Two Primary Mites
As with any flowering plant, there will be problems so make up your mind that your orchids will be no exception. Problems related to orchids are many, but today we will discuss Mites – the damage they cause and the signs to look for. To give you a thorough explanation and not just an orchid tip, we will cover the two primary mites for orchids and deal with other issues in subsequent articles.
Yes, orchid plants and orchid mites do not make good neighbors. They can be very damaging to your plants; even killing them. Orchid mites are not really an orchid disease as some refer to them, but an orchid pest. Bear in mind there are many different types of mites, some are actually good for your plants because they get rid of the bad mites – but this is the exception, and too much to hope for if your orchids are currently being invaded.
The two primary mites that we should concern ourselves with, you may know them as spider mites. Laying that silky web does not mean they are related to spiders… and the first type of mite that causes the majority of problems for orchid growers is the two-spotted spider mite… a yellowish-green with two black spots half way down the body.
The other common mite that affects orchids is the flat mite; usually found in tropical and sub-tropical climates. Both however, are very hard to identify, and both are very small measuring 1 mm or less. Mites can go from orchid plant to orchid plant easily. They are so light they can float on air currents. From eggs, to larva, to nymphs and then to adults may take many weeks to complete and orchid growers need to be vigilant.
Orchid leaves can be affected by these mites; yellow or brown speckles are what can be the give-away. But remember – other reasons for this could also be fungal disease. A good give-away are the spider webs… not caused by spiders of course, but by spider mites. So – what to do?
First – isolate your plants from the others as mites travel fast and easily from orchid to orchid. Start treating the infected plant first… water often rinses most of these pests off the plants, and misting orchids regularly can prevent mites in the first place. The mites have a long life cycle, it won’t just take one treatment, but over the weeks you will win.
For the more persistent infestations, a mixture of rubbing alcohol and dish detergent sprayed on the leaves will get rid of the mites without damaging the orchid plant itself.
Spider mites destroy orchid plant cells by sucking out their contents, but there is an organic component called Mite-Rid that works by providing a barrier which is harmless to the plant, but fatal to the mites. Actually, some of the components of this commercial product are also absorbed by the plant and thus suppresses the life cycle of the mite.
Esther Smith, author
Spider mites are only a single problem with Orchid growers, but future articles will deal with a new issue and hopefully this one has thoroughly explained the mite; its red flags and its solution. Always be on the lookout for those tell-tale signs and get more information from our website+>