Orchid Health: Bugs

Help! My orchid has bugs (scales, mealybugs, mites and aphids)! What should I do?

Copyright American Orchid Society

To prevent pests

  • Apply GET OFF ME! ever time you water your orchid and you can put up sticky traps near your orchids. If you don’t have this you can sprinkle a bit of cinnamon near the base of your plant.
  • Putting your orchids on humidity trays helps prevent pest also because pest really like dry environments (normally found in our homes).
  • Also don’t allow your orchids to be near fresh fruit, in say your kitchen, this causes both flies and the citrus can deteriorate your orchid.

To TREAT pest

Okay, so you have found really gross little bugs on your orchid! Pests can also be difficult to control indoors. If you have pets or children it can also be disconcerting to use pesticides to control these issues.

Don’t panic! The best defense and offense I have found is GET OFF ME! Pest Control Spray made from cinnamon, applied to the affected areas, which I purchased from www.rePotme.com. This is a safe substance to use indoors.

Here’s what to do;

REMOVE YOUR PLANT FROM OTHER PLANTS – you don’t want bugs to move from one plant to another.

  • Wash pests off with water/mild soap solution and pick off bugs.
  1. I use Washme from http://www.repotme.com to wash leaves if you don’t have this use FEW drops of mild soap detergent on the plant (don’t use too much soap) mixed with a bunch of water and spray it all over the plant (underside of leaves etc.) and then re-wash with clean fresh wet paper towel.
  2. Don’t reuse the paper towels – as they have bugs on them.
  3. You can also use the spray nozzle (if you have it) on your kitchen sink to spray off any extra bugs and mild soap solution.
  • Make a solution of 50% rubbing alcohol/water and dab/rub it on the pests. Or for tricky spots you can use straight rubbing alcohol but dab it after with a paper towel and/or rinse it with water so it’s doesn’t burn the plant when the alcohol evaporates. I recently burned all my leaves by using straight alcohol and not following my own advice. 
  1. You can use a Q tip dipped in rubbing alcohol to get into the hard to reach spots.
  2. I really love to use diluted Neem oil in between alcohol solution days. This works by suffocating the bugs and is also used as a leaf cleaner.
  3. You can also spray the 50% solution all over your plant (underside of leaves etc.). Again rinse after. 
  4. Repeat this every few days / once a week until pest are gone.
  • Soaking the entire plant, in water, helps too because the bugs can’t breathe. If you do this then you should repot your orchid to remove all the infected bug area.

Hope that helps,

Hannah

Feel free to leave comments or questions here and you can always email me at myfirstorchid@gmail.com with pictures of your orchid.

 

28 Comments on “Orchid Health: Bugs

    • Hi,

      If it were me I would soak the whole plant in a bucket of water to kill them. Then I would repot all of them with fresh mix making sure to wash off every last ant.

      Hannah

    • Hi,

      I have never planted just a stem. There is a way to cultivate them but I have never done it. I always plant ones that have a root system.

      Hannah

  1. Hi Hannah we had an infestation of ants into my orchids last week. I didn’t realise until I added water to the humidity tray and accidentally tipped some into the plant. Wow – squillions of ants came rushing out. They’d obviously started a nest. We hurriedly put the pot into a sink of water and ran the tap but of course it made no real difference. Heaps of the ants congregated along the flower spike. Panic set in – ants running everywhere. Hurriedly googled and found the soapy water solution. A bucket full of soapy water and a good dunking and the ants were dead almost instantaneously. We had to dunk about 5 pots in total LOL and most of the plants had flower spikes. Nearly a week later and thankfully no more ants and …no sign of bud blast – I have my fingers crossed that all will be well. What a saviour the warm soapy water is.
    Judy 🙂

  2. Hi Hannah,

    I have an orchid that I believe has mealy bugs on them and I don’t know what to do to get them completely off.

    So, about 2-3 weeks ago I re-potted my orchid and now after watering it the second time (10 days after the first) I am starting to see white fuzz, which after some research I am guessing are mealy bugs. There are some at the top of the root and the bottom as I examined the roots that I can see, through the potting mix. And oddly enough there is also a root that looks dark and mushy. I thought I had cut all the rotten ones off when I re-potted it a few weeks ago but now it doesn’t seem as though I did.

    Now when I first saw the mealy bugs I watered the plant with physan mixed in the water hoping that would kill them, then I tried my get off me spray but then they returned.

    So now I was thinking of pouring the physan directly on the roots, but I heard sometimes that can kill the plant, or I was going to use rubbing alcohol (another method I read about), and the third option which I thought may be the best is I think I may have to re-pot and take better care while re-potting this time. However since I just re-potted them 3 weeks ago would re-potting again be too much for the plant to handle? Please let me know what you think is the best thing for me to do.

    My plant is starting to grow a new leaf and a bud for the flowers as well so I would really hate to lose this orchid.

    Thanks
    Christina

    • I am so sorry that is so frustrating. If it were me I would repot it and before that soak the entire plant in a diluted Physan mixture to suffocate and kill all the bugs. I would do this for like 5 minutes. Submerge the entire plant in a water and Physan mixture.

      The problem is that this may stunt the new bloom shoot but hopefully not if its really small.

      Also isolated it from your other orchids so it doesn’t spread.

      Those bugs are super super tricky to get rid of. Are you sure it’s not fungus?

      You can send me a picture at myfirstorchid@gmail.com if you like,

      Hannah

  3. I was given a very poorly looking phal this week with a huge infestation of scales, among other problems…I’ve repotted it, removed the most infested leaf, and used a soft cloth to wipe off most of the bugs. Two of the smallest leaves are plumping up slowly, but I’m concerned about tearing the still-wrinkly leaves if I try to remove the last of the bugs.

    Do you have any thoughts on how to soften the bugs enough for me to wipe them off? Also, I’m wondering how long I should wait to bring the plant home (it’s at my office right now) once the bugs are gone? I’ve read that scale can be airborne (!!) and I don’t want to endanger the rest of my collection.

    • I just had this issue! What I did was spray cinnamon or you can sprinkle it around the mix. I washed the leaves with a very mild detergent called WashMe from repotme.com (you can make your own) and the I wiped them down with Neem Oil from repotme but you can find that anywhere. Maybe Amazon.

      I would wiped the bugs every other day until they are gone. I got all mine off the first day by really soaking it with the wash and then generously wiping the oil on. The leaves became more malleable bc they were wet so they didn’t tear.

      Worst case scenario if they were totally everywhere I would soak the entire plant in diluted Physan 20 from http://www.repotme.com to kill all the bugs. Maybe like a soak for two minutes.

      I have no affiliation with repotme I just like the company a lot:)

      Hannah

  4. Hi Hannah
    I just noticed these little tiny mites near my orchid. I just noticed them because they stick out when they are crawling on my wall! I can’t really see them in the plant because they are so tiny. Smaller than a grain of rice. How would you recommend I treat it? Right now I have my orchid on a tray in a clear plastic. Can I sprinkle cinnamon by the leaves? There’s no other way these bugs are coming from anywhere else. Thanks for your help.

    • Hi,

      If they are coming from your orchid then they could be mites (have you googled pics of mites on an orchid and compared?) . Are they white?

      If they are coming from your orchid I would repot your orchid and soak your orchid before repotting it in a bucket of water for like ten minutes to suffocate the bugs.

      Then I would pour half alcohol have water on all of it to kill the rest of them.

      Cinnamon is a natural fungicide but I don’t think it will do anything for bugs.

      You can always send me a picture at myfirstorchid@gmail.com

      Hope that helps,

      Hannah

  5. Hi Hannah,

    I just got a new phalaenopsis today and I saw a few tiny spider looking bug as it had legs like spider and the body was clear. I think these spider looking bugs maybe coming from the bark mixtures. Whatever bugs I saw I had used a q-tip and dabbed them with rubbing alcohol and then as you had suggested sprayed the leaves with mild detergent solution and I wiped it clean with paper towel and then sprayed it with a 50% alcohol/water solution on the leaves. I also sprinkled cinnamon on the base of the plant. Should I spray the base of the orchid with the alcohol/water solution as well?

    Fel

      • Hi hannah,

        Thanks for replying.

        I will spray the base with the alcohol solution as well. They’re definitely not mealy bugs. I think they look more like spider mites as I was trying to find pics of them online. Would it be safe to spray “daily” around the base with the alcohol solution until there’e no further signs of these pests?

        I thought about repotting the mixture with clean imperial orchid mix from repotme.com but the orchid is in bloom and I didn’t want to disturb the plant. The orchid is not heavily infested with these bugs as I see the occasional one here and there. Any thoughts on this?

        Thanks again Hannah

        Fel

      • Felicia,

        I think if there is just a few then I would gently get those…

        If it was an infestation I would repot it immediately and soak the entire plant in a bucket of water thus drowning the little boogers!!

        You can spray it as much you like just don’t overdue it…

        Hannah

  6. Hi Hannah,

    Have you ever heard of Growers Health Spider Mite Killer? I read that it is organic and kills on contact?

    Thanks in advance,

    Michele

  7. Hi Hanna,

    Thank-you for all your research!

    It is much appreciated!

    Michele

  8. Michele,

    Thanks for the feedback. I update the main post (and the comment I left before) on bug health to make it more detailed… Would you check it out and see if it makes sense. If you have any questions or think I could make it more clear let me know…

    I eventually would like to add every type of normal bug that gets in orchids but I don’t have time (job plus small child at home) at the moment and generally you do the same stuff for all bugs.

    Thanks again,

    Hannah

  9. Hi Hannah,

    Did you ever treat mites by
    1- Wiping both sides of the leaves with Get off Me.
    2- Spraying the base with Get Off Me.
    -Do these more or less at each washing.-
    Without repotting?
    Michele

    • Michele,

      I have never actually had a big problem with my orchids – thankfully!!

      I would wash all the leaves with washme from repotme or you can use a gentle VERY diluted dishwasher soap solution.

      I would also maybe soak the entire plant in water to kill them all – if it was time to repot them.

      I would then use rubbing alcohol solution (50% water and 50% rubbing alcohol) directly on the leaves (you can even use a q-tip dabbed in full alcohol for really bad spots) and spray all around entire plant.

      I then would spray getoffme around the base of plant. I normally spray mine around the outer rim so it’s not near the base root.

      Hannah 🙂

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