Last Updated on August 16, 2022 by Griselda M.
Does Aloe vera attract bugs or is this another gardening myth? The Aloe vera plant is beautiful, and, it has nooks and crannies in its leaves that can provide hiding places for insects. To say that the plant attracts bugs is probably an overstatement, but we live in a world where insects are everywhere, and there will be the occasional bug that can hide in your aloe. Let’s take a closer look at this.
What is Aloe Vera?
Aloe vera is one of the best low-maintenance plants for gardening because of its beautiful flowers, leaves, and roots and water-wise growth requirements. The plant has many medicinal properties and is also known as the ‘barbados aloe’ as it was once believed to come from Barbados. More recent genetic research suggests most likely that this plant originated in the Arabian peninsula. Aloe vera has been widely used for centuries for medicinal purposes.
There seems to be some internet meme that has evolved suggesting that Aloe vera plants repel mosquitos and fleas and various other insects. Often these sorts of memes are based on half-truths and the best way to get to the bottom of “advice” is to go to a website such as Pubmed that contains peer-reviewed research. The closest I can find is that Aloe vera extract appears to have some efficacy in controlling mosquitos – IF – you spray the extract into areas where mosquito larvae are present. I can find no hard evidence that the actual plants do anything to chase any insects away.
Does Aloe Vera Attract Bugs?
Aloe vera neither repels nor attracts bugs in general. There are over a million species of insects, 50 000 species of spiders, 12 000 species of millipedes, and the list of things we call “bugs” go on. Some insects will use aloe as a hiding place. I often find spiders and some wasps that will use the aloe as a hiding place. Carpenter bees love to make their nests in the stems of dry aloe flowers, and having these bees in your garden is a good thing.
An unhealthy aloe plant can become stressed and get certain pests such as scale and mealy bugs, that in turn attract ants. Ants are good food for larger predatory insects, so if you have a sickly aloe infested with scale and ants, you can expect to find spiders that eat ants moving into the area too. This is not necessarily a bad thing.
A healthy aloe plant is pretty pest resistant, however, so if you keep your aloes healthy by not over watering them, giving them enough sunlight, and planting them in well-drained soil, your aloes should be naturally pest resistant.
Growing Aloe The Easy Way
Aloe vera is in my opinion nearly a pest it is so easy to grow. The plants grow in numbers by shooting out “pups” from their rhizomes. With time, a pot can get a bit overcrowded and in some cases, the roots of the aloe can fill the pot up so much that you can end up with the pot cracking when you water the plants. The roots absorb water, expand and break the pot.
If you need to break up a clump of aloes it is really easy. I just remove the entire lump of aloes from the pot and hose the soil of the roots using a strong jet of water. I normally just do this on the lawn and the soil washes out to the benefit of the lawn.
Once your clump of aloe roots is exposed use a sharp knife to cut through the rhizomes and make sure that each plant you separate has a few inches of root. Place all the plants in a cool dry place under a bush or tree and let the cuts in the roots dry off for a few days. I see on the internet that a lot of people suggest immediately planting and watering your aloe – this will result in root rot. It is important to let the cuts dry and heal.
After a few days of this healing process, you can plant the aloes into new pots using good-quality succulent soil such as this.
If you use a ceramic pot for aloes be careful to report them quite often. If you leave aloes in ceramic pots too long, their roots can break the pot, which is always a bit sad as ceramic pots are beautiful and expensive normally.
What Other Plants Drive Away Bugs?
If you want to repel insects, you need to cover your garden with plants that have a strong smell. Many herb plants produce terpenes, a class of hydrocarbons. These strong-smelling plants include mint, basil, oregano, marigolds, nasturtiums, and marjoram. The smell of these plants is so strong, that it will keep many insects away.
You also need to use plants that are strong enough to fight off the bugs. For example, marigolds can deter aphids, while marjoram can deter spider mites. And oregano is one of the best plants for repelling ants. This said I have seen marigolds covered in all sorts of pests!
If you are looking for plants that last longer than others, try planting your garden with herbs like rosemary, perennial basil, thyme, lavender, and lemon balm. These plants have a much stronger scent than mint or marjoram.
Plus, they last much longer. If you have a lot of insects in your garden, you may want to look into using some of these strong-smelling herb plants. But if you only have a few insects, you don’t need to use them.
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So, does Aloe vera attract bugs? Aloe vera is not particularly attractive or repellant to bugs. A healthy aloe tends to be very disease resistant. This does not mean that it will not make a good home for a spider or two! I personally work on the assumption that spiders are predators – if one comes to live in my aloe I identify it. If it is not a horribly poisonous one, then we agree to live together. If it is a button spider, black widow or some other nasty spider, we tend to have a discussion that involves a lid and a bottle and taking the spider to a new home.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to get rid of bugs in my aloe vera plant?
Aloe vera does not have a history of being attacked by bugs rather it is known to repel them from its presence and the garden around where its grows. This is not for any other reason than that it is just not of interest to most bugs.
What bugs are attracted to aloe?
The bugs that will be attracted to the aloe vera plants are not the ones which are harmful or even poisonous to humans. Generally it will just be some sort of creature that uses the aloe as a nice home to hide in.
What animals eat aloe vera plants?
There are a few beetle species that can eat them. Sometimes when they grow fast you will find snails may rasp away a bit at fresh leaves. I have once or twice had rats and mice gnaw a bit at leaves, but generally an aloe is very low on the list of things that anything wants to eat. Try bite a leaf - there are bitter compounds in the skin.
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Caroline is a gardener who loves to get down to the nitty–gritty of gardening. She proudly proclaims herself as a ‘dirt worshipper‘ and can often be found deep in the garden, covered in soil and singing to her plants. As a self–proclaimed ‘plant whisperer‘, Caroline believes that plants need love and attention just like any other living thing, and she loves to give them both. When she‘s not tending to her garden, you can often find her researching the latest gardening trends, or teaching others how to make their gardens thrive