Pests & Diseases Info

WHAT'S BUGGING YOUR ORCHIDS?

Here are some suggestions to help you control the bugs that could damage your orchids.

The greenhouse at Tindara is full of a kaleidoscope of colorful and healthy flowering and foliage plants to brighten every nook and cranny of your dwelling place. While you enjoy gazing at and tending to your flora, always keep an eye out for pests. There are several insects that can weaken and even prove lethal to your Orchids and Houseplants. We hope that this information regarding identification, damage and control of some of these common insects that trouble houseplants will be helpful to you. If you have any questions, we at Tindara are pleased to diagnose and recommend a treatment for all your Orchid & Houseplant maladies

Aphids:

Cluster of Aphids on a plant stem. Identification: Aphids are soft bodied, pear-shaped insects that come with or without wings and in a variety of colors. This pest is easy to identify as it is found in clusters on the tips and buds of the plant where growth is new and succulent.

Damage: Aphids are a sucking insect and their damage presents itself in stunted growth and distorted leaves. Aphids excrete "honeydew" which leaves a sweet, sticky deposit on plant leaves attracting ants and providing a breeding ground for sooty mold.

Control: Aphids are easy to control and can often be knocked off the plant with a strong stream of water. These soft bodied insects are defenseless against most pesticides listed for houseplants. Good choices include: Bonide Rose 3-N-1 Spray & Espoma. We carry the products necessary to control all these insects.

Mealybugs:

Close-up of an adult mealybug Identification: Mealybugs are an oval shaped, white, cottony looking insect that congregate in leaf crotches and stem joints.

Damage: Mealybug damage is caused by sucking and the insect may carry and spread plant fungus and disease. You will observe pale foliage, leaf drop and stunted growth as this insect does its damage.

Control: Mealybugs are difficult insects to control because they have a waxy coating that protects them from some insecticides. A common method of control is to dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and touch it to the insect. Use Bonide Rose 3-N-1 Spray for control. This pest is sensitive to cold so lowering air temperature may also be beneficial in controlling insect population.

Fungus Gnats:

Very enlarged view of a fungus gnat. Identification: Fungus Gnats resemble Fruit flies; they are small, dark, flying insects that hover around Orchids.

Damage: Fungus Gnats cause little damage to Orchids, however, a heavy infestation can be a nuisance.

Control: Adult gnats are easy to control with most insecticides recommended for houseplants especially those containing pyrethrins. We also suggest using our Yellow Sticky Strips.

Spraying with any product must be done frequently to break the insect's life cycle. Fungus Gnat adults are very short lived and therefore lay many eggs during their limited life. It is more difficult to control the insect larvae that live in the potting soil and feed off of decaying organic matter. One way to break the cycle is to allow potting soil to dry slightly between watering as larvae prefer very moist conditions. After watering the plant do not allow water to remain in the pot saucer. A soil drench of Neem Oil has proven effective in destroying Fungus Gnat larvae.

Spider Mites:

Spide mite damage to leaf

Identification: Spider Mites are most prevalent on houseplants that are grown in warm, dry air. This spider-like insect is so small that you will need a magnifier to see them.

Damage: Damage presents itself as curled and dropping leaves, stunted growth, blackened buds and a grayish dusty appearance to plants. You will also observe webs on the underside of leaves.

Control: Lower air temperature and increase humidity around plants. The force of a strong spray of water may be used to dislodge insects from plant. Bonide Rose 3-N-1 Spray and Espoma ready to use sprays made from botanical extracts that are safe and effective in treating this insect.

Scale:

Adult scale insects on leaf.

Identification: Scale come in a variety of colors and may be either hard or soft shelled. Hard shell scale is often difficult to recognize as it often looks like a part of the plant stem or leaf.

Damage: Scale is a sucking insect will turn leaves yellow and cause them to drop. As with aphids, honeydew may also be a problem with scale.

Control: Both soft and hard scale are generally difficult to control because they have a defensive shield that protects them from insecticides. This insect is most easily controlled at the crawler stage before they develop their protective covering. At the crawler stage you can use the Ready-to-Use sprays such as Bonide Rose 3-N-1 Spray or Earth-tone Insect control from Espoma.

White Flies:

White Flies on leaf Identification: Triangular, white-bodied, winged insect, whiteflies congregate on the underside of plant leaves and disperse when plant is disturbed.

Damage: Insect larvae do the most damage by sucking the sap from houseplants. Whiteflies multiply at a very high rate and can severely weaken a plant causing yellowing and dropping leaves.

Control: Sticky Whitefly Traps from either Tangle-Trap or Safer may be used to trap adult whitefly. Bonide Rose 3-N-1 Spray is very effective in controlling Whitefly as is Earth-tone Insect control from Espoma, spraying the plant's potting soil.

Be sure to read pesticide labels entirely and carefully. Prevention is the best control for insect infestation. Always purchase healthy, pest free Orchids. When purchasing from an unreliable source you should keep new purchases in isolation for one month to be sure that they are not harboring pests. Use a sterile commercial potting mix when repotting plants. Regular garden soil is too heavy and can contain insects, disease and weed seeds. Inspect Orchids & Houseplants regularly for insects and disease. Isolate any plants that do not look healthy until you can diagnose and treat the problem.

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Pictures and information courtesy of Garden Center Solutions