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Orchid Pests: Whiteflies and How to Get Rid of Them

July 3, 2012

If you see dotting of white on the underside of your orchid’s leaves, you’ve got trouble in the form of a whitefly infestation.

Whiteflies are one of many pests that can do damage to orchidsAmong orchid pests, whiteflies are “sucking” insects like aphids and thrips. These tiny creatures attach themselves to their host, feeding on nutrient-rich sap. If not curtailed, whiteflies overtake and weaken your orchid to the point of killing it.

As the insects do their damage, you’ll notice mottled or yellowing leaves, new growth that’s failing to thrive, and the telltale cloud of white.

What’s more, these orchid pests are the prey of ants, so if you have whiteflies, ants are likely to follow—creating another issue to address.

Take action

Getting rid of whiteflies begins with keeping your pot or growing area clean to discourage infestations. From there your options include:
  • Predators:You can find whitefly hunters that don’t include unhygienic ants. Greenhouse suppliers sell helpful predators—like ladybugs and praying mantis—that eat the orchid pests and leave when they’ve finished the job.
  • Fungus: Though growers are more familiar with fungicides than fungus, the species beauvaria bassianiaworks on whiteflies. Sold under brand names like Naturalis O and Botanigard, the fungus weakens the flies’ immune systems, causing death.
  • Insecticide: Recommended treatments include pyrethin, diazinon and malathion. Always follow label directions, especially if you treat young orchids that may be sensitive to the chemical compounds.
At Just Add Ice Orchids, keeping your flowers healthy and beautiful is our job—and our passion. Look to our website for tips, forums, and even helpful reminders to get the best from your orchids.