Just when I thought I could look forward to some awesome blooms, something has decided to make a happy meal out of my orchid buds. Aargh!
I suspect thrips. These tiny, almost invisible insects usually make themselves welcome during the drier season, presumably because there are no heavy downpours to wash them away. Rains do give them and other minute insects a hard time.
From my observation, the thrips like vandas the most. Even then, not all vandas. The strap leaved vandas and tall renantheras are the most susceptible and they seem to leave dendrobium, phalaenopsis and oncidium flowers alone. What can I say? Bugs have good taste.
I should’ve known better than to drop my guard. Vigilance is a must with growing orchids outdoors.
For treatment, I have sprayed – no, in fact, I’ve drenched my plants with an organic neem-based insecticide plus a little soap mixed-in and see what happens. They can hide in the folds of leaves and other nooks so don’t just target the buds. Treat the whole plant and your entire collection. A few consecutive applications a week apart is also recommended. The last resort would be to bring out the malathion (a very stinky, chemical insecticide) but I shall hold that option off for now. Honestly, there is not much I can do with these damaged buds.
Lesson: keep a close watch, always.