Ask a Question forum: Weird red bugs on my cactus

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Mynamite
Sep 10, 2016 8:07 PM CST
Hi, hope you can help! My ex gave me a cactus years ago. It's been thriving for years in my care! Found some weird red bugs feeding from the flower buds which I believe are spider mites.
So my actually have 3 questions...
1. Can someone please identify this cactus? It blooms at night, for only one night, beautiful...ill post photos if I can figure out how to do that (first time on this forum)
2. How can I kill these bugs without killing my plant? I got some safer soap spray, will that hurt the cactus?
3. Any tips on transplanting this thing? It outgrew its pot some time ago
Thanks so much for your help!


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Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Sep 10, 2016 11:29 PM CST
Welcome! to NGA

I'm not seeing what you are identifying as spider mites. Spider mites are tiny tiny red insects (not actually insects but members of the spider family) that form masses of webs. That is what people normally see first - their plants being covered in webs.

Spider mites do like dust. Washing your cactus with soapy water (and rinsing well) is the best preventative. Once you have them, the best defense is soapy water. Smiling

It is a Cereus (maybe peruvianus or San Pedro), common name Night Blooming Cereus, not to be confused with Epiphyllum oxypetalum with the same common name.

Cactus don't need big pots - if its not top heavy, I would leave it alone. It seems to be doing good. If you do repot, consider putting it back in the same pot with fresh potting soil.



Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
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sooby
Sep 11, 2016 4:51 AM CST
Welcome! It looks as though the tiny bugs on the flower have wings, so they're not spider mites. I'm not sure what they are though, they look like they may be small flies. Are they actually causing any damage? If they are not actually doing any damage there's no need to treat for them. Apparently some cacti can be damaged by soap sprays so if you do go that route you may want to test it on a small area of the plant first according to Missouri Botanical Garden here:

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/gardens-gardening/you...
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Sep 11, 2016 7:51 AM CST
It reminds me of a night blooming cactus I used to have at our old house Peruvian Apple (Cereus repandus) and I think those insects are just little gnats. I used to see them all over the blooms of my cactus flowers at night and early in the morning before the blooms faded. The night bloomers attract nighttime pollinators. Smiling
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~

Mynamite
Sep 11, 2016 7:57 AM CST
Thank you both for the prompt replies! I must apologize; the photos I posted here were only for identification of the cactus, not the critters who've attacked it. I tried to get photos of those but they were not very good. I was too close, then it rained and I came inside. I'll post what I have if I can clean up the images a bit.
My guess that they are red spider mites came from a photo I found online.
There were never webs on the plant. There was a strange, lumpy mass of dried brown "goo" near where I first saw the things. There had been 3 flower buds that they've managed to destroy already. Since the buds fell off, they seem to be wandering all along the plant, and several have disappeared this morning. They appear to be more red/orange than they appear in the photos
Ah, got a couple photos: That's the little bugger!
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[Last edited by Mynamite - Sep 11, 2016 8:06 AM (+)]
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Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
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plantladylin
Sep 11, 2016 8:05 AM CST
I'm not great at bug ID but that might be an Assasin bug ... they eat other insects that would damage plants! Scroll down this page for comparison images: http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/beneficial/bugs/zelus_lo...
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~

Mynamite
Sep 11, 2016 8:12 AM CST
I was hoping they were beneficial... Till they sucked the life out of my flower buds! I'll check out those images...
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
Sep 11, 2016 8:23 AM CST
Looks rather like this guy:

http://melvynyeo.deviantart.com/art/Coreidae-Nymph-336208341

Also see second pic down on this page. The article also mentions cactus as a host for one of the family:

http://texasinsects.tamu.edu/aimg65.html

Mynamite
Sep 11, 2016 8:23 AM CST
[quote="plantladylin"]I'm not great at bug ID but that might be an Assasin bug ... they eat other insects that would damage plants! Scroll down this page for comparison images:

I looked at the images... Maybe... My buggers appear to have a more rounded butt and body (I'm sure there's a more eloquent way to describe that, but I'm caffeine deprived). The brown "goo" certainly looks familiar!

Mynamite
Sep 11, 2016 8:38 AM CST
Yikes!
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Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
Image
plantladylin
Sep 11, 2016 10:32 AM CST
I think @sooby nailed it ... looks identical to those photos in her link!
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
Image
sooby
Sep 11, 2016 11:01 AM CST
There are more pictures of leaf-footed bugs on Bugguide. Mynamite's are nymphs so would look different as adults.

http://bugguide.net/node/view/245/bgimage

Mynamite
Sep 11, 2016 11:07 AM CST
Yes it does look like sooby found my bug! I have it quarantined, out in the yard away from other plants. Since I'm not positive what it is, I'm going to test the safer soap spray, make sure it doesn't hurt the cactus, then spray it down. I had the same thing (I think) eating my tomatoes when I first moved to Pensacola; dust didn't work. Hopefully the soap spray will. After examining the plant more closely I noticed something has eaten holes on the underside of one of the newer branches... Sure hope I can save this cactus, I love this thing!
THANK YOU to all who have taken the time to try to help! Much appreciated!!!

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