Dealing with pest infestation on your orchid is quite normal, especially during the summer. You need to fully understand how to get rid of bugs on orchids.
Of course, you don’t want these invasive bugs destroying the unadulterated beauty of your orchid. According to the American Orchid Society, there are thousands of orchid pests that could potentially harm your plant.
This post will, however, center on common orchid pests like mealybugs, scales, and aphids. Keep in mind that dealing with orchid pests can be quite challenging.
The methods highlighted here will be pretty helpful in getting rid of these invasive pests.
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Top 3 Common Orchid Pests
As mentioned earlier, there are thousands of orchid pests that could potentially harm your plant. However, we will concentrate on some of the common ones you can encounter more often.
Scales are the most common of all orchid pests. These pests come in over 20 species, but the most common of them all is the brown scale which has yellow or brown oval "shells.”
Scales suck out the nutrients from your orchid and can be found in the leaves, petals, sepals, petioles, and pseudobulbs of your plant.
If the scales infestation is a bit minimal, you can easily handpick them out of your plants. Rubbing alcohol, insecticidal soap, and oil spraying are effective ways to manage the infestation of scales on your orchid plant.
Mealybugs, just like scales, are serious orchid pests. They are also quite challenging to control. They can be found on your orchid roots, pseudobulbs, and the underside of leaves.
They can also burrow in the rhizomes and potting media of your plant. The use of rubbing alcohol and repotting is also suitable for controlling these orchid pests.
Some horticultural oils and soaps are also good for keeping orchid pests.
Aphids are also similar and related to scales. They are soft-bodied insects commonly found in orchids. Aphids are mostly found in new growth, at the base of flower buds, and on the undersides of leaves.
You can control aphids by blasting them away with a garden hose or handpicking them out if the aphid infestation is a bit minimal. Organic garlic and chili sprays are also proven ways to eradicate aphids.
How To Get Rid of Bugs on Orchids
It has been said that getting rid of orchid pests entirely is almost impossible. However, with the right methods, you can control pest infestations until they are gradually eradicated.
Below are some steps to employ in getting rid of some invasive bugs that plague your orchid.
1. Hand Picking
Handpicking is recommended when the pest infestation is still at an early stage. Suppose you are lucky to notice some invasive bugs before they lay eggs and multiply. In that case, you can easily control them by picking them out.
This method might not be as effective because sometimes, pests like aphids and scales burrow into your orchid plant's root and potting media.
Use a garden host to physically blast off the pests like spider mites, aphids, mealybugs, and other insects. The pressure from the hose can dislodge these pests.
Using water to raise the humidity levels of plants, especially in heated homes during the winter, when the air is also another proven way to control pest infestation.
Increasing the humidity through humidity trays, saucers of damp pebbles placed under each plant, or even a room humidifier can be quite helpful.
You can also soak the potting medium in water to eradicate pests that burrow into the soil. Completely soak the pot and potting medium of the affected plant in a bucket of water overnight to eradicate invasive bugs.
3. Rubbing alcohol
Rubbing alcohol is another effective way to get rid of bugs. You can soak isopropyl in a cotton swab and dab it on scale, mealybugs, mites, and aphids off orchids.
Alcohol can dissolve the insects' waxy covering and reach the pests hiding in the sheaths and leaf crevices.
Rubbing alcohol can be mixed with a few drops of mild liquid soap in a spray bottle and sprayed on the affected parts.
4. Horticultural Oils
Horticultural oil is a safe and effective method to get rid of pests, especially when compared to insecticides. The use of horticultural oil is more effective when used in the early stage of the pest infestation.
Horticultural oil should be applied all over your orchid to smother the pests breathing pores and eggs. Mix these oils with water and a plant-safe detergent for more effectiveness.
5. Insecticidal Soaps
Insecticidal soap is also another safe method of dealing with pest infestation. These soaps will smother pests and dissolve their cuticle.
You will need to apply the soap all over the plant in cases of heavy infestation. Soaps are effective against soft-bodied pests such as aphids and mealybugs.
Repotting becomes necessary for pest that burrows into the potting medium laying eggs and leaving toxins in the soil which is an overall danger to the plant.
When repotting, it might also be necessary for you to clean the roots gently to ensure that some harmful pests such as scale and mealybugs are not hiding among the roots.
Insecticide usage should always be adopted when other methods outlined here failed.
Ensure that the product you use is suitable for orchids. Strictly adhere to label directions for dosage and safe use.
How to Prevent Pests on Orchids
Prevention is better than cure; thus, good cultural practices can reduce cases of pest infestation. This is because healthy plants are more resistant to pests than weaker ones.
Some of these good cultural practices include attaining to your plant's needs in terms of water, temperature, light, fertilizer, and humidity.
When dealing with pest infestation, you need to be extremely cautious not to create more problems for your plants. The following should be adopted when dealing with pest control methods:
- Change methods and chemicals occasionally.
- Use the insecticide labeled for orchids and not ornamental plants
- Do not use the same chemical more than 3 times,
- Do not use more than the minimum concentration of a mixture.
It's easy to get quite sad when bugs are in the process of damaging your favorite orchid plant.
But with this post on how to how to get rid of bugs on orchids, you realize that getting rids of these pests while it may be a bit tasking is wholly possible.
Keep in mind that the most effective way of getting rid of pests is by adopting good cultural practices. When your plant receives the proper care, pest infestation might never have to occur.