In our previous post, we discussed how scale insects and aphids could devastate your Phalaenopsis orchid and we shared ways to control them. In this post, we continue to cover other orchid pests that could cause harm to your beautiful plant, including spider mites and mealybugs.
Don’t forget: If you spot any pests on your orchids, be sure to quarantine it in another room until the infestation is gone. Bugs can travel from plant to plant, causing more infested plants and big headaches.
Orchid pest: Spider mites
What are spider mites?
These predatory mites suck on and kill the cells on the surface of Phalaenopsis orchid leaves. Their damage takes on a silvery color, and if spider mite populations are left undetected, they can cause significant harm to your plant. An obvious sign of spider mites? Like other types of spiders, spider mites will spin silky webs among the leaves they infest.
How do I get rid of spider mites on my orchid?
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 hot, 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. Kill spider mites by mixing a few drops of dishwashing liquid with rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) and spraying the orchid each week for several weeks to ensure that any new spider mites are killed.
Orchid pest: Mealybugs
What are mealybugs?
Mealybugs are soft-bodied, oval-shaped, wingless insects that look like white cottony masses on orchid leaves and stems. Found in warmer growing climates, they also live in potting medium or under potting trays. Mealybugs also suck the life out of stems and leaves and leave behind a sticky honeydew which encourages the growth of sooty molds. In small numbers, mealybugs are not a threat to your plant, but larger mealybug infestations are hard to get under control.
How do I get rid of mealybugs on my orchid?
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 pot and sprayed on the outside of the planter. Let stand for five minutes and then rinse all alcohol away with water.
Mealybugs on the orchid may need to be removed with a cotton ball or swab dipped in alcohol. Neem oil and insecticidal soap is also an option for killing this and any other insects that feed on your plants.
Protect your orchid from pests
It’s a good idea to examine your orchid, especially the underside of leaves, to stop an infestation in its tracks. If you’re unsure if what you’re seeing is a bug, move your orchid to another area just to be safe.
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