Spiral Whitefly: Reasons an Orchid has Them, and Their Fixes

Spiral whitefly is scientifically known as Aleurodicus Dispersus and can attack your orchids for various reasons, like favorable growing conditions, a food source for the bug, and the presence of fragrant and unkept plants.

Causes Spiral Whitefly on Orchids

If you need to know why your orchids have them and the fixes to eliminate them, do not worry any further. Read on as we inspect these reasons and help you find the ultimate solution.

What Causes Spiral Whitefly on Orchids?

The causes of spiral whitefly on orchids are the high humidity levels around them or the plants becoming a food source for the whitefly. It would also be due to the fragrance of the plant being attractive to them or the plant being a good hiding place away from predators.

– High Humidity Level

When the humidity level grows excessively, the spiraling whitefly thrives in such a condition or a medium, such conditions would be exemplary in Palm Beach, a town in South Florida. These bugs prefer attacking indoor orchids to outdoor orchids because of high humidity and lack of airflow, as they are tropical pests that grow actively in hot weather.

The temperature range that creates favorable conditions for them is between 68 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, which is almost the same as needed for orchids to grow. The key reason is that these pests are attracted to humidity because they need water to survive, and that is why you will see them on your orchids.

The humidity is because of your region and any water bodies, like swimming pools, fountains, and even humidifiers. You can have standing water in the corner of your house without you knowing, contributing to the humidity levels. Even the gutters are a source of an increase in humidity, and one of the key causes is when you are drying your clothes indoors, as this increases the room’s humidity level.

In this case, the pests also take advantage of the humid conditions to breed, and most orchids grow well in hot and humid conditions, creating growing conditions for the whitefly and they will stay properly gripped there. The flies are the most active during the daytime and get dispersed with the smallest amount of air, making it easier to spot them.

– Plants Are Easy Food Sources

You might also start to spot some whiteflies because they are attracted to young orchids as they are packed with a fresh source of food supply. The young and even mature plants have nitrogen-rich fertilizers in their potting medium, which serve the purpose of food for the bugs.

The reproductive parts of the developed plants are the most attractive for the bugs because they are more nutritious and comparatively have high levels of protein. Surrounding your orchids with plants like t warm-season vegetable plants for instance like tomato and eggplant plants increases the chances of whitefly infestation for your orchids. The neighboring plants act as their food source, allowing these pests to attack orchids and suck their sap out.

– Fragrant Plants in Your Garden

Even though ornamental plants brighten up a dull space and complement the style of your house, they can be why whiteflies are hovering around. You will even see whiteflies on orchids because of their irresistible scent; this is where they will thrive to them very severely.

For instance, the sweet and floral scent of your alliums lures the whiteflies into your house, and even when placed outside, providing the flies room to rest on your orchids. The fragrant flowers produce volatile organic compounds, which are organic chemicals, and this pollen would. In short, the sweet smell corresponds to the sensual receptors in the whiteflies and causes them to invade the orchids, and they will live in the surrounding of the orchid.

– Good Hiding Place From Predators

Orchids are often neglected in pruning and grow bushier daily, regardless of whether they are growing indoors or outdoors. The overgrown plants are a hiding spot for many insects, including these bugs.

Good Hiding Place From Predators

They hide under the extensive and layered orchid leaves from their natural enemies for as long as you leave them there and even lay their tiny white eggs there. As a result, you will soon find a Rugose spiraling whitefly family living somewhere in your orchids, and they would also be laying their eggs as well. They will grow there and multiply because the bugs generally feel safe and secure.

You may also find them hiding in the debris scattered at the base of the plants; in this case, they secrete honeydew on the leaves that attract ants, leading to another infestation. But do ants eat whiteflies? No, they do not, so don’t worry, they are not running away from ants, but rather they guard the Rugose spiraling whitefly against the natural predators.

How to Make the Spiral Whiteflies Go Away From Your Orchids?

You can make the spiral whiteflies go away from your orchids by increasing air circulation, using remedies like insecticidal soap and neem oil, including Rugose spiraling whitefly repelling plants in your garden, and getting rid of the bushy and overgrown branches to lessen the hiding spots for the whiteflies.

– Increase Air Circulation

Open the closed windows to improve air circulation and decrease humidity. Turning the air conditioner on or ventilation fans also help to increase the airflow. In case of if you have humidifiers, install dehumidifiers inside your furnace air handler to remove any moisture from the air and keep your rooms, but at the same time, make sure that you would aerate the roots and the soil as well, trying to keep it dry between each time you water it.

You can also lessen the humidity outdoors by adopting proper plant care practices. As orchid owners, we sometimes go overboard watering our plants, which leads to more humidity. The solution is to only water the plants according to the plant’s needs, once a week during winter and twice in summer.

Instead of drying your clothes indoors, try drying them outside on a clothes rack or a clothesline, especially in warm months. Furthermore, ensuring standing water in any corner of your house is also a way of tackling the never-ending bugs.

You must have plants that you have arranged closely to save space or create room for more plants. Maintain a safe distance between your orchids and the rest of the plants, so there is enough room for air to circulate and reduce humidity. In addition to this matter, you can also try to arrange them by moving the shade-tolerant plants to the shade and the sun lovers to the sunny spots for only a few hours, but of course place them in indirect light.

Another good way to reduce humidity is to bring charcoal briquettes into use. Place these pieces in the corners of your room to absorb the moisture from the air. You can place these briquettes in a container, a basket, or even on aluminum foil and replace them every few months.

– Use Insecticidal Soap or Neem Oil

Insecticidal soaps are the most effective pest control, especially on small-bodied, harmful insects, making spiraling whiteflies the perfect candidate. They suffocate the whiteflies by disrupting their cell membrane and removing the protective wax surface covering their bodies, resulting in dehydration and, ultimately, death of the pests that have been living there.

You can easily prepare them at home, and you need only three ingredients: two and a half tablespoons of vegetable oil, one to two tablespoons of liquid soap, and one gallon of distilled water. Mix all of them in a container until you have a soap-like solution, and then you can use it.

Use Insecticidal Soap or Neem Oil

Spray the infested orchids thoroughly with your prepared mixture, ensuring no spot is left behind. Spray the trickiest of spots, like the lower side of the leaves and on the debris, if any. You can only use a cotton swab to rub the mixture on the leaves for better results and to ensure you have covered every spot and try to clean out the area thoroughly.

Another alternative for insecticidal soap is neem oil. The spiraling whitefly treatment works best when sprayed in diluted form. Prepare the mixture by mixing one gallon of warm water with one teaspoon of liquid soap. This mixture will serve as an emulsifier and help of this oil mix quickly.

Next, transfer one to two tablespoons of neem oil to a spray bottle. Spray the mixture on a small leaf section to see how your orchid reacts. If your plant does not respond to the mixture, continue spraying it on the leaves, ensuring you cover the tips and lower side of the leaves. For best results, spray neem oil on your plants every two weeks, if you see it necessary as much.

You can also apply horticultural oils to your affected orchids. However, they are more effective for houseplants than for outdoor orchids. Apply the oil in diluted form, two percent of the oil mixed with water, on the leaves to eliminate the eggs and the developing flies.

– Whitefly Repelling Plants

Where plants attract whiteflies, some plants repel them; what you should do is place such repelling plants next to your troubled orchids is a fool-proof way of getting rid of whiteflies for good. For instance, pairing your orchids with plants such as lavender, bee balm, french marigold, chives, dill, basil, etc., repels whiteflies for a long time.

It is the strong scent of these plants that drive the bugs away. This is how they will no longer come along, and together with the given, you must also make sure that the given plant is growing well too, and they are pollinating flowers because this way it’s a guarantee that they are growing well.

– Trim Your Plants Regularly

Keeping your orchids trimmed at all times not only lessens the hiding spots for whiteflies but is also beneficial for the plant’s well-being. It also helps to improve the airflow. All you need are your gardening scissors and protective gloves, and make sure that they are sterilized.

Trim Your Plants Regularly

Along with the overgrown leaves and stems, there are many dead and damaged stems. Clip off the extra leaves and the damaged parts of the plant to give it an even and neat look and minimize the hiding spots for whiteflies. You can also hire an orchid professional to do the job for you, and this way you will be very efficient on the matter


Understanding why your orchid is invaded by spiral whitefly is simple now that you have read our article and even learned how to solve the issue. Before you leave, let’s sum up the key points we mentioned so that you are fully prepared to help your suffering plants:

  • You can tackle the Rugose Spiralling Whitefly by decreasing indoor and outdoor humidity.
  • Apply an insecticidal soap or a neem oil mixture to your plant’s leaves every two weeks to ensure the bugs don’t return.
  • You can pair your fragrant plants with spiraling whitefly-repelling plants to deter unwanted whiteflies.
  • When growing orchids outside, trim the overgrown branches and stems to reduce the hiding spots for the whiteflies.

After reading our recommendations here, you can save your orchids from the lingering whiteflies and ensure they never return!

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