In our previous post, we discussed how several pests could take aim on your Phalaenopsis orchid, including Scale and Aphids. Below, we continue to cover other orchid pests that could cause harm to your beautiful plant.
Spider mites typically attack Phalaenopsis orchids undetected until significant damage is done to the plant. Spider mites are sucking pests that kill the cells on the surface of the Phalaenopsis orchid leaves. The damage from these pests will make the leaves take on a silvery color. Like other types of spiders, spider mites will spin silky webs among the leaves that they are damaging. When spider mites are suspected, use a white cloth to wipe the Phalaenopsis leaf. If the cloth appears to have brown or red streaks on it, then spider mites are present. Spider mites thrive in a dry climate. If spider mites are present, increase the humidity of the orchid plant by wiping it down with water. Placing the plant in a humidity tray will help to bring the humidity levels up in the growing area. Spider mites can be killed by mixing a few drops of dishwashing liquid with rubbing alcohol. Spray the Phalaenopsis orchid each week for several weeks to ensure that any new spider mites are killed.
Mealy bugs will hide in all areas on and around a Phalaenopsis orchid. You can find these tiny, long white creatures living in the potting media, on the plants, under the potting trays, or in any crevice that they can squeeze into. These pests are oval shaped insects that look to have legs, but in actuality only have filaments instead. These pests can be killed by spraying the entire Phalaenopsis orchid with rubbing alcohol. Because the insects also live in the potting media, the alcohol will need to be drizzled into the media and sprayed on the outside of the planter. Let stand for five minutes and then rinse all alcohol away with water. Mealy bugs on the orchid may need to be removed with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol. Neem oil and insecticidal soap is also an option for killing this invasive pest.
Is your plant suffering from a different orchid emergency? Check our Orchid 911 guide to find the answers to many common troubles.
Reprinted from the NOVEMBER 2001 issue of Orchids -- The Bulletin of the American Orchid Society. Copyright American Orchid Society