Ask a Question forum: Cactus With Odd Yellow Spots on the Top

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Name: Lindsey
Ohio (Zone 6a)
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ljones26
Jul 3, 2016 7:17 AM CST
Hello!

I have one of those cacti where the colorful top has been grafted onto the green portion. The other day I noticed these little yellowish spots all over it, which can actually be scratched off. I was wondering what this is and what can be done about it! Thank you.
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Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Jul 3, 2016 9:03 AM CST
Welcome! to NGA

You have a really good infestation of scale insects going on there. The best way to deal with them is with rubbing alcohol on a q-tip. Put alcohol on the q-tip and wipe the scale away. Check your other plants!
Name: Lindsey
Ohio (Zone 6a)
Image
ljones26
Jul 3, 2016 5:32 PM CST
Thank you so much!
Name: Lindsey
Ohio (Zone 6a)
Image
ljones26
Jul 3, 2016 9:45 PM CST
Okay I used rubbing alcohol to get the majority of the scale off!! What are these little creatures and where do they come from?

But, now that I removed all the scale, I notice that my cactus is not its normal deep burgundy. Is he dying?:(
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Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Image
DaisyI
Jul 3, 2016 11:42 PM CST
The insects are called 'scale'. They live inside a little waxy shell like a limpet so insecticides don't penetrate. But they have been sucking the life out of your little plant. That was a really big infestation.

It should recover but that depends on a number of things. These plants are grafted onto a 'host' plant (that's the part on the bottom) - the top is not contributing anything to the relationship (no chlorophyll) so the bottom plant is supporting both plants. The amount of energy required to support the top plant and all the bugs has probably taken its toll.

I can see two potential outcomes: The top plant had a certain amount of chlorophyll that was masked by the burgundy color and, because of the stress of the insects, has decided to work a little harder. Chlorophyll is what makes plants appear green and also is a key part of photosynthesis.

Or, the plant is dying. These plants normally live to be only 2 or 3 years old.

It looks to me like its starting to photosynthesize. That's a good thing as it can share in the responsibility of its survival and won't kill the host plant. But a bad thing because your plant won't be burgundy anymore.

Daisy

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