The aphid is a tiny, soft-bodied insect that can vary in length from 1 to 10 millimetres. Aphids get their nourishment by feeding on the sap from the plants. In turn they produce a sticky substance called honeydew, which attracts ants who protect the aphids from predators.
Signs of Infestation
When you see your plant's leaves starting to wilt and even drop, you know it's infested by aphids. Aphids will be visible around the flower, especially where new growth occurs, and on the underside of leaves.
Aphids can be damaging to orchids in three particular ways
- First, they nourish on the sap of the orchid plants putting stress on the plant growth by preventing availability of the nutrients and important sugars.
- Secondly, aphids can be a carrier of viruses from plant to plant which are harmful for the orchids.
- Lastly, the honeydew that aphids leave behind is an excellent growing environment for harmful fungi.
To prevent an aphid infestation in your orchid plants, closely monitor them from time to time. Aphids reproduce rapidly and can be difficult to control once they are established. Check each plant closely for signs of aphids and make sure that you examine new buds for evidence of a population growing.
Methods of Control
Treatment of all pest attack starts with the following:
- Isolate the plant from other plants in your collection.
- Chemical treatment with following on all plants in your collection.
- For a small infestation, you can rub the scale with isopropyl alcohol on cotton to remove them.
When symptoms are detected, spraying with a pesticide such as the following are effective :
- Chemical name: Malathion
- Dosage: 1ml per litre of water
Keep the plants drier and isolate the plants to keep the infestation from spreading or appearing again. Isolate the plants and observe the plants for 1-2 weeks. And apply another round of control spray with any of the above chemicals. Spray the plants early morning and keep the plants dry after the spraying. Don't water the plants same day spray treatment is done.
- If you find a new pest, be sure to identify it correctly. Different pests require different control methods.
- The safest way to control aphids on orchids indoors is to use soaps or neem oil sprays, along with manual removal of adult aphids.