How to get rid of intrusive lice from your orchids - tips for combating them

How to get rid of intrusive lice from your orchids - tips for combating them

These symptoms signal an infestation with lice

Lice come in a variety of forms. Mealybugs and mealybugs are 3-5 mm in size, white, light brown or pink in color and with smeary, woolly hair. In contrast, cap or cup scale insects are just as tiny and are located under an armor-like shield, which makes fighting extremely difficult. Yellowish-green to dark aphids are 2-7 mm in size and more mobile than other lice. We have summarized the most common symptoms for an infestation for you here:

  • White webs and small cotton balls indicate mealybugs and mealy bugs
  • Tiny bumps on the leaves indicate the presence of scale insects
  • Aphids first colonize the underside of the foliage in hosts

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As the lice extract the life sap of the orchids, they are extremely weakened. In the advanced stage, the leaves deform and die. Shoots and pseudobulbs cripple and fungal infections spread.

Fight lice with natural means - Here's how

Once you have found the pests, please quarantine the affected orchid immediately. In the early stages of the infestation, there is a good chance of combating the plague with natural means instead of using chemical insecticides. These methods have proven themselves in practice:

  • Pack the roots in a plastic bag so that you can shower the plant upside down with as powerful a water jet as possible
  • Then wipe the leaves with an alcohol-soaked cloth
  • Repeatedly dab individual mealybugs, mealybugs and scale insects with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol

The classic soft soap solution removes all remaining lice on orchids with strong leaves. For this purpose, dissolve 15 grams of soft soap (17.27 € at Amazon *) in 1 liter of water and add 1 tablespoon of alcohol. With this mixture, spray the top and bottom of the leaves every 2 days until no more lice appear.

Insecticides containing neem help with high infestation pressure

If natural products do not achieve the hoped-for success, specialist retailers have effective insecticides with natural ingredients ready for you. On thick-leaved orchids such as Phalaenopsis or Dendrobium, you can kill the lice with acaricide sprays. If in doubt, test the insecticide on a single leaf beforehand.


A properly cared for orchid develops its own defenses against pests and diseases. One of the central criteria in maintenance is a bright, not full sun location with pleasant room temperatures. Spray leaves and aerial roots daily with filtered rainwater. From spring to autumn add a liquid special fertilizer for orchids to the irrigation water.