Let’s face it: Bugs will find your orchid, but they don’t have to be the flower’s demise! Once orchid bugs infest the plant, aggressive measures need to be taken to save your orchid collection and even other plants nearby.
First and foremost: Any Phalaenopsis orchid plant suffering from a pest invasion should be isolated from other houseplants until it is bug-free.
This is a two-part blog. In Part 1, we’ll discuss scale insects and aphids, and we’ll provide solutions for getting rid of them.
Orchid pest: Scale
What is scale?
Scale insects attach themselves to the stems and leaves of orchids and other houseplants. Soft scale insects are white and cottony. Hard scale insects are small, oval and flat with a hard brown shell.
When they take over a plant, it will start to look withered and sickly. Leaves will turn yellow and may even drop from the plant.
How do I get rid of bugs on my orchid?
Reminder: Move your infested orchid away from other plants because bugs can move from plant to plant.
Newly discovered scale infestations can be addressed by rubbing a cotton swab doused in isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) onto the leaves and stems where the insects are located. You can also use your finger to dislodge and discard the pests. Treatment should be repeated when any new insects hatch. Serious or hard-to-treat scale infestations can be addressed by smothering the insects using a spray bottle filled with neem oil — an insecticide found at most gardening centers.
For the best results, apply insecticides weekly for a month or until you notice the bugs are gone. If nothing seems to be working or the scale bug numbers are increasing, it may be time to part with your plant.
Orchid pest: Aphids
What are aphids?
Aphids find their way into almost every garden, and they’re a common houseplant pest, too. They are small, soft-bodied insects that suck the juices out of plants and leave a sticky-sweet sap in their wake. The sap then grows a sooty mold that will destroy the orchid. Aphids multiply quickly, so it’s best to catch them early. They love to hide on the underside of leaves.
How do I get rid of aphids on my orchid?
Aphids can be removed by squirting them with a jet of water from a squirt bottle. Aphid treatment must be repeated every few days for the best results. Insecticidal soap may be required for serious infestations with continued treatment for several weeks following.
Watching out for pesky bugs is all part of regular orchid care. Keep the creepy crawlies at bay with these tips. Next week, Part 2 will focus on spider mites and mealybugs.