (1) When Spanish conquistadors discovered the Aztecs selling an exceptional red dye in the major markets of Mexico in 1519, no red dye was as vivid. They referred to it as cochineal or grana cochinilla.
“When Cortes arrived, he was astounded to see Montezuma and other lords wearing bright, vivid red robes. The fact that the hands and breasts of the native women were painted the same vibrant hue astounded him as well. He discovered bundles of dried cochineal brought to Montezuma in Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City), which were swiftly conveyed back to Spain. The dye was so much more vivid than the others and became very popular in Europe. By 1600, silver was the most expensive import from Mexico, followed by cochineal. (2)
The Opuntia engelmanii, or prickly pear cactus, is home to the scale insect known as cochineal. It eats the cactus’ delicious juices as a rasping, sucking insect. To ward off predators, it creates a cottony white covering. The insect is removed from the cactus, dried, and dehydrated before being exported all over the world to be used in a variety of ways. Cosmetics, food coloring, artist’s paint, and textile dyes (such as wool) all use dried cochineal. Today, it is frequently utilized as a red colour in dietary beverages. Cochineal’s most well-known application was to colour the jackets of the British troops “During the Revolutionary War, redcoats.
Live cochineal are displayed to children in the City of San Antonio Natural Areas Education Classes on the cactus, and dried cochineal is used to paint on rocks, paper, and wool fibers. While dried cochineal is still available today, synthetic colors with longer shelf lives have mostly taken its place.
The scientific study of the interactions between people and plants is known as ethnobotany. Cochineal is a fantastic technique to demonstrate to students how plants and insects were used by Native Americans and early settlers in Texas. They discover the history of this insect as well as its link to and relationship with nature. The pupils enjoy reading the ingredients list on their preferred red food product and seeing the name of cochineal extract (labeled as carminic acid) “use Sobe Life Water, a bug juice.
Why is the hair on my cactus growing?
Depending on their species and the environment in which they thrive, cacti plants have various looks. For instance, the Saguaro plant, which grows in arid regions, differs in appearance from cacti found in the rainforest, like the holiday cactus plant. Cephalocereus senilis, a kind of cacti that is covered in white hair, stands out among the other cacti species.
Why do some cacti plants have white hair? The “old man cactus” or Cephalocereus senilis is another name for the white-haired cactus. The shaggy coat of rather long white hairs on this cactus, which resembles the unruly hair of an elderly man, is its most remarkable feature. Young plants have an especially pronounced coat. The stem of the plant starts to shed its coat as it ages, and some of the hairs begin to dwindle. Therefore, if your cactus plant has white hairs on it, you may be growing the old man cactus.
How does the fungus on the cactus look?
Only the enormous variety of fungi can outcompete the great number of cacti species. Cactus pads frequently develop fungus spots, such as the Phyllosticta pad spot. Since treatments are typically the same, it is frequently irrelevant to identify the specific fungus that is causing the spots.
Once their visible harm is noticed, some fungal kinds attack the roots and finally the entire plant, therefore it is too late for the plant. Simple topical fungal spots are much easier to treat and, as long as the offending fungus is controlled, usually do not pose a threat to the cactus’ existence.
Cacti lesions can appear in a variety of ways. They could be square, oblong, angular, elevated, flat, or any other shape. Many are discolored, but once more, the hues might be anywhere from yellow to brown to completely black. Some are snarky, some are tearful. These may exude rust-colored, brown, or black fluid as a sign of a serious illness.
Opuntia and Agave cacti are the most frequently affected by fungal infections. Water spots or light discolorations on the plant’s epidermis are frequently the first signs of fungal diseases on cacti. As the fungus develop and spread over time, the symptoms may become more severe and may even eat into the cambium as a result of the surface skin breaches that allow the infection to enter.
Are fuzzy cactus painful?
Glochids on cacti are not a feature to be played for laughs. Glochids in the skin are upsetting, challenging to get rid of, and persistent. Describe glochids. They have little, hairy spines with barbs at the ends. Because of this, they are challenging to remove from the skin, and the discomfort lasts for days without relief. If you are handling any of the plants in the Opuntia family, it is advisable to wear gloves and long sleeves. If you don’t, you can have some excruciating burning and itching.
Glochids are found in tufts, frequently close to a major spine. They have backward-pulling barbs that are difficult to remove and are deciduous. Even the slightest contact can cause glochid spines to detach. It is nearly impossible to remove them because they are so small and delicate. Although they are hardly visible, glochids in the skin are definitely felt.
Glochids are intriguing since they develop to aid the plant in preserving moisture. In contrast to thorns, which are modified branches, they are actually modified leaves. These kinds of leaves shield the plant from evaporative water loss, which would otherwise be excessive. They are also a strong defensive tactic.
What causes cactus mealybugs to die?
When you detect mealy bugs on your succulents, the first thing you should do is quarantine the affected plants and relocate them away from other plants. Check the healthy plants for any indications of mealy bugs.
After that, be ready to clean your contaminated plants by removing them from the pot and giving them a thorough rinsing under running water. In hot, soapy water, wash the pot. Replant with fresh soil after allowing the plant and pot to dry out. Old dirt should be disposed of in the regular trash, not the green bin.
If you don’t instantly have ready-mix succulent soil at your home, you can put the soil in an oven-safe container covered with foil and bake it for at least 30 minutes, or until the soil reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit. After letting cool, plant again. Since there may still be mealy bug eggs in the old soil, we advise getting new soil.
Now let’s get to the most crucial step: mealybug elimination. Pesticides made of chemicals are generally the first thing that springs to mind. We don’t advise using them, though, as some of them can be highly damaging to succulents. Here are some secure choices we’ve tried and think are really helpful:
Neem oil and soap mixtures or rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) come first. The cheapest and most efficient approach for controlling aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites is to use 75 percent rubbing alcohol. Simply give the succulents a good spraying and leave them. The bug will start to turn brown, which indicates that it is dead. The plants won’t be harmed by the alcohol because it will entirely evaporate in a short period of time. Perform this each week until you no longer notice any bugs.
Another secure insecticide that can be applied directly to outbreaks is neem oil. It has the ability to instantly eliminate all stages of mealybugs. Neem oil at a concentration of 5% in water is combined with a few drops of soap before being sprayed all over your succulent. Keep in mind that using concentrated neem oil could burn your succulents.
If you don’t have a spray bottle, you might paint-brush any area where mealy bugs are present. After a few hours, water the plant to remove the dead insects. You can readily find rubbing alcohol and neem oil online or at your neighborhood pharmacy. To prevent water stains or sunburn when using neem oil or rubbing alcohol, be sure to keep the plant out of direct sunlight. For a few days, keep them away from the window and direct sunshine.
If there are still some mealy bugs on your plant, check it again and continue the procedure for a few days. Then, as a preventative step, spray once again after a week. Neem oil can also be sprayed into the soil to eliminate any bugs or eggs that may be lurking there. Put the plant back in its original location and continue inspecting every three weeks if mealy bugs don’t recur after thoroughly checking and spraying for a few weeks.
Neem oil and rubbing alcohol are relatively secure, but there is a danger they could harm your succulent.
So we advise utilizing ladybugs as another natural cure. Yes, you heard correctly! These adorable ladybugs are all-natural enemies of mealybug and other troublesome pests. However, we advise utilizing ladybugs only as a preventative measure and when your plant is in the early stages of infestation.