It’s essential to learn how to get rid of mealybugs on orchids to preserve the plant’s structure. One of the most common pests that feed on orchids, especially Phalaenopsis orchids, is mealybugs. Growers in the UK must address these infestations as early as possible because aside from being challenging to get rid of, they could eat up all the plant’s tissue and eventually lead to orchid death if not addressed immediately.
Mealybugs often appear as fluffy cotton on the leaves’ underside, roots, rhizomes, and pseudobulbs of the orchids. They produce honeydew-like secretions, which will make the affected area of the orchids sticky and more susceptible to other pests and vectors, thus, causing further damage to the plant.
3 Ways to Treat Orchid Mealybug Infestation
Once the grower spots a mealybug infestation in their orchids, they should immediately address the pest infestation to avoid damages. Quick action is essential because once mealybugs settle and establish on the orchid’s structure, they will be harder to eliminate. Before treating the plant, make sure to keep other plants away from it, as well, as mealybugs could also transfer and settle on the plants nearest to the infected orchids.
If you find yourself dealing with mealybug infestation, here are three ways to eliminate them:
Tip #1. Use rubbing alcohol (isopropyl)
Among the most common control method for mealybugs is the use of rubbing alcohol. You can use a cotton tip, cotton, or a soft toothbrush to apply isopropyl alcohol on the affected leaves. Be sure to rub alcohol on specific places like crotches, folds, plant bases, roots, and midrib areas, as mealybugs love to thrive in these spaces.
Be sure that when you’re treating orchid mealybug infestations that you’re using isopropyl alcohol. Ethanol and methanol can penetrate the leaves of the plant and cause further damage. After you’ve removed the visible mealybugs in your orchids, you’d need to rub alcohol on it again to remove the yellowish spots because these are newly-hatched mealybugs.
Tip #2. Use soap and water
Another mealybug treatment you’ll want to try is soap and water. Dilute three parts of liquid soap (or baby shampoo) with at least a cup of water and half a cup of rubbing alcohol. Mist your orchids with the soap and water solution and repeat the procedure for 2 to 3 days until all the mealybugs are gone.
The soap and water are among the most effective mealybug treatment as it helps break down the waxy barrier that protects the mealybugs. As you repeat the misting, their protective wall will gradually thin out and kill the pests.
Be sure to mist not just the leaf but also the roots of your orchids. Since mealybugs also love thriving on the plant’s roots, it’s vital to repot the orchids once in a while and clean out their roots to detect and eliminate mealybug infestation in that delicate area.
Tip #3. Use horticultural oils
Neem oil is a horticultural oil and a highly effective treatment that people commonly use to eliminate mealybugs in their orchids. However, unlike other pest treatments, neem oil won’t necessarily kill the bug. It interacts with the hormones involved in the development of mealybug larva and pupa, preventing them from growing into adult mealybugs.
That is why you should use neem oil and other control measures to eliminate all pests. Neem oils come in mists, and you have to spray the entire orchid with it. You also have to repeat the procedure after seven days to ensure that you have treated all the eggs, larvae, and pupa you may have missed during the first misting session.
Should You Grow Your Orchids in a Semipro Greenhouse?
Among the many benefits of growing orchids inside a semi-pro polytunnel is protection against pest infestation. With the area enclosed with protective fibreglass or plastic film, it would be harder for pests like mealybugs to infiltrate and infect the plants inside the greenhouse. Aside from that, a semipro polytunnel can also offer a lot of benefits for orchid growers.
Better control of humidity
Orchids love to thrive in humid areas. If you live in a UK place where it’s primarily cold all year, you can plant your orchids inside a polytunnel where you can control the temperature and humidity levels. It will help compensate for the water that the plants lost as they open their stomata to breathe.
Adequate ventilation is also essential for orchids. Placing your orchids inside a semi-pro polytunnel not only protects them from the strong winds but will also help them get the proper ventilation they need through the fans. You can keep the fans running continuously to ensure that the air movement will be constant throughout the semipro greenhouse.
Orchid care will be easier
Orchids are known to be challenging to maintain and take care of. But with greenhouses, care for orchids will more accessible since almost everything will be taken care of, including the humidity, temperature, moisture, and even the amount of sunlight that the orchids receive. With that, it will be easier for gardeners in the UK to establish and grow beautiful orchid blooms.
Bottom Line on Learning How to Get Rid of Mealybugs in Orchids
The most important thing to remember about mealybug orchid infestations is to address the problem immediately. Mealybugs can suck out the nutrients from the roots and leaves of your orchid plants, and if left unaddressed, it could lead to the death of your orchids. Now that you have an idea of how to get rid of mealybugs, it’s time to implement the methods in your UK garden or semi-pro polytunnel and make sure that your orchids will grow strong and produce beautiful flowers.