Pests and Diseases On Orchids

Here at Kev’s Orchids, we try to grow as organically as is realistically possible. As we all know, even in an indoor setting such as ours, it is inevitable that any chemicals used will find their way into waterways by some method which is damaging to the environment.

The best way to avoid pest outbreaks is to be scrupulous about quarantining incoming plants for at lest two weeks, regardless of where they came from, but this is hardly practical for most people, us included. I’ll go through the pests most frequently encountered in my private collection a bit later. It is a mistake to try to eradicate every living thing in sight; balance is important, and each potted plant is an ecosystem. Pests are there to survive, not to spite us, though it can be difficult to keep sight of this when there are mealy bugs everywhere! Having grown orchids for 30 years, I have come to view pests as a fact of life and have taken the decision to not let them worry me too much. They might enter your collection with a prized new plant that you couldn’t live without, or with your weekly vegetable shop, on your clothes, or just through an open window.

Why are pests a problem? Well, a significant infection can weaken or even kill a plant and is very disfiguring as orchids are slow growing and damage takes a long time to grow out. Not only this, but they are also vectors for various bacterial and fungal diseases, as well as the rather more serious (but thankfully comparatively rare) viral infections.

If you aren’t sure what you’re dealing with, or you have trouble seeing what’s going on, I highly recommend either buying yourself a jeweller’s loupe (a small folding type of hand lens) or using the flashlight and camera to zoom in on the critters so you can see and describe them properly. This is especially useful for thrips and spider mites where the bugs themselves are so small you’ll probably notice the damage they cause before you spot the culprits.

The pests most often seen in indoor collections are as follows:

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