Succulent plants are a group of popular plants that can be grown and maintained as indoor houseplants and outdoors because they are beautiful, inexpensive, and easy to care for and maintain. These plants have thick, juicy stems and leaves native to Asia, Africa, and Madagascar, but do succulents attract flies?
A beautiful collection of healthy and happy succulents and cactus Photo Credit
Succulents store nutrients and water in their broad and fleshy leaves and stems, and they have these adaptations to cope with harsh, dry environmental conditions. Despite having these adaptations, succulents suffer from diseases, mite infestations, and insect pests like other plants.
The most common problems on indoor plants are fungus gnats, fruit flies, aphids, whiteflies, mealybugs, and scales.
Succulent attract fruit flies when they are poorly handled or managed; for example, overwatering and poor drainage attracts flies. Water attracts flies and provides them sites for breeding and thriving in soil. To avoid the infestations, provide your succulents with good growing conditions.
This write-up will highlight whether succulents attract flies and how we can eliminate them using home remedies and other chemicals.
Fungus Gnat Infestation on Succulent Plants
The warm and humid indoor environments attract the fungus gnats to indoor succulents. Fungus gnats infest the potted plants, potting mix, and decaying plant matter. These places act as a perfect breeding ground for fungus gnats.
Upon hatching, their larvae thrive on soil’s organic components and fungus and feed on plant roots, damaging the succulents.
Fungus gnats or sciarid flies on outdoor flowering plants Photo Credit
Overwatering and lots of organic matter in the potting mix provide the food and hiding places for fungus gnats. They infest these organically rich soils, feed on organic matter, and lay eggs. Their infestations deprive the succulents of the ability to absorb nutrients from the ground.
They (fungus gnat larvae) damage the plant roots and encourage infection of root rot pathogens.
Flies on Succulents
Flies on Hoodia gordonii Photo Credit
Like other bugs, flies find succulents as their favorite spots for feeding and breeding. They find overwatered and damaged succulents an excellent source of habitat. Their presence ruins the cosmetic value of succulents and interferes with their growth. To avoid the presence of these flies on your succulents, do not apply too much water and use well-draining soil as potting mix.
Essential Factors that Attract Flies
Succulents need healthy growing conditions to grow and reproduce successfully; slight changes in these factors lead to fly infestations. The following factors are responsible for flies on succulents:
These tropical plants need good drainage and a well-draining potting soil mix to thrive and survive. If the succulents are in poor drainage conditions, the chances of flies infestations are high. Even though they will reside, these plants lay eggs in flowers.
Fly infestations on Stapelia flower—a succulent plant from Africa Photo Credit
The image above is of a Stapelia flower with flies. Stapelia flowers are hairy and produce rotten flesh odor when mature. This awful flesh smell attracts flies, especially those drawn to putrid meat, and they lay eggs inside flower coronae.
To prevent the flies infestation, maintain good drainage of your succulents. Add moss and sand to ensure good air circulation and drainage when preparing the potting soil mix. Also, add a layer of grit at the bottom of the pot (have enough drainage holes) so that water moves through the soil and the excess moisture or water flows out the container.
Poor drainage in potted plants leads to waterlogged conditions (keep the soil moist for an extended time). These soggy soils combined with organic material provide flies with ideal conditions for egg laying.
Succulents do not need frequent watering because they store water in their thick, fleshy leaves and stems. Therefore, the continuous watering of succulents leads to suffocating conditions and a lack of oxygen, making plants weaker.
So, avoid overwatering your succulents to repel flies and provide them with good aeration.
Overfertilization of Succulents Attracts Flies
Overfertilization with organic manure attracts flies (these nuisance creatures gravitate toward smell) because it is an excellent source to feed and lay eggs.
Fungus in your Potting Mix Attracts Gnats and other Flies
Another reason gnats and blow flies fly around your succulents is moist soil contaminated with fungus. As the fungi multiply in the damp soil around the plant base, flies start buzzing around your succulent.
How to Get Rid of Flies on Succulents?
Flies prefer overwatered, unclean, and poor drainage conditions to infest succulents. By adopting hygienic conditions, the flies can be kept away from succulents.
Allow the Soil to Dry between Watering
Apply water to your succulents in moderation because these tropical plants do not need much water, except during the growing season (spring and summer). Also, allow the soil to dry between each watering to enable the ground to feel dry and proper air circulation. The best way to keep the flies away is to avoid overwatering and maintain good drainage.
Prune off the Infected Succulent Leaves
If overwatering is not a problem in your indoor succulent garden, the flies continue to come again and again. Then, cut away the damaged and weak leaves and twigs to disallow the flies’ infestation on your succulents. When there are no hiding spots and moisture to welcome the flies, they will not come back again.
Use Plant-based Chemicals to Deter Flies
The pungent smell of neem oil can repel flies Photo Credit
Neem oil applications prevent succulents from flies and other garden pests. Its spray, unlike harsh chemicals, acts as a strong repellant agent against flies. Always use half of neem oil dilutions for succulents; otherwise, it may burn their beautiful leaves.
Or you can use dish soap spray (mix one part of the dish soap per five parts of water) to repel flies and fungus gnats.
Repot the Succulents
Damp conditions around your succulents attract the flies and provide them with hiding places for multiplication while contaminating the soil. So, to avoid further damage from their infestations, repot the plant in a new pot with fresh potting mix. Ensure to avoid the overly wet soil conditions to prevent succulents from flies.
Use Cinnamon to Repel Flies
Cinnamon has fungicidal properties and helps control powdery and downy mildew fungal infections on indoor houseplants. Spread cinnamon powder over the top layer of soil to kill fungus and starve fungus gnat larvae to death. There will be no flies when there is a fungus in the ground and dampness.
Use Diatomaceous Earth to Kill Flies
It is an outstanding pest-controlling agent which punctures the insect body upon contact. Diatomaceous earth has sharp edges that rupture the flies’ bodies, thus killing them and preventing them from egg laying.
Why does my Jade Plant have Little Flies?
The flies around your jade plant are fungus gnats, and their presence signifies excess water. Adult flies do not cause any harm to houseplant succulents, except they use wet soil for breeding. The female fungus gnats lay eggs in the potting mix near the plant base, and their larvae wreak havoc by feeding on young roots. Maintaining plant hygiene is the best way to keep these pesky fungus gnat larvae away. Another way is to keep the soil dry between each watering and under heavy larvae infestations, apply apple cider vinegar by mixing one tablespoon per quart of water.
Are Flies Attracted to Cactus?
When your cactus is unclean and poorly managed, they are an easy target for pests and flies because the flies have their food source in dirty potted plants. Another reason would be using organic compost with too much animal manure. Animal manure provides the breeding and food source for flies.
How do I Get Rid of Little Flies in my Succulents?
Improper growth conditions such as constantly moist potting soil and poor drainage lead to gnat flies infestations. They not only infest the succulents but also feed on the nutrient sources of plants and attract root rot fungal and bacterial pathogens. The following are the best ways to get rid of these little flies:
- Use sterilized and dry soil while preparing the potting mix with equal amounts of perlite and peat moss.
- When repotting the succulents, use fresh soil for potting mix and plant pots with suitable drainage holes to drain excess moisture and water.
- Cover the top of the potting mix with sand, moss, or decorative rocks to preserve moisture for longer and block the breeding sites for adult flies.
- During a high population of gnats and flies, spray neem oil and insecticidal soap to kill the flies. Or Isolate the heavily affected plants from the healthy ones.
- Use insecticides and pesticides as your last resort.
Do Indoor Plants Attract Spiders?
Yes, indoor plants attract spiders, flies, and other bugs. They provide these bugs and spiders a hiding place to live and breed and other insects as food.
Do Succulents Bring Fruit Flies?
Succulents attract fruit flies when they are poorly maintained, such as no pruning and maintenance, poor air circulation, and moist soil. All these factors provide the fruit flies with safe places to land on succulents and breed.
Can I Spray Rubbing Alcohol on my Succulents to Repel Flies?
Rubbing alcohol in dilutions is safe for plants and assists in eliminating the nastiest bugs such as scale insects and mealybugs.
What are the Tiny Black Bugs on my Succulents?
These tiny black bugs are fungus gnats (also known as sciarid flies or soil midges) that dwell and feed on soil organic matter and lay eggs. While the fungus gnat fly larvae invade and feed on the roots. Overwatering and poor ventilation attract flies to succulents.