Houseplants forum→Christmas cactus- WORMS 🤢

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Name: Bria
Northern VA (Zone 7a)
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Bschmuck
Dec 28, 2020 9:56 AM CST
Hi guys! My mom gave me this Christmas cactus the other day. It looks okay, I think. The soil is very moist, so I haven't watered it yet. It's in it's original pot.

I noticed little white worms or possibly grubs in the soil today. I didn't go deep, I just pulled out an old flower bud that was laying on the surface of the soil and a couple worms came out with it. There are also spider webs in there. 😱

My plant is giving me the heebie-geebies, y'all. Anything I can do about this? Thanks!
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Name: Sue Taylor
Northumberland, UK
Charter ATP Member Bulbs Bookworm Amaryllis Houseplants Annuals
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kniphofia
Dec 28, 2020 10:36 AM CST
What exactly do you mean by worms and grubs?

The plant looks healthy. Has it been outdoors?
Name: Bria
Northern VA (Zone 7a)
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Bschmuck
Dec 28, 2020 12:55 PM CST
@kniphofia you had to make me investigate closer, huh? Ick. Upon closer inspection I see tiny translucent worms and incredibly small crawling bugs that look black with cameras flash and zoomed in. I couldn't find the fatter whitish worm I spotted previously.

I'm hoping these may just be different parts of life cycle of the same insect and not multiple different bugs? And also spider webs in the leaves.

It has not been outdoors since purchase from the store. Unsure of conditions before that, of course.
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Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Houseplants Keeper of Poultry Vegetable Grower Region: Maryland Composter
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sallyg
Dec 28, 2020 2:02 PM CST
Hi Bria,
I am not quite sure what to say about these, so I hope kniphofia has more- she knows her stuff.

I'd guess they aren't harming the plant, and are tiny critters that eat decaying bits in the soil. So no need to worry that they will swarm the house. They probably won't thrive long term, and will die and become part of the soil. Maybe you can hasten that by flooding the pot with mild soapy water or a 50/50 alcohol/water bath. Then rinse, and let dry.
i'm pretty OK today, how are you? ;^)
Name: Sue Taylor
Northumberland, UK
Charter ATP Member Bulbs Bookworm Amaryllis Houseplants Annuals
Garden Photography Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Foliage Fan Bee Lover Region: United Kingdom I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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kniphofia
Dec 29, 2020 4:15 AM CST
I think the transparent worms are the larval stage of the fungus gnat, which is what the black bugs will be.

They're very common in houseplants. They won't harm your plant, they're more of an annoyance.

Damper compost encourages them, so you could let the top few inches of compost get quite dry which should discourage them.
Name: Rose
Colorado Springs, CO (Zone 5b)
Cactus and Succulents Cat Lover Butterflies Photo Contest Winner 2021
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romalu
Dec 30, 2020 9:12 AM CST
Bschmuck said:
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The tiny insect in this photo is a springtail.

Bschmuck said: Thumb of 2020-12-28/Bschmuck/4e2814

These look like 'pot worms', aka 'white worms', or Enchyraeidae.

Both are common members of a soil ecosystem and harmless to your plant; they feed on bacteria, fungi, mold, and decaying organic material.

The fatter worm you describe may be the fungus gnat larva; as Sue said, also harmless to your plant, but the flying adults are certainly annoying to us gardeners!

All in all you appear to have rich healthy soil that's usually on the damp side -- and that is not necessarily a good thing for an epiphytic cactus that likes its feet on the drier side. If I were you, I'd repot in a looser potting mix (basic succulent potting soil, or a 50/50 mix of potting soil and orchid mix) that will dry out more quickly, and be less prone to mold and thus bugs.
[Last edited by romalu - Dec 30, 2020 9:26 AM (+)]
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Name: Tommy
Hudson Valley of N.Y.
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tommyr
Jan 2, 2021 11:53 AM CST
Buy a package of "Mosquito dunks" at the garden center. It is BT. Put one quarter of one in your watering can. This will kill the larvae in the soil and stop future generations. It is all natural and safe. But give it some time to work. Use sticky traps and manually kill the adults.

By the way, that is a Thanksgiving cactus.
Name: Bria
Northern VA (Zone 7a)
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Bschmuck
Jan 2, 2021 2:40 PM CST
Ok guys, I have more problems. My MIL also just brought me a Holiday cactus and it looks beautiful, but there are again lots of what appears to be spider webs in it. Is this spider mites? There is a HOLE in one of the stems! Do spider mites do that? How do I fix this?

I promise, I will never ask for a Holiday cactus again.
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Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Houseplants Keeper of Poultry Vegetable Grower Region: Maryland Composter
Native Plants and Wildflowers Organic Gardener Region: United States of America Cat Lover Birds Butterflies
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sallyg
Jan 2, 2021 6:08 PM CST
Mites do not make holes. I don't see any webs.
Just enjoy the flowers and stop examining them Smiling They live or die, but mostly live.
i'm pretty OK today, how are you? ;^)
Name: Bria
Northern VA (Zone 7a)
Houseplants Birds
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Bschmuck
Jan 2, 2021 7:22 PM CST
I think I found the culprit! I got out a flashlight and dug in there. I have no idea what this guy is, but could he have caused this damage? And with him gone should I expect the plant to be ok?
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Name: Bria
Northern VA (Zone 7a)
Houseplants Birds
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Bschmuck
Jan 2, 2021 7:31 PM CST
I wonder if this can be some sort of silk producing worm that may also be responsible for the webbing I see?
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Name: Bria
Northern VA (Zone 7a)
Houseplants Birds
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Bschmuck
Jan 5, 2021 8:40 PM CST
If anyone wants to know how this story ends, the first cactus is doing well! I've found a few baby spider friends in there, but hopefully have removed them all.

The second and gorgeously blooming cactus is NO MORE. I identified the caterpillar/worm thing as a European Pepper Moth larva. I euthanized it, so I don't introduce an invasive species into my state.

I gave the plant a couple days after I cleared away all the silk and wiped down some leaves with rubbing alcohol and hoped for the best. Alas, tonight I noticed the webbing had returned and there is new and worse damage to almost all the basal stems. When I pulled up some of the stems the damage extended below the soil surface. And I found more larvae of different stages.
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Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Houseplants Keeper of Poultry Vegetable Grower Region: Maryland Composter
Native Plants and Wildflowers Organic Gardener Region: United States of America Cat Lover Birds Butterflies
Image
sallyg
Jan 6, 2021 6:37 AM CST
Well, I hadn't heard of that. Here's more if others are interested.
http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/crea...
i'm pretty OK today, how are you? ;^)

Numajej
Jan 6, 2021 10:51 AM CST
I had the same problem with my cactuses !! I was taking care of them as I should (or at least I thought so) and one day I notice that something is moving around them ... I look and there are some bugs. I rushed to the flower shop and got some conditioner (unfortunately I don't remember the name), but I thank you with all my heart, who helped me save my babies! However, if that was not enough, my cacti said that they would rebel yet and that brown spots popped up. One survived, the other, unfortunately, did not

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