Tiny silver bugs in orchid are common to find as well as an unpleasant sight. Unlike mealybug infestation, these tiny white orchid pests rarely cause harm to plants.
However, they can feed on the organic matter in the roots of overly moist plants and crawl into your homes, where they can cause plenty of damage. If you have a large infestation in your garden but don’t know how to deal with it, we are here to help you figure it out with this post.
- What Are The Reasons To Have Tiny Silver Bugs in Orchid?
- How to Control the Tiny Silver Bug Found in Orchid?
What Are The Reasons To Have Tiny Silver Bugs in Orchid?
The reasons to have tiny silver bugs in an orchid are due to the conducive environment that is around the plant, and because they will be attracted to the nutrients that come from the sap of the orchid. Lastly, because of the lack of natural predators around the plant.
Silver bugs are minuscule insects with a distinctive shiny gray appearance. Also known as soil mites in some cases, these insects typically measure 0.25 to 0.5 inches in length and have extensive bodies with three appendages and long antennae.
If allowed, these creepy houseplant insects can set up a shop in your orchid. While they thrive in damp environments, they can survive in any climate. An apparent sign you have an infestation is when you see these creatures crawling along the leaves of your plants. Others tell signs include; seeing tiny bite marks on the foliage and small yellow stains on the leaves.
– Conducive Environment
These bugs are attracted to your potting mix because it finds the surrounding environment favorable. It isn’t attracted to your orchid; on the contrary, to the decaying organic matter and moisture in the potting mix. A higher temperature and moisture level presents the perfect habitat for these minuscule insects to feed and multiply, and this is why they will come and feel safe when they infest.
– Attracted to the Nutrients
Orchids form sugary saps that silver bugs are attracted to, so they feed on the sap by puncturing through the soft tissues and sucking the sap out of them, as this is the harm that they cause. Typically, orchids have tender tissues, making them prone to silver pest infestation. Not only do silver bugs feed on the tissues, but they also reproduce by laying eggs.
– Lack of Natural Predators
Orchids are usually grown in a controlled environment where natural predators like ladybugs are absent. This allows the silver pest to proliferate without obstruction, and this is why you can identify these bugs by their appearance.
Silver bugs have a distinctive metallic gray appearance and slender bodies with three appendages and long antennae, and you will see them crawling around your orchid. They are wingless insects and can be seen crawling along the leaves that you would spot around your orchid because they don’t have enough predators to eat them.
While these wingless houseplant pests are common to orchids, they don’t directly harm them. They typically feed on decaying organic matter in the potting medium. Their presence typically proves how rich an environment is in organic matter. This is unlike scale insects that eat the roots, leaves, and stems.
How to Control the Tiny Silver Bug Found in Orchid?
To control the tiny silver bug found in orchid you must maintain good hygiene around the potting medium, use diatomaceous earth, and baking soda. You can use a well-draining orchid mix, introduce natural predators, remove them by hand, place traps, repot, use rubbing alcohol, lastly use insecticidal oil or soap.
Large infestations typically raise a concern, as the insect may find its way into your home where they can damage your properties. If the infestation is a bother, the first thing to do is inspect for silver pest infestation. You must know what you’re dealing with and not assume it’s a silver bug.
Many growers have mistaken this pest for mealybugs and springtails. As a result, they use inappropriate measures to control the infestation. While they are silver bugs, they aren’t the same.
– Maintaining Good Hygiene
Silver bugs are nocturnal insects whose habitat is a damp environment like your potting medium. Therefore, regularly check and clean your potting medium. Remove dead or decaying organic matter and this way, you can have a clean environment for your plant, as it will reduce infestation and encourage growth.
– Using Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is a smooth, powdery substance from fossilized diatoms. One of the significant uses of this substance is to control pests, such as fungus gnats, snails, and all types of bugs. The substance dehydrates and damages the exoskeleton of the insects, resulting in their death.
Apply a thin layer around the plant’s base and in areas where you can see the pests. The effectiveness of this substance diminishes when it becomes wet, so you’ll have to reapply when you see it necessary. However, you must also be cautious when using this substance, as it can irritate your lungs and skin; for this, you can also wear a mask and some overalls to protect the body.
– Baking Soda
Baking soda works in a similar fashion as diatomaceous earth. This white crystalline powder is mostly used as a cleaning agent. Simply mix one teaspoon with a half gallon of water and apply around the orchid to get rid of the infestation. Avoid excessive use, as it can damage the tissue.
Don’t worry if you are wondering whether this substance is good for orchids because baking soda is safe for orchids. You can treat fungal diseases and insect infestation with it. Mix four teaspoons of baking soda, horticultural oil or insecticidal soap, and a gallon of water then you should apply it on the affected part every two weeks.
– Using a Well-draining Orchid Mix
A well-draining orchid mix will encourage moisture drainage, as a moist environment attracts white bugs. To increase drainage, add materials like sphagnum moss or perlite. These materials form air pockets that allow the removal of excess water.
Also, avoid dense potting mixes and use a pot with proper drainage holes at the bottom. The orchid pot should be snug but still, allow for air circulation, and note that the large part of an orchid pot retains more water. So, you can also adjust the watering frequency according to the environment.
Water when the soil has dried out, and don’t overwater so that you won’t see the breeding of the bugs and diseases like root rot. To ensure proper watering, check the top inch of the soil. If it feels dry, you should water enough to penetrate the roots or pot’s bottom.
– Introducing Natural Predators
Insects like spider mites are natural predators of the silver pest. Introducing them into your growing area may control their population. This also works against mealybug infestation if that’s what you’re facing.
Outdoor mealybugs are prone to various parasitic insects, such as wasps and ladybugs. Introducing these insects in your growing area will help to keep the mealybug population low. This method might not work for indoor mealybugs because of their tendency to crawl into potting medium and feed on roots.
– Hand Removal
This method involves handpicking the insects when discovered. It’s only effective against adults and larger nymphs because they are more obvious. This way, you will pick them up, and throw them into a bag that you have to dispose after because if you leave them, around the orchid, they will go back.
– Placing Traps
You can place sticky traps under the orchid pot to prevent them from climbing. These traps will capture them, but you should replace them once there’s no space for more.
This is another weapon you can deploy to control white bug infestation. If you’ve tried all the above methods and there’s still silver bugs infestation, you should try repotting. Since these insects are attracted to the potting mix, you can change the potting mix. Trim off old or decayed orchid roots with sterilized scissors and plant them in a fresh orchid.
Repotting will also get rid of springtails in soils and mealybugs. Since these insects love to crawl into potting media to feed on the plant and reproduce, repotting can control their egg reproduction. Spraying of the roots is crucial when repotting.
– Rubbing Alcohol
This is an effective method against mealybugs, and springtails. This popular home remedy involves dipping a ball of cotton in isopropyl alcohol and rubbing it on the orchid leaves. In the absence of a cotton ball, you can apply the alcohol with your fingers or soft toothbrush.
Spraying with a misting bottle or a garden sprayer is also effective. This treatment should be repeated every 10 to 14 days to effectively control this infestation. Do not use ethanol or any other form of alcohol, as they can penetrate plant tissues and damage them.
Some growers add a small amount of dish detergent or neem oil into the alcohol. This is also effective, but you have to get the right proportion. Add some drops of liquid dish detergent and a teaspoon of one of the oils into a liter of isopropyl alcohol. Avoid adding too much dish detergent or ammonia-based cleaner into the mix, as it can damage flower production.
– Oils and Insecticidal Soap
Horticultural oil and insecticidal soap can reduce silver bugs and mealybugs in your orchid. These are usually non-organic control methods, meaning they are chemical derivatives that would put an end to their lifecycle as these oil and soap can suffocate insects, killing them eventually.
Horticultural oils are petroleum distillates, while insecticidal soap is made from synthetic pyrethroids. However, they are generally safe for pets, plants, and humans.
The main worry here is that these oils are not usually applied in direct sunlight or on days exceeding 85 degrees Fahrenheit. This is to prevent tissue burns. Therefore, apply to the plant in a shaded location. You can move the plant to a brighter location when it has completely dried. When using insecticidal soap, your orchid may drop some flowers.
Note that none of these methods can offer absolute control over the infestation. However, frequent use can reduce their spread drastically.
Tiny silver bugs in orchids are usually manageable, but a large population may raise some concerns, so let’s do a round-up of the major talking points in this article:
- Silver pest is mainly harmless, and its presence in an orchid pot indicates an area rich in organic matter. It can be beneficial to the plant.
- They infest your orchid due to favorable conditions, nutrients, and lack of natural predators.
- Some natural home remedies include using rubbing alcohol, baking soda, and horticultural oils; they smother the insects and leave them dead for good.
- White bugs are photophobic and typically prefer dark and moist environments. That explains why they infest orchid pots. They are often found in pot’s crevices and leaves.
- Since they thrive in damp environments, maintaining good hygiene, using a well-draining potting mix, diatomaceous earth, repotting, and introducing natural predators are the best control methods. They can create a healthier surrounding for your orchids to bloom.
With this information, you can control the silver pests infestation and create a thriving environment for your orchid.
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