Remember the orchid I got at such a great price back in November? Such perfect foliage, beautiful blooms (and still blooming) and mealy bugs. For seven dollars, I didn't expect any extras, but I got them anyway.
Last week, I had seen a couple of them hiding between two of the strappy leaves where one was laying right on top of the other. I cleaned them off and inspected the rest of the plant for more. I found a few and removed them as well.
But what I found yesterday just about made me want to vomit. The mealy bugs were still there and were having a staff meeting inside the bloom. Their buddies that didn't make it for that meeting were having one of their own in one of the leaf crevices. And I caught a few more in transit from one place to another.
If they weren't garden pests and they didn't suck the life out of the plants they hang out on, I'd say they were kind of cute as bugs go. They're the fluffy bunnies of the plant pest world. But I didn't feel one bit guilty picking them off and smashing them between my fingers. Ew. Sticky.
I decided to look them up online to see what's the best method of control. Manually removing them is one option, but the eggs and the babies are somewhat difficult to find, let alone see. And they also live in the potting medium, chewing on the roots, weakening the plant. We can't have that.
So I took it out of the pot, got rid of the potting medium and rinsed the roots off in lukewarm water. It had a very healthy root system - the best of all my orchids - so the mealy bugs hadn't yet done too much damage. I sprayed the roots with insecticide and repotted it. Hopefully, I removed all the bugs I could and killed what I wasn't able to get to or see. Time will tell, and I'll need to keep a close watch on it and reapply the insecticide periodically.
In other orchid news, I've got two of them that I think are each just starting to shoot out a flower stalk! The first orchid I ever bought, which was back in February 2006, rebloomed for me a little more than a year after its purchase blooms fell off. I was pretty excited about it because for as fussy as orchids are reported to be, I've not found them to be so much. I have them in the cooler spots in the house, in bright indirect light and when I think of it, I water them. Now and then I'll mist them, but not really all that often.
Now if those darn bugs would just leave us alone, we'll be fine.
Answer: There are 9 of the little buggers.