How to get rid of black aphids on succulents?

by Jennifer

Succulents, with their unique and striking appearance, are prized by gardeners and plant enthusiasts alike. However, the presence of black aphids can threaten the health and aesthetics of these resilient plants. Black aphids, also known as blackfly or black bean aphids, are tiny insects that feed on the sap of succulents, causing damage to leaves and impeding overall growth. In this comprehensive guide, we explore effective strategies for getting rid of black aphids on succulents, ensuring your prized plants remain vibrant and healthy.


Understanding Black Aphids and Their Impact on Succulents

Black aphids (Aphis fabae) are small, soft-bodied insects that belong to the aphid family. They are typically dark brown or black in color and feed on the sap of plants by using their specialized mouthparts to pierce plant tissues. While aphids can infest a wide range of plants, succulents are not immune to their presence.

Black aphids extract nutrients from succulent plants, causing visible damage such as yellowing, distortion, and wilting of leaves. Additionally, aphids secrete a sticky substance known as honeydew, which can attract the growth of sooty mold. The combination of direct feeding damage and the secondary effects of honeydew and sooty mold can weaken succulents and compromise their overall well-being.

1. Inspection and Identification

The first step in addressing a black aphid infestation on succulents is thorough inspection and accurate identification. Regularly check the undersides of leaves, along stems, and in the crevices of your succulents for signs of aphid activity. Black aphids are often found in colonies, and their dark coloration can make them stand out against the greenery of succulent plants.

Identification of black aphids also involves distinguishing them from other common pests. Aphids have a pear-shaped body, long antennae, and two tubelike structures called cornicles on their hind end. Confirming the presence of black aphids ensures that you can tailor your control methods specifically to address this pest.

See Also: How often should you feed succulents?

2. Natural Predators and Beneficial Insects

Harnessing the power of natural predators and beneficial insects is an environmentally friendly and effective way to control black aphids on succulents. Ladybugs, lacewings, and hoverflies are natural predators that feed on aphids, helping to keep their populations in check.

Encourage the presence of these beneficial insects in your garden by planting a variety of flowers and herbs that attract them. Ladybugs, in particular, are voracious aphid predators and can be released onto your succulents as a natural form of biological control. Avoid using broad-spectrum insecticides that can harm both harmful and beneficial insects, disrupting the natural balance in your garden.

3. Neem Oil as a Natural Repellent

Neem oil, derived from the neem tree, is a natural and effective repellent against black aphids on succulents. Neem oil disrupts the feeding and reproductive cycles of aphids, reducing their numbers over time. Additionally, neem oil has antifungal properties, helping to prevent the development of sooty mold associated with aphid infestations.

To use neem oil on succulents, mix a diluted solution according to the manufacturer’s instructions and spray it on the affected plants, ensuring thorough coverage. Repeat the application every 7-14 days as needed. Neem oil is safe for most succulents but, as with any treatment, it’s advisable to test a small area before widespread application.

4. Homemade Insecticidal Soap

Insecticidal soap is a common and effective solution for controlling aphids on succulents. This soap disrupts the protective waxy coating on aphids, leading to dehydration and eventual elimination. While commercial insecticidal soaps are readily available, you can also create a homemade version using simple ingredients.

To make homemade insecticidal soap, mix a solution of mild liquid soap (such as Castile soap or dish soap) with water. Use around 1-2 teaspoons of soap per quart of water, ensuring that the solution is well-mixed. Spray the soapy solution directly onto the black aphids on your succulents, targeting both the insects and their eggs.

It’s important to note that while insecticidal soap is generally safe for succulents, some delicate or sensitive species may be more susceptible to soap damage. Always test the solution on a small portion of your succulent before applying it more broadly.

5. Horticultural Oils for Smothering Aphids

Horticultural oils, such as neem oil or mineral oil, can be used to smother and control black aphids on succulents. These oils create a physical barrier that suffocates aphids and disrupts their feeding activities. Horticultural oils are particularly effective against aphids that are present on the surface of succulent leaves and stems.

To use horticultural oil, mix it with water according to the product’s instructions and spray the solution onto the affected succulents. Ensure that the entire plant surface is covered, paying attention to the undersides of leaves where aphids often congregate. Repeat applications may be necessary, especially for severe infestations.

6. Water Spray and Pruning

A simple yet effective method for getting rid of black aphids on succulents involves using a strong jet of water to dislodge the insects. Spray your succulents with a forceful stream of water, focusing on the affected areas where aphids are present. This action not only physically removes aphids but also washes away honeydew and sooty mold.

After using the water spray method, inspect your succulents regularly and repeat the process as needed. Additionally, consider pruning and removing heavily infested or damaged parts of the succulents to enhance their overall health and reduce the presence of aphids.

7. DIY Garlic Spray as a Repellent

Garlic is known for its insect-repelling properties, and a homemade garlic spray can be an effective deterrent for black aphids on succulents. To make a garlic spray, crush a few garlic cloves and steep them in hot water. Once the mixture has cooled, strain out the garlic pieces and transfer the liquid to a spray bottle.

Spray the garlic solution directly onto the affected succulents, making sure to cover both sides of the leaves. The strong scent of garlic acts as a natural repellent, discouraging aphids from feeding on the plants. Repeat the application every 7-10 days or as needed.

8. Beneficial Nematodes for Soil Treatment

Beneficial nematodes are microscopic organisms that can be applied to the soil to control various soil-dwelling pests, including aphids. These nematodes, specifically Steinernema feltiae, seek out and infect aphid larvae in the soil, interrupting their life cycle.

To use beneficial nematodes, follow the instructions provided with the product, which typically involves mixing them with water and applying the solution to the soil around your succulents. This method is particularly useful for addressing aphids that may be present in the soil, contributing to infestations on the plants.


Successfully eliminating black aphids on succulents requires a multi-faceted approach that combines inspection, identification, and the strategic application of natural and homemade remedies. By incorporating these effective strategies, you can protect your succulents from the damaging effects of black aphid infestations and promote their overall health and vitality. Regular monitoring and preventive measures will help ensure that your succulents thrive and remain a stunning addition to your garden or indoor plant collection.


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