The prickly pear is a cactus that you might think of as being very, very hardy. In fact, it is considered invasive as it spreads quickly both from seeds and, above all, from cuttings. When a ‘leaf’ breaks off and falls to the ground, it doesn’t take many days for it to produce its own roots. But since it has edible fruits, the so-called prickly pears, it is a plant that can be grown in orchards and gardens.
The problem is that, yes, it has a great capacity to adapt to different environments, but it is very vulnerable to attack by a particular pest. This is not that it is capable of ending its life, unless the cactus is very young or already weak, but it is one that must be watched. So if you want to know what is prickly pear diseaseThen I’m going to tell you about her.
What is prickly pear disease called?
It is difficult for prickly pears to get sick, but as we said, there is a plague that affects them and that can be serious: his name is cochineal. There are many types of mealybugs, and there are two that harm these cacti: Opuntia Dactylopius y Dactylopius cuckoo.
Although these were already in Spain for a few decades, it was not until the first fortnight of the 2000s that they began to cause serious problems to the different populations of prickly pears found throughout the country, especially those in the Mediterranean region.
What are the symptoms and damage it causes?
It is important to recognize the symptoms so that it is easy for us to identify the pest. Thus, of these cochineals you have to take into account the following:
- They look like cotton, and they are also very fragile.
- They stick to the leaves, and feed on their sap.
- As a consequence, the cactus weakens.
- In very severe cases, it can lead to death.
Which is the treatment?
There are several ways to remove mealybugs from prickly pears. But before telling you what they are, let me tell you something that is very important: this is a pest that can be difficult to eliminate; that is, it is normal that several treatments have to be carried out before ending the problem. Now, it’s not impossible either.
Here are several remedies against mealybugs of these cacti:
Kill them with beer
If your prickly pear is young and therefore small, I recommend that you treat it with this liquid. For it, you have to soak a brush (the kind used to paint walls) in beer, and then apply it to the plant.
It is extremely important that it be done this way, since in the event that, for example, cotton is used, there would be a risk of ending up with a few thorns stuck in the hand.
Clean the cactus with dish soap
Be it Fairy or another. You only have to dilute 2-3ml of dishwashing soap in 5 liters of water. Stir well, so that it is completely mixed, and then apply it to the prickly pear using a sprayer or sprayer.
Of course, think that you have to do this when it is not in direct sunlight, otherwise it will burn, and therefore, it will have a bad time.
Treat it with diatomaceous earth
Diatomaceous earth is a very effective natural insecticide against many pests, such as mealybugs, aphids or spider mites. It is quite reminiscent of flour, but it is lighter. Leaves no residue and is non-toxic (although from my own experience I recommend wearing rubber gloves before touching it, since if you have any wound, no matter how small, you may feel itching or irritation when in contact with the product).
The way of use is simple: when it is no longer exposed to sunlight, pour water over it, then take some diatomaceous earth and pour it over the cactus. You will see that after a few days the plague will disappear. buy it here!.
Apply an anti-cochineal insecticide
Sometimes, if the plague is very advanced, it is best to treat the cactus with a specific insecticide for mealybugs. However, it is advisable that it be a sprayAs this, since it is much easier to apply, and also safer.
Likewise, you must follow the instructions for use, which are on the same product packaging. In this way we will achieve good results.
Can prickly pears be prevented from getting cochineal?
Mealybugs are pests that are very favored by heat and drought. Therefore, it is common to see them during the summer. Now, it is difficult to prevent the prickly pear from ending this pest, but it is not impossible. It’s more, if we keep it well cared for; that is, if we try to water it from time to time and fertilize it when it touches, we will ensure that it is healthy.
Also, if we carry out preventive treatments with, for example, diatomaceous earth, we will make it grow much better, without having to worry about this pest.
As you can see, the prickly pear disease is one that, although it is not usually fatal, can greatly weaken the cactus.