How to Get Rid of Ants in Cactus?

Any plant needs proper care so that it can flourish. Cactus plants are generally easier to handle as they are very hardy.

Cactus plants can survive in the worst of conditions and generally don’t require much maintenance to thrive.

Since they thrive so well in all sorts of environments, they’re popular in homes and even for students who don’t have a lot of time on their hands.

Even though these Cactus plants are super hardy, there are still basic requirements that need to be fulfilled.

These requirements are water, nutrition, soil, and protection. It needs protection from pests and ants, which can attack the cactus.

Generally, these cactus plants create their protection because they have spines that deter any ants or predators that may attack the plant.

Cactus plants have the same objective as any plant, which is to grow. As someone who’s taking care of the Cactus plant, you want to give it the best opportunity for growth.

This fact means that you’ll have to get rid of ants in the cactus.

In the article below, we’ll talk about how we can get rid of ants in your cactus plant so it can thrive wherever you keep it.

Where Do You Find Ants in Cactus?

We tend to find ants anywhere in the world. Ants are some of the most commonly occurring pests, and so it’s likely that if you keep your cactus on any surface, ants will find their way to it.

You must understand that ants are also present in the cactus plant’s soil. Most ants are found around the succulents as these succulents and cactus plants tend to release plant sap which attracts the ants to them.

A few ants here and there are not as big of a problem. Some ants around any of the plants are necessary.

However, if you find that there’s a persistent trail of ants constantly making their way into and out of the cactus plants, then there may be the risk of a pest infestation in your succulent or cactus plants.

Ants are generally a sign there are other problems within your cactus plants.

Once ants start flocking to your cactus, it’s an indicator that there may be an infestation of other pests which would completely take over the cactus plant.

Ants love feeding on the honeydew, a sweet and nutritious residue that forms when mealybugs and aphids feed on your cactus plant.

Thus, to get rid of ants, you will likely have to address a pest infestation in your cactus plant.

How Do You Get Rid of Ants in Your Cactus Plant?

You’ll have to take the following steps to get rid of ants from your cactus plant.


The first step is to isolate your cactus plant or succulent from the rest of your potted plants. You don’t want the aphids, mealybugs, or even the ants to travel from one place to the other.

After you’ve isolated the plant, you want to conduct a thorough check on your cactus plants and succulents to know if there are any attacks by other pests on these plants.

You should inspect all the crevices or bumps. You may also want to look at the rosettes of a succulent, as aphids and mealybugs tend to hide here too.

Checking these plants thoroughly helps you identify the root cause of the problem so you can take the necessary decision to end it.


The next thing you will have to do is lure the ants away from your succulent or cactus. This action will require you to practice a bit of a bait and switch.

You can take a dish with sugar and oil or some borax-based ant baits and use these to bait the ants.

Once the ants leave the succulent and rush towards your baited area, you can get a pest spray and use these to kill the ants.

You can repeat this action until you’re sure there are no extra ants left in your cactus plant.


After you’ve done the above step at least twice, you’ll know that most of the ants are now out of the cactus plant.

Once you’ve done this, take your cactus plant or succulent and run this under a strong stream of water. This action will help you wash out any other ants present on the cactus or succulent.

To conduct a more thorough removal, you can also submerge your plant in a special solution.

The solution involves a tablespoon or two of insecticidal soap mixed with 4 cups of water. This solution is likely to eliminate all the ants present in the soil.

Once these ants die, they may show up on the spine or stems of the cactus plant. From here, you can brush out all the dead ants using a toothbrush or any small brush.

If you think that soaking the succulent or cactus plant in soapy water may harm its environment and ecosystem, then you don’t have to do it.

You can, instead, just remove the soil altogether and replace it with better potting soil or mix.

We recommend that you don’t use soil and instead use a coarse potting mix with less organic matter as these mixtures are less likely to have a ground for pest infestations and thus insect infestations.

Repotting allows your cactus plant to have new, healthier soil that it can grow in. Before you unpot your Cactus plant, you will have to get the proper gear like gloves and other accessories.

You will also have to get yourself the right kind of potting mix so none of the insects or ants that attacked your plants previously can do so again.

While you remove the cactus plants from the pot, you should ensure that you wash the roots thoroughly so there are no ants on them.


You must understand that the ants wouldn’t be there if they didn’t have a food source with them. You have to not remove the food source from the cactus plant or succulents.

This food source could be aphids and mealybugs and their honeydew. To remove these pests and their honeydew, you will have to wipe the cactus plant with a soapy cloth or sponge.

Once you do that, you can then spray the plant with 70% isopropyl alcohol to kill the pests instead.

How to Deter Ants From Your Cactus Plant

  1. One of the easiest ways to keep the ants away from your cactus plant is to re-pot it. Once you have shifted the pots of your cactus, you can then prevent ants from getting to your cactus by using physical barriers. A small square of mesh will help your ants stay away from the cactus plant physically. They won’t have access to any cell sap or organic matter surrounding the cactus plant. You can also place a square piece of mesh on the inside of the pot before you add the soil, as this prevents the ants from entering the plant through the drainage hole.
  2. Aside from a physical barrier, you may also use a chemical barrier around the potted plant so that ants stay away. Something like ant powder or diatomaceous earth can help create a barrier, which ants won’t cross as quickly.
  3. You can also make a simple fix of moving your succulents or cactus plants around often. You don’t have to keep them in one place for long. You should also ensure that the surroundings are clean and don’t involve the perfect conditions for ants. You should try your best to keep the roots of your cactus plants as dry as you can, so there’s no rotting or breakdown of organic material which would otherwise attract ants to you.
  4. Ants also don’t like potent acids or acidic mediums, so you can also spray lemon juice around your cactus plant to act as a deterrent for your potted plants.
  5. Ants also don’t enjoy the smell of mint, so you can place a few springs of mint in the pot. Or, if you don’t want to do this since mint is organic matter, you can use mint essential oils instead.

Final Thoughts

If you have ants in your plants, then chances are it likely speaks of a bigger problem.

The best way to deal with this is to get to the root of the pest problem and tackle it.

Ants in themselves will not harm your plants as much. However, what they represent could result in the death of your Cactus plant.

Thus, it’s best to act quickly to save your cactus plants from the problems they face.