The pest which is attacking my plants is ‘Sweetpotato Whitefly’ (Bemisia tabaci). This pest often feeds on herbaceous plants.
Identifying White fly
• They appear as tiny white to yellowish specks on the underside of leaves.
• When the infested orchid/plant is disturbed, you see streaks of white flying around you.
How to know whether Whitefly has invaded your orchids or not?
• Check the underside of the leaves that is where the pests rest and breeds.
• Leaves start turning yellow and fall off.
Damage caused by Whitefly
• Whitefly cause deformity in leaves. They become twisted or their margins take on a wavy appearance.
• Whitefly sucks the sap, which is the life force of the plant. As a result, the orchid weakens and very acute infestation can even kill the orchid.
• They sometimes also carry viruses, which are very difficult to control.
• Whitefly release a sweet substance called ‘honey dew’, which in turn attracts sooty mould forming fungus.
How to prevent/control Whitefly in orchids
• Remove the plant that is attracting the pest.
• Regularly check the underside of the leaves.
• Shake the infected plant frequently to disturb the pests and keep bright yellow-strip traps nearby to catch them. You can buy or can make them at home. For making them at home: Take a bright/shiny/laminated strip of yellow paper. Cut out strips from it and rub a sticky solution (can be Vaseline or any kind of thick oil that does not dry) and the strips are ready to use.
• Strong odours seem to discourage whitefly. So you can burn incense sticks around your orchids.
• Introducing whitefly predators such as Encarsia Formosa can also help in controlling the pests.
I have tried different methods to tackle the problem. I have been manually cleaning the underside of the leaves, sooty mould and whitefly nymphs all are cleared. Further, I have used a homemade solution suggested by the Old farmer’s Almanac for the whiteflies, which will not harm the friendly insects in your garden.
Using most of the methods and tricks mentioned above, I have been able to control the pests, though they keep coming back! Probably someone in the neighbourhood is keeping them as pets!!
Check whitefly photo at Orchids at Bellaonline.com
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