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Orchid is an exotic flower native to the tropics. In a temperate climate, this crop requires special conditions, so it can only be grown indoors. But even in a city apartment, pests can infect a flower.
One of the most common is the mealybug. Description of the insect, signs of its appearance and methods of control are described below.
What is it: description and photo
The mealybug is a close relative of the scale insect, since it also belongs to the hemiptera insects. This pest feeds on plant juices, gradually weakening them.
reference! The people call mealybug white lice for their characteristic color and body shape.
Three types of mealybugs are commonly found on orchids.:
- Citrus: bodies of females are colored pinkish. They leave a sticky mark on the leaves and inflorescences. Females live 1 season and begin to lay eggs 2 weeks after hatching. Males are brown, can fly and live no more than 5 days.
- Bristly: Females are reddish with long hairs at the back of the body. Males are colored the same, but larger in size.
- Seaside: Females are gray-pink, have an oblong body. Males are 2 times smaller, they can fly.
Signs of defeat
All types of mealybugs are characterized by a white bloom on the body.... Thanks to this, it is not difficult to notice the pest on the surface of the plants. But, in addition to the visual presence of a pest, there are other signs of its presence:
- A cobweb that females lay on the leaves and stems of the flower.
- Sticky drops on the surface of the leaf plates.
- Deformation of leaves, stems and inflorescences.
In addition, plants affected by the pest become less resistant to pathologies, therefore they are often affected by various rot and bacterial diseases.
Why can a plant be affected?
In a city apartment, pests attack crops less often than in open ground, but in some cases insects can still appear. For instance:
- The mealybug settles on an orchid if the temperature is not suitable for the flower or the soil in the pot is too wet.
- In addition, damaged leaves should be removed in time, as they can become a source of spread of the pest.
- It often happens that a plant is infected with a pest already in the store, so when buying, you need to carefully examine the flower.
It must be remembered that a well-tended orchid by itself produces substances that repel the mealybug. Accordingly, only a weakened plant can become a victim of a pest.
How is it dangerous?
The main danger of the mealybug is that it feeds on orchid juices, gradually weakening the flower. In addition, the female pest covers the leaves and stems with sticky cobwebs. It spoils the appearance of the flower and prevents it from breathing. The insect is able to gnaw through microscopic holes in the leaves, which weakens the plant as a whole.
As a rule, the pest settles on weakened crops.but its effect makes the flower more susceptible to fungi and bacteria. If measures are not taken in time, the orchid may die altogether.
How not to fight at home?
Do not think that the mealybug will be limited to one plant and if you take an infected orchid out to a cool balcony, the pest will die.
Adults really do not tolerate low temperatures, but the larvae are able to hibernate and wake up when the plant is again warm. They can also remain in the ground. Therefore, having noticed a worm on an orchid, you should immediately take measures so that the pest does not spread to other flowerpots.
What treatments and treatments are there?
If a mealybug appears on the orchid, do not expect the pest to disappear on its own... You definitely need to fight with him. Otherwise, the insects will spread to other flowers and the damage will be much worse.
How to withdraw using folk methods?
Folk ways to combat the pest work only if the worm has just appeared on the orchid. The obvious advantage of these methods is that they are environmentally friendly and do not harm the environment.
Effective folk remedies for controlling mealybugs are considered:
- Garlic: 5 large cloves of garlic are chopped and poured with a liter of hot water. The mixture is infused for 24 hours, then filtered and used to spray the affected specimens.
- Soap-alcohol solution: 20 g of laundry soap (72%) is diluted in a liter of warm water and a tablespoon of medical alcohol is added. All the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, and the leaves and other parts of the orchid affected by the worm are wiped with the resulting composition.
If the pests have spread too much, do not waste time on folk remedies. A massive invasion of pests can only be eliminated by chemical preparations.
How to treat and how to cure with store-bought remedies?
Commercial insecticides are considered harmful, but their toxicity is so low that they are not capable of causing harm to humans. In the case of insect pests, such products work flawlessly. In the fight against mealybugs on orchids, such preparations have positively proven themselves.:
- Fitoverm or Vermitic: means of contact and intestinal action. When an insect enters the body, they paralyze its nervous system and the individual simply cannot eat.
- Aktara: an insecticide that has a detrimental effect on most indoor plant pests.
- Actellic - a drug that is used in cases where flowers are massively affected by pests.
Any of these drugs have a positive result after the first use. However, if the desired effect was not achieved, after 7-10 days, the treatment is repeated, but using a different agent.
Struggle measures: how to get rid of it?
Mealybug is a pest that spreads very quickly, therefore, to completely eliminate it, you need to take appropriate measures:
- Plant isolation: This measure will only help if the symptoms of the pest are not visible on other plants. Otherwise, all infected instances will have to be isolated.
- Removing buds: an orchid, like any other houseplant, spends all its strength and nutrients on flowering. Therefore, if symptoms of pest damage are visible on the culture, it is better to remove the buds. This will help the flower quickly regain its strength after fighting off parasites.
- Cleaning and disinfection of the plant: Regardless of the drug used to combat the mealybug, it is advisable to wipe the leaves and stems of the orchid with soapy water or potassium permanganate diluted with water. This will help disinfect the plant, strengthen its immune system and prevent further infection.
- Insecticide treatment: flowers will have to be sprayed with chemicals if the worm has spread strongly, that is, if not single individuals are found on the plant, but whole colonies of the pest.
Prevention of subsequent infection
In order to prevent mealybug infestation of the orchid, it is much easier to adhere to the rules of prevention. These include:
- Regular watering: Do not allow the top layer of the substrate to dry out. It must be moistened to a depth of 1-3 cm. If moisture has accumulated in the pan, it must be drained.
- Cleaning the pot: If dry leaves or other plant residues have accumulated in the orchid container, they must be removed. They can become a place for the growth of mealybug larvae.
- Hygiene: The shelves containing the orchid pots are regularly rinsed with hot water. This will help stop the spread of larvae and adults.
Mealybug is one of the most common indoor plant pests. Despite the danger that this insect poses, you can fight it using both folk and chemical means.
Read more about the mealybug and methods of dealing with it in this video: