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  • 1 Post By raybark

Mealy Bugs... A Beginners Experience

This is a discussion on Mealy Bugs... A Beginners Experience within the Orchid Ailments / The Compost Pile forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; This is long, but, it's about my experience so I'd appreciate it if I could ...

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  1. #1
    wishonafish is offline Junior Member
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    Mar 2012

    Default Mealy Bugs... A Beginners Experience

    This is long, but, it's about my experience so I'd appreciate it if I could get feedback on what to do next time.

    So, I've seen these little suckers once before. I believe the original experience was a bug that managed to live long enough to be seen after being transferred from another plant. I have no idea. This last experience was one I'd rather not go into, but I wonder if others have had a similar experience. I'd love to know how to avoid these things all together, take them from the face of the planet, and pretend they never existed.

    In any case, I'll get back to it. It's been a while since I've posted here and in that time I've been busy raising my orchids back into their spikes! I've even been successful. In the year that I've had my orchids (about 7 over the year). All of my blooming size plants except for one phal (I have 3) has decided to grace me with more flowers. Yay, me. So, recently I decided to visit a show.

    At said show I bought several new types of orchids to add to my collection. I'll probably post pictures at some point. While at the show I adopted a few new plants. I made sure not to touch a whole bunch of stuff (if anything, really) without using sanitizer after. I also thought I got a pretty good look at the plant to make sure it was okay. Well, I was wrong on one account. A masdevallia caught my eye and it was from a grower I really respected. I had already asked for one plant from them so I decided to take the plunge on a second. This masd. became a masdevil. to me before the night was done.

    I always keep my plants separated for several weeks if I feel there might be anything wrong with them. I monitor them closely. I do the same thing after bringing them home from a show and I'm glad I did. After dinner, I found a mealy bug... The thing made my heart drop so fast and I panicked.

    I ended up calling the grower, asking him what to do, and he told me how to kill them. He said to call back if it did not work. I told him I could come back up to him so he could treat it the following day and he said that they should be gone after I used a watered down rubbing alcohol mix, and not to worry. So, worry not, I used the mixture and killed off the major bugs that I saw. They turned brown and I wiped them away. That part was pretty cool. The next day I found more and treated it. I looked online for new treatment options but found the one he suggested was best. So I continued this pattern for a week. All the while the plant was being quarantined so I was growing concerned about how much it could actually take. The flowers died back and the bugs were still there. During this period I noticed oval shape holes in the leaves which were the exact shape of the bugs and wondered just how long this plant had been under attack.

    I ended up having to call the grower back. He also said he checked his other plants and found nothing. I was pretty happy about that but he also told me he sold all but two. I hope there is no-one else out there experiencing what I did. I accepted the check he offered because he then told me I needed to protect my other plants and throw the infected one away. (Had I thought that the plant could have been infected by another plant I wouldn't have accepted the check, however, the plant never touched anything that had not been sanitized before and was bagged separately from everything else. )That's exactly what I did, but I feel really bad about it. As I was throwing it away I found clumps of what looked like more bugs inside the base of the leaves. No matter what I did with that plant I was doomed for failure?

    The plant is on it's way but I cannot help but feel there's more I could have done. I made sure that everything near, around, by, or that touched the plant was thoroughly cleaned or thrown away. I have also not seen (knock on wood) these on my other new plants. I was also amazed at how fast these bugs grew. They began so small that they were practically impossible to see!

    What do you guys do to avoid these types of problems? What are the signs? What are the treatments? What experience do you all have with these nasty bugs?

  2. #2
    raybark's Avatar
    raybark is offline Senior Member
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    Ray Barkalow
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    The key to getting rid of any insect infestation is the treat the entire plant with an effective pesticide several times at regular intervals.

    Mealies, for the most part, I find easy to deal with.

    1) Don't dilute the alcohol. 70% is more effective than anything diluted, and won't hurt the plant. If you add a half teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap (Joy, Dawn, etc.) to a pint of the alcohol, it's even better.

    2) When you spray, treat EVERY surface of the plant, and let it sit there until dry.

    3) Repeat that treatment weekly for 3 applications. (I sometimes repeat sooner if I see another before the week)

    That should take care of it.

    If, on the other hand, you have a plant that has the root system colonized with them - detectable if the treatment above appears to be insufficient - then you'll need to pull out the "big guns" and drench/soak the entire plant with a commercial insecticide, agains at weekly intervals, repeated three times.

  3. #3
    eircsmith's Avatar
    eircsmith is offline Senior Member
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    There are lots of methods to kill the mealy bugs; such as attracting their natural predators like wasps. Using organic insecticidal soaps is another one; as some of the grower use easiest method from the average green thumb's medicine cabinet: Rubbing Alcohol.

  4. #4
    Gin's Avatar
    Gin is offline Senior Member
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    If I see one ,out come the systemics like Bayer Tree and Shrub or (phew ) ---> Orthene and drench the plant and mix .. Miss one and they are back also can be transferred onto your clothes and brought home .. Take no prisoners ! Oh how I hate them

  5. #5
    nicki is offline Senior Member
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    pittsburgh Pa
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    It's not recommended to pour the rubbing alcohol down the mix? Or sit the of the plant in rubbing alcohol? I've not had problems with mealy bugs but do have those teeny tiny pesky barely can see bugs in several mixes. They don't seem to do any harm and I can't seem to get rid of them. I'm going to give a couple plants away and it would nice to give them away pest free.
    Any new orchids I get I will treat with the soap/alcohol mixture mentioned as a precaution.

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