Guest Author - Haidy Ear-Dupuy
As sometimes happens when growing orchids, you may notice there are small, white, powdery bugs that cling to your plant. Often found under the leaf or at the base of the plant, where new growth occurs, the mealy bugs can be lethal to your orchids.
Once your plants are infected, it can be difficult to get rid of them. The best thing is to prevent the infection by putting new orchids in quarantine before putting in the same place as your collection.
However, if you happen to have them on your orchids, make sure to separate the infected ones from the rest of the other plants. You can dip cotton swabs into isopropyl alcohol and dab them on the bugs to kill them. You can also pick them off with tweezers. Those plants that have mealy bugs infection just at the base, would need to be thoroughly cleaned before repotting.
With constant cleaning, you can eventually break the cycle of reproduction and eventually get rid of all the traces of bugs.
Green aphids and scaly insects can also be found on the orchids. The green aphids are little pinhead size and can damage the growth as well. Daily observations and cleaning of plants can give you time to catch any pest problem early, giving you sufficient time to stop the pests from multiplying.
Scaly insects are the brown spots, crusted shells that cling to the underside of the orchidsí leaves. If not removed on time, they can eventually kill the orchid by draining it of life. Leaves can eventually turn yellow and fall off. By forming a shell, the insect can protect itself from chemical spray, sometimes it is more effective to clean them off with your hands. Making sure to wash your hands well after removing each of the crusted shell, since they can very well spread through your fingers, touching another part of the plant.
You can also use the insecticide soap to spray the insect, but make sure to soak your plants thoroughly the day before so that the soap would not dehydrate the plants. If the infection if severe, you can dip the plant in the soap completely so that the insects come in contact with the soap.
Donít be surprised if after all the treatment you are not able to save your orchid. With serious infection that has been caught too late, you may find it is difficult to save the plant. But at least you would have separated it from the rest of your collection and hopefully no other plants have been infected.