Orchid bugs in soil, with a few exceptions, can harm the general health of orchid plants. A large infestation of many of these pests will cause devastating effects on your plants. Living in the soil and gradually feeding on your orchid roots, you may be unable to tell they’re there until it is almost too late.Orchid Bugs in Soil

This article will focus on what causes orchid bugs to appear in your potting mixes and the best treatment practices for them.

What Are the Causes of Orchid Bugs In Soil?

The causes of orchid bugs in soil are poor drainage, excessive watering, a contaminated potting mix, and inadequate sterilization around the soil. In addition, bugs can also infest the soil due to surrounding pest infestation, low humidity, and overcrowded plants.

The following are the major causes of bugs like spider mites, symphyla, oribatid mites, psocids, scales, fungus gnats, mealybugs, and springtails in your soil. They will come and infest your soil if the conditions are applicable for them to grow in the surrounding.

– Poor Drainage

Inadequate drainage is one of the main reasons orchid pests appear in the soil. Orchid roots are prone to rotting when exposed to too much moisture; as a result, they need a medium that drains properly in order to grow and perform well.

When the water doesn’t drain well, it lets the content collect around their roots, which fosters the growth of many tiny white bugs in orchid soils. These insects, like Symphyla, can damage roots by feeding on decomposing organic debris, leading to a full-blown infestation.Causes of Orchid Bugs in Soil

It’s difficult to see the effects of these pests right away. However, you’ll notice your plant’s becoming stunted or slowly wilting without any visible cause over time. It’s best to eliminate these pests as soon as you notice them, to save your orchids from a slow damaging process.

– Overwatering

Overwatering is a typical error that many orchid growers make, and it can unintentionally draw pests to the soil. Compared to other houseplants, orchids frequently require a drier atmosphere and have special watering requirements.

Excessive watering will create a damp environment that encourages bug infestations and will hamper the roots’ capacity to absorb oxygen, and this is when pests will increase. The extra moisture from overwatering will promote the development of fungi and other microbes, which is essentially food for many soil-dwelling bugs to come and infest.

Some pests like Oribatid mites will appear in your soil mix as an indication that there’s something wrong with your watering frequency. Other bugs like Springtails may also appear in your soil. They are harmless bugs that you can find in potting mixes.

They feed on decaying matter in the soil and do their business without harming your plants, but you will see them increasing. Springtails in orchid bark are easily identified as they’re flighty insects, always ready to jump away.

– Contaminated Potting Mix

The type and quality of potting mix you use for your orchids is another reason you may find bugs in your soil. The quality of potting soil you use directly influences its susceptibility to bugs.Orchid Bugs in Soil Solved

Sometimes the potting mix may already contain contaminants such as eggs, larvae, or adult bugs that will harm and grow in their number. These eggs and larvae can develop to cause infections in otherwise healthy plants.

Your potting mix can either be contaminated from the moment you purchase it from your local supply store or as a result of your negligence in storing them properly. You also need to pay particular attention to where you source your potting mix and where and how you store them.

– Inadequate Sterilization

Your gardening tools can harbor the most common orchid pests, including scale insects. This makes it easy for these pests to get into the soil and on your plants during usage, after which they can complete their development process and spread.

Many of these bugs are terrible for your orchids because they suck the sap from leaves, depleting their nutrients, multiply rapidly, and lay their eggs in the soil; hence they grow and infest quicker as the growing medium will be inviting. They are also dangerous because they spread from plant to plant quickly and have a short life cycle, making them much more challenging to eliminate.

– Pest Infested Surroundings

The pests you notice in your soil may have been in the environment for a long time. Many weeds and companion plants can harbor opportunistic pests, or even pests that attack your particular species of orchids. In short, the presence of bugs in your orchids’ immediate surroundings can contribute to soil infestations.

Insects like aphids, mealybugs, and scales can reside on nearby plants and eventually find their way to the orchid’s soil, causing an infestation. Large-scale infestations of these kinds of pests can be devastating, so it’s best to eliminate them as soon as possible.

– Low Humidity

Many orchid species prefer environments with high humidity levels because they mirror their native tropical habitat. However, humidity can sometimes drop below the optimal levels, especially during the dry seasons, or in warm indoor settings. When this happens, it attracts major insects like spider mites and scales.

– Overcrowding

Overcrowding plants provide an ideal breeding ground for spider mites and other pests, especially in humid environments. The limited space between your plants will encourage improper airflow, which helps many problems to spread faster, and it would spread the issue from one plant to the other.

The proximity between plants creates an environment where pests can quickly spread or jump from one orchid to another as their population grows. Overcrowding also makes it easier for these pests to move from one potting mix to another in search of more nutrition.

What Are Ways to Get Rid of Bugs in Orchid Soil?

Ways to get rid of bugs in orchid soil is to place them in a bright location and try to repot and change the soil. You should also use fungicides, spray water and drain them, adjust the humidity, use insecticidal soap, and horticultural oils, or place sticky traps.Solutions for Orchid Bugs in Soil

– Place the Plant in a Bright Location

Symphyla bugs will not respond to insecticides as they’re not insects, so you will need to get creative to get rid of them. These bugs are scared of bright light, so exposing them to it will eliminate them fast, and when they see a brighter location, they will be freed.

Since they reside in the soil, close to the roots, exposing the roots to bright light will make them look for a more suitable living and breeding space. The best way to eliminate aphids is by shocking them with harsh temperatures.

– Try Repotting and Changing the Soil

You can also repot your orchids to get rid of them. During the repotting process, you must remove all traces of these bugs from your plants before putting them in a fresh potting mix.

As a result, you need to be careful during the process of repotting. This is why you must make sure that you get thee right potting mix for your orchids. When you notice this issue, you can remove the pot, and the soil from the orchid roots, and change the pot as you place it in a new medium, giving the orchid a new chance to thrive.

– Use Fungicides

If you have an Oribatid mite infestation, you can eliminate them easily by removing the potting mix and treating your orchid with a bactericide or fungicide. This will not adversely affect the bugs but kill the bacteria or fungi present, creating an unconducive living area for the mites.

– Use Water and Drawn Them

Another easy method you can use to eliminate them is by drowning them. You can do this by soaking your plant for a while, after which you should drain it properly, to prevent an attack from other pests that will thrive in this kind of environment.

– Adjust The Humidity

You’ll need to treat what attracts them; in this case, it is a very humid potting mix. You can eliminate the bugs around your orchid’s potting soil by drying out your potting mix and keeping humidity low.

They will die after a few days because they can’t survive extremely low humidity. Also, ensure to allow some time for your soil mix to dry out in between watering sessions to prevent them from showing up in the first place.

– Use Insecticidal Soap

Scales can be difficult to eliminate as they spread quickly. However, there are a few fail-proof methods you can use. You can remove them manually by washing the affected leaves with soap and water.Insecticidal Soap for Orchids

Avoid harsh soaps; use safer insect killing soaps like Bonide insecticidal soap and Natria insecticidal soap. Moreover, you can also treat your orchids using rubbing alcohol. You need to repeat any treatment you choose several times for it to be effective.

You can begin to isolate the affected plants to treat a mealybug infestation to stop the spread of mealybugs on the orchid. After this, you can wash the bugs off the leaves with hot water and treat your plants with insecticidal soaps.

For this process, you will need to mix your insecticidal soap and water in a spray bottle for easier application. Once you have this, spray your entire plants with the mixture, making sure to get the tight spots and underside of leaves.

– Use Horticultural Oils

You need to be quick in taking action as soon as you notice these pests on your plants, as they also multiply very quickly. You can treat your orchids with Neem oil to eliminate these bugs. Spray the oil all over infested plants every three days until no traces of pests are left.

It also helps to repot your orchid to eliminate the problems hiding in the potting mix. While using this treatment method, your plants may become extra sensitive to bright light, so you will have to relocate your plants to a dim light setting to prevent leaf damage.

This will help you in the long run, but make sure not to place the orchid in excessive direct light, as it will harm it. To eliminate mites, you can also treat your plants with other chemicals like azadirachtin, pyrethrins, and horticultural oils.

– Place Sticky Traps

You can set traps like sticky tabs to catch these flying insects. Once they attempt to jump from one spot to another, they’ll get trapped by the tabs, reducing their population over time. In addition, you would see them stuck with all ease and this will also be a way that you won’t be using any chemicals.

While this method will cause little disturbance to your plants, it is less effective than repotting your orchids with materials that can slow decay, like coconut fiber and charcoal. As a preventive measure, allow the potting mix to dry out slightly between watering sessions to keep it from being constantly humid.


For an orchid lover, bugs in the soil can be very annoying, especially when they visibly affect the plant’s health and appearance. To recap:

  • The most common orchid bugs in the soil include Oribatid mites, Symphyla, Aphids, Mealybugs, and Springtails.
  • Orchid bugs present in the soil aren’t always harmful to the plants. You can intensify your efforts by applying diatomaceous earth, and, this will really get rid of aphids effectively.
  • Most of these bugs will respond to treatment with insecticidal soaps and alcohol.
  • Sticky yellow tabs can help in eliminating flying pests like Gnats.
  • Terrible soil mix drainage is one of the major reasons you may notice bugs around your plants.

Even with the most stringent preventive measures, an infestation is always possible. There’s no reason to fret, though, as you can use any of the treatment methods for each problem pest in the article above.

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