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My attempts to grow succulents continue to struggle - two from my wedding, which had been doing fairly well, appear to have developed, fairly swiftly, an infestation with some sort of mite:

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Any idea what these are, and if there's something I'm doing wrong that's "triggering" an infestation. I've been trying not to overwater, and all the plants are in pots suspended in another container to allow drainage.

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I'm not an expert on bugs but this reminds me of something I encountered. I see some potting mix on the sides of the container. Did you recently pot them or transplant them? What did you use? I had mail ordered a bag of organic potting mix that was infested with fungus gnats. From what I read this is not an uncommon thing to find.

Yours look very similar to the fungus gnat larvae I saw. Mine were mostly on the potting mix but a few did venture onto the grass I was growing in a container. I was recording a time lapse video at the time. You can check it out on my blog to see if they look the same at the following link:

http://diyorganiclawncare.blogspot.com/2012/07/growing-grass-indoors-bugsneem.html

I used neem oil, which in this instance acts much like the soap solution kevinsky proposed. It's something I usually have on hand for dealing with insects and plant disease.

The larval stage of a few bugs look like what's in your picture. It may be something else but I thought I'd throw this out there in case it helps.

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  • fungus gnats live in the soil and do not leave any husks or frass on the leaves. they do fly in your face and are incredibly irritating. I wonder if epigrad could tell us how this turned out. – kevinsky Jul 25 '13 at 22:35
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They are too small for mealybug so that leaves white fly who often leave small white husks as they moult into a larger nymph or adult. What is odd is that they are on a succulent. The thick waxy leaves make it hard going and they are more commonly seen on plants with thinner leaves like tomatoes.

Control is a small hand sprayer with a mixture of soap and water. Test one plant first to see if they are sensitive to soap. Dish soap is fine, no need to buy a commercial product.

Several sprayings at five to six day intervals to catch eggs that hatch are usually necessary.

Isolate infected plants from any others as white fly will fly to new hosts.

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Another important step in succulent cultivation is to top dress the soil with a good layer of sharp fine gravel ( I use fish store river gravel). This makes it harder for some pests to lay their eggs in the soil as well as keeping the leaves of the plant away from the post-watering wet soil thus reducing the risk of leaf rot or mold.

I also keep sundews near my succulents - while they don't 'eat' the smaller flying pests as they are too small to trigger the leaf curling (which requires that they stimulate multiple hairs) they do still get stuck to the individual hairs of the sundews and die. However, it is important to keep in mind that sundews can attract pests as well - I use them in a controlled environment where the pests are only ones that I've probably inadvertently introduced through the introduction of infested plants. In an less controlled environment like an open-door greenhouse or a home with unscreened windows you may end up recruiting more pests than you catch with carnivorous plants.

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