Mealybugs on orchids are ones that look like white fuzz, but they are far more dangerous to plants than most insects. To control them, apply essential oils, rubbing alcohol, soapy water, sulfur, and chemical insecticides, if organic ways do not work.
There are different ways that you can free from them, too, so continue reading as we discuss more than a dozen simple ways to get rid of mealybugs in detail.
What Causes Mealybugs on The Orchids?
The causes of mealybugs on orchids are having infested neighboring plants near them, and being excessively watered, or lastly, being excessively fertilized, as a result, the medium would be an inviting one for the pests to grow in their number.
To know whether the mealybugs have attacked your orchids, you should look for the fuzzy white stuff on them. If there is, check if they are insects and have elongated bodies. A Mealybug has a long segmented body that looks like cotton wax from a distance.
– Infested the Neighboring Plants
Mealybugs are one of the biggest enemies of the orchids that suck the juice out of them. To confirm whether your plants are under attack by them, carefully observe the stem and leaves, especially the leaves of the neighboring plants as well, because they would often come from the neighboring plants. If you see whiteness on orchids, then chances are they are mealybugs.
Moreover, these would also increase faster because they would come from the plant nursery as well when you are buying them. They are grayish-white and fuzzy in appearance, and on the same notion, these insects are always in the “mob.” You will most likely see more than two mealybugs together, which is why it is so easy for them to increase in their number.
The gray-white stuff could be anything, and this would be due to watering the plant excessively. In this case, you should check if the bodies are elongated and segmented to ensure they are mealybugs.
If yes, then they are mealybugs for sure, but, what causes mealybugs on orchids when they are watered so much? You would see that when you water it too much, the plant, will increase in their number because the medium would be a moist one for them to get attracted and grow.
– Excessive Fertilization
Furthermore, cracks in pots, adding more water, and over-fertilization can also encourage them to infest. This is because they would thrive when the nutrients in the soil are excessive.
As a result, you would see these species multiplying and growing with an excessive number. Due to the excessively fertilized soil, the medium would be inviting for these pests, as they would also be encouraged to lay eggs and grow as well.
How to Treat Mealybugs on Orchids Easily?
To control mealybugs, you should try blasting water with high pressure.
If the infestation is severe, apply essential oils, alcohol, sulfur, and wood ash. /you may also spray cayenne pepper, hot wax pepper, and soapy water. As a last resort, use chemical insecticides.
– Isolate the Infested Orchids and Blast Water
The easiest way to control mealybug infestation is to separate the infested orchid and spray water at high pressure. When you do this, they will fall on the potting soil or ground and won’t be able to move. You can then easily collect them and dispose of them far off.
In this case, you may use this method only if only a few mealybugs roam on the orchids, and if their number isn’t big enough. The reason is that collecting many insects is hard to do so you may overlook a few, and they can again start reproducing. This is why with high-pressured water you should spray it, as you have isolated, and be careful of damaging the plant in the long run.
– Change Infested Soil
Want to disrupt the life cycle of mealybugs so that you don’t see more of them in the future? Then change the infested soil. Mealybugs lay their eggs in the soil near the roots.
The simple reason is that one female mealybug can lay 150 to 200 eggs, most hatched after five to 10 days. When they become adults, the female ones will lay eggs again, and the cycle repeats, so, replace the soil as soon as you can.
For changing soil, apply water first and then use sterilized equipment, and make sure you don’t hurt the roots in doing so. Remove as much soil as you can and put it in a bag. After this, tightly pack this bag and throw it far away, especially away from other plants as they would jump from one another.
As orchids like acidic soil, you can then add potting orchid mix, which is why as you would be adding bark chips you would improve water retention while lowering the soil pH. This will benefit orchids a lot, because now it will be in a clean medium again.
– Get Help From Neem Oil
Neem oil is the best insecticide for orchids. It works on almost every harmful insect in your garden, not just mealybugs. That is why everyone should have it in their gardening cabinet.
You can purchase this essential oil from any nearby gardening store or online. The application instructions are printed on the bottle, which you should follow for better results. Generally, one tablespoon per gallon of water is enough to ward off insects.
The easiest way to apply it is by making a neem spray. Mist every part of the orchid with it, especially the underside of the leaves. Most gardeners spray on top of the plant, which is different from the right approach. You can also find many bugs inserting their mouthparts on the underside of the leaves in an infestation.
– Spray Some Alcohol
Want to know the best home remedy for mealybugs on orchids? It’s a mixture of isopropyl alcohol of 70 percent and 30 percent water. Now you have made some rubbing alcohol; you can also get it from any nearby store and use it to fight these pests.
When you spray the alcohol, make sure you keep the nozzle six inches away. The reason is that spraying at a close range can also hurt the orchids and the parts that have been infested. Also, mist it directly on the mealybugs you see, because you can moisten a cotton swab with rubbing alcohol and touch or even tap on them.
– Apply Soapy Water
Spraying insecticidal soap is one of the best ways to get the mealybugs population in control. You can get it from anywhere or make one at home; you have to fill a spray bottle with water and add a tablespoon of liquid soap. Shake the bottle and spray the leaves on both sides, stem, and soil.
When the soapy water gets in touch with the insects, it harms their outer body or coating. That is why you should spray it directly on them as much as possible for faster results. To your surprise, you will also see your garden getting free from all the other insects, including spider mites, scale insects, etc.
– Try Diatomaceous Earth
When you see mealybugs on orchid roots or the soil, then add Diatomaceous earth, or DE. It does not negatively affect humans or plants, but the pests hate it. DE hurts when it gets in touch with the insects like mealybugs, and that is its job as a repellent solution
It damages the exoskeleton and waxy coating, which leads to dehydration. When this happens, a mealybug cannot survive, and this is how it would target the pest and get rid of them. However, now, if you want to prevent mealybugs from coming back again, then you must follow them along with applying mealybugs treatment to control the infestation more easily.
It would be best to never overwatered orchids as doing this can invite many bugs, including mealybugs, as they like a humid environment much more than dryness. So, they are more likely to lay eggs there than in dry soil, so you should also always maintain your orchids because it is because more nutrients lead to lush green vegetative growth.
Now after you have gotten rid of them, you must aim to keep the area clean, because the dirt around the orchids can also invite pests like mealybugs to attack. Cut off any weeds you see; most bugs can hide under them after applying Diatomaceous earth, as they may also enter the plant again from the crack in the pot.
So, when you see the pot is damaged, we suggest you transplant it to a new container. Furthermore, sometimes the bugs can enter your garden from a newly purchased plant. The chances are the nursery did not take care of it properly, and now it is the launchpad of mealybugs.
– Release Predatory Insects
Did you know that you can use insects to get rid of insects? It could sound clearer, but it sure works. Let us explain. Some beneficial insects feed on harmful insects (like mealybugs), reducing their infestation. In the end, both of you will be happy. The good insects get to eat their meal, and you have a mealybug-free garden.
The predatory insects that love to feast on mealybugs are ladybird beetles, lacewings, and wasps. You can also buy them online easily or from any big gardening store. Just release them in your garden, and they will work their magic.
– Add Some Sulfur Powder
Sulfur powder is also super effective in bringing the insect population down. Just like DE, it also cuts the exoskeleton of bugs, making it impossible for them to survive; of course, there’s much more to it.
Adding sulfur powder is another hidden benefit that most people don’t know. Orchids like slightly acidic potting soil with a pH between 5.5 to 6.5, which is why adding sulfur also reduces the pH, making the surroundings ideal for the orchid roots. So, your orchids will eliminate mealybugs, and the soil will be more favorable.
Ensure you add only a little sulfur powder, which can damage the plants. Furthermore, excessive sulfur can also lower the soil pH below 5.0, which is bad for orchids. So, only sprinkle this powder and wait at least one week for the desired results, and they will be gone.
– Spray Wood Ash Solution
Another substance that improves the soil and gets rid of mealybugs is wood ash. Add a handful to a bowl and then apply two cups of water, and now mix and dilute it thoroughly and fill the mixture in a spray bottle. Then, sprinkle it on all orchid parts, especially the underside of leaves and stems.
You can also apply some dust on the visible mealybugs directly, and you will see that it is helpful because the carbonates in it repel insects, so you will see all of them running when you add the dust. If mealybugs get in touch with the wood ash, their internal pH gets imbalance, and now, as a result, they will start to die.
Remeber that you may use wood ash because its potassium and carbonates encourage orchids to bloom more. So, when you add this wood dust, you will end up with a pest-free garden and stronger orchids.
– Use Cayenne Pepper Spray
Another effective way to deal with the mealybugs organically is by spraying orchids with cayenne pepper. Nobody likes to be sprayed with peppers, and insects are no exception. The spicy scent drives them away.
However, there needs to be more scientific evidence of how effective it is against mealybugs, but it sure can ward off insects but not every one of them. Moreover, many people end up hurting themselves while applying cayenne pepper spray, so try to protect yourself, and as it can go into the eyes or cause itching when it falls on the hands.
– Boric Acid Can Work Too
Many gardeners prefer to use boric acid whenever insects start to grow in numbers. It has sharp edges that make a deep cut to the exoskeleton of the bug just as the other solutions would. As a result, you will see that the mealybugs cannot survive and ultimately die shortly.
The best part is that boric acid is not harmful to humans, plants, and pets, which means that you are not placing the life of your plant in great danger. All you have to do is to mix one tablespoon of boric acid and add it to two cups of water. Mix thoroughly and then pour the mixture into the soil or mist the whole orchid.
– Use Hot Pepper Wax Spray
Pepper wax spray is also a good choice to get the mealybug population in check. It is also easily available from any gardening store at an affordable price. Follow the instructions, and its effect will easily stay up to two to three weeks.
Make sure to mix it with water first, and also, it is important only to add pure water as mixing hard water can cause irreversible damage to the orchids. Moreover, never add any other chemical or essential oil to it as well.
– Spray Chemical Insecticides
Sometimes, the infestation is so severe that gardeners have no choice but to use chemical orchid bug killers. Even when you tried different organic ways to deal with them, now you can go ahead and pray the chemicals, if you see that the plant is not doing so well, as the bugs have spread immensely.
Chemical insecticides are quick and can wipe out an insect infestation in no time. However, they are expensive, and you must also follow proper precautionary measures when applying them.
Put on goggles and a mask to protect your eyes and mouth. Moreover, we also advise you to wear gloves, as chemical fumes can cause an allergic reaction. You should also not go to that spot where you spray for a few hours. It is because the residues remain in the air, which can cause breathing problems.
It is super important to get rid of mealybugs as they suck the juice from the different parts of the orchids, which makes them weak. In this article, we discussed different ways to control their infestation, so let’s now look at the key points of the whole article to refresh important details:
- Neem oil and isopropyl alcohol solution are the most followed methods to control the bug population.
- You can also add sulfur, DE, wood ash, and boric acid (but with care, as they can impact the soil).
- Sprays like Cayenne pepper, wax pepper, soapy water, etc., are good ways to protect your orchids from mealybugs.
- If insect infestation is out of hand or you want quicker results, use commercially made chemical insecticides.
Now you know why these bugs are coming and what measures you can take to drive them away. Follow any of these ways, and your garden will become free from mealybugs!
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