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I've had this opuntia since may this year and it was growing fine, it had grown three new little opuntia and suddenly it started having this white rod like things, at first I cleaned them up but a friend told me they where “normal” so I left them there, now I regret it because I should've dig more into it, anyway now is turning yellow from the base too and I already separated one piece in another pot, but the remaining (picture) ones are getting worse and I don’t know what to do, do I clean it up, do I try and save the still green areas into another pots? Please if you can help I would appreciate it a lot, thank you!

1 Answer 1


It is infested with something, but I'm not 100% sure what. There is evidence of cochineal scale on the top pad, where the white fluffy stuff is, but I'm not sure what the small white 'rod like' things are. If they fly, they could be whitefly, but they look more like little larvae; there are even some on the edge of the pot, so its a heavy infestation. I'm not entirely sure I don't see some in the top layer of whatever it is on top of the soil in the pot too - if its some kind of mulch, remove it. It's also not clear whether the discoloration of the plant at the base is due to insect activity or to some other problem in the soil (overwatering or similar).

I'd suggest you treat the scale aggressively; spray off what you can using a spray bottle, then use a mix of insecticidal soap, insecticide and dish soap mixed in water, as mentioned in this link https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/cacti-succulents/scgen/cochineal-scale-on-cactus.htm. This same treatment hopefully will also clear the other infestation. You may need to repeat the treatment, then wait and see if the plant recovers.

  • Thanks I'll do that and report back, do I need to remove it from the pot? Put it in a new one perhaps? Oct 4, 2019 at 20:14
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    Difficult to say - remove the mulch, and check for those white larvae within it - if the soil underneath is wet, then you know you've over watered. Otherwise, its in a bit of a fragile state and might not hold together enough to be repotted.
    – Bamboo
    Oct 4, 2019 at 20:26
  • Ok, I checked and the white rods are dry, they are literally as little spikes or something, or some kind of white dirt stuck on the surface of the opuntia, I scraped some and they come out easy, nothing happens igf I squeeze them, there doesn’t seem to be any kind of insect so far, nothing moves or flies, theres a little humidity down the soil but nothing quite wet, I am confused now Oct 5, 2019 at 1:35
  • You should still treat for cochineal scale - there are some visible at the top of the top leaf... spray the whole plant when you do it.
    – Bamboo
    Oct 5, 2019 at 9:25
  • With Opuntia, you can usually break off a pad, stick it in some poor, deserty, soil, water occasionally, and it will root. Dump the mulch. these plants do not like continuous moisture. Both bottom pads appear to be dying, quite possibly due to over watering. Oct 6, 2019 at 16:34

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