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Orchid Pests: Thrips Can Spell Trouble

June 29, 2012

Imagine: One day you notice your orchids looking discolored or deformed. A closer inspection reveals a disturbing surprise: thrips have taken up residence.

If not taken care of, Thrips are a threat to your orchidThrips, with their yellow or black bodies and flat, feathery wings, are the umbrella name for several species of insects that feed on orchids, including the popular phalaenopsis. Included in the category of “sucking” orchid pests like aphids and mealybugs, thrips use their rasping mouthparts to feed on new buds and draw out the sap from stems, leaves and flowers.

Once you find evidence of these orchid pests, take fast action to curtail the damage.

  • Begin with a strong spray of water to knock thrips off the leaves and stems
  • Some people add soap; however, stronger dish soaps may strip the protective wax off the leaves
  • Drops of rubbing alcohol will kill off the insects, but may damage soft or thin-leafed orchids
  • Insecticides with ingredients like acephate, bifenthrin and cyfluthrin will kill thrips, but such chemicals are a treatment, not a preventative; routine insecticide dosages will not benefit the orchid

Stop the Population Explosion

Because thrips are opportunistic insects that will travel from pot to pot, isolate the affected plants until you’re confident that the orchid pests are completely eliminated. May and June are the trickiest months, as that is when thrips migrate and re-infest their orchid targets.

Noticing your flowers starting to discolor? Just Add Ice Orchids is the place to get the facts. From positioning the pot to getting the water just right, you can rely on us to help you keep your plants healthy and beautiful.

Photo Credit: Kristi