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Mealybug on new sheath of Paphiopedilum armeniacum

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BrucherT

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Exactly one year ago, from wonderful Tom Kalina of Fox Valley Orchids, I purchased a seedling Paphiopedilum armeniacum. It was just too perfect to pass up. A couple weeks ago, I noticed a new stolon growing; sweet! Today I happened to notice what I assumed was a new leaf, as the plant was supposed to be two years from blooming but nope! It’s my first ever Brachypetalum sheath! Huzzah! I had a specimen of this thrilling species in the 90s that produced stolon after stolon, really a beautiful plant but nary a flower. So, this sheath is a thrill. Problem: it’s covered in mealybug, with which I’ve never dealt before and am working to treat. I poisoned all the slippers with Safari several days ago, will water today (Friday). I sprayed the single plant with Safari today. Will the mealies destroy the sheath? Will Safari harm it? I’m so surprised by the infestation and I don’t like pesticides but I grow a lot of stuff in a small space and I suppose it was inevitable. Live and learn. Help appreciated. I grow indoors, windows, Chicago.

Please note that this lovely specimen did NOT arrive from Tom with mealybug. It was pristine. This infestation is a recent problem. Even a week ago, there were no visible bugs. I’m confused because I sprayed it down today as well as drenching the pot last week and...they seem not to have minded much. Hoping you can see the sheath. Love this plant. Hoping to save and see my first flower. Thank you.
 

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musa

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In my opinion mealy bugs are not too hard to fight off by using chemicals. Just be quick, to save the bud and maybe you can add some wetting agent, so you don't have to wait for the systemic effect. Sorry, I'm not familiar with your insecticide brands.
Good hunting!
 

Don I

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I bought a plant at the end of last Sept. On Feb. 26 I noticed mealy bugs in and around the axil of one fan. I used a Q tip to scope of the bugs and paunt the area with an insecticide. I haven't seen anything since. It doesn't mean they won't return, but like you my plants are in the house and you can't take them outside in Feb. to spray.
Don
 

gego

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If there are only a few of them you can just use alcohol, even if diluted using a hand spray. They hide pretty well so you need to be vigilant. If you see white powder dust, then they are there somewhere. For buds, a 50% alcohol just sprayed on it then dry it after a minute. They die pretty fast but multiply fast.
 

Happypaphy7

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That is about the largest plant (wide & long leaves) of the species I've seen! Beautiful.
Mealy bugs are not easily harmed by chemical spray as their body is covered with fine hairs and won't get wet easily.
I wouldn't try harsh chemicals or not even alcohol on this developing spike. Take a toothbrush to gently brush them off. Try not to touch the spike or bud itself. Then, take a toothpick to catch any smaller ones that might be hiding deeper in at the center or between leaf crevices.
I do see a lot of them on your plant and it is important to physically remove them rather than hitting it with chemicals which can upset and kill the bud. Even if you don't remove all the bugs, removing as much as possible will definitely help reduce stress on the plant.
Finally, check on the plant everyday (more than once if possible) and catch any mealy bugs that might be hanging around on the plant.
I also recommend using soapy water. It can upset the bud and cause it to abort. Physically removing the bugs as much as you can is about the best way to go, and it's doable since it is just this one plant.
Check on other plants near and far in the collection just to see if they have made their way onto other plants.
Good luck! I don't think I've ever seen armeniacum being offered by Tom, but then I've seen some really cool stuff that was offered and quickly sold out in short time, so you got a good deal.
 

BrucherT

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That is about the largest plant (wide & long leaves) of the species I've seen! Beautiful.
Mealy bugs are not easily harmed by chemical spray as their body is covered with fine hairs and won't get wet easily.
I wouldn't try harsh chemicals or not even alcohol on this developing spike. Take a toothbrush to gently brush them off. Try not to touch the spike or bud itself. Then, take a toothpick to catch any smaller ones that might be hiding deeper in at the center or between leaf crevices.
I do see a lot of them on your plant and it is important to physically remove them rather than hitting it with chemicals which can upset and kill the bud. Even if you don't remove all the bugs, removing as much as possible will definitely help reduce stress on the plant.
Finally, check on the plant everyday (more than once if possible) and catch any mealy bugs that might be hanging around on the plant.
I also recommend using soapy water. It can upset the bud and cause it to abort. Physically removing the bugs as much as you can is about the best way to go, and it's doable since it is just this one plant.
Check on other plants near and far in the collection just to see if they have made their way onto other plants.
Good luck! I don't think I've ever seen armeniacum being offered by Tom, but then I've seen some really cool stuff that was offered and quickly sold out in short time, so you got a good deal.
Thank you! Pretty much my favorite day of the year now is when I get to go to Hausermann’s Open House and see what Tom and then Terry Partin have to offer. Perfect pristine jewels of plants. I usually can’t not get something. P. armeniacum has always been a dream plant; I did not intend to buy one from Tom that day a year ago but his offerings were just so perfect. I have this plant as well as one each of his yellow and red Phragmipedium besseae. Excellent growers all. I would say the growth of this armeniacum has doubled in size in a year. It gets southeast light, pretty strong. I never let it dry out. Ever. The plant I had before just multiplied growths, no blooms. I don’t know why this one set a sheath but I sort of have a magical setup here and I don’t want to jinx it but I seem suddenly to have a lot of mealybug. I’ll try to remove physically. I’ve already hit it twice with Safari. Is that too much? I’ll definitely go at it tomorrow. Thank you!
 

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Try filling a small spray bottle with 60-70% isopropyl alcohol and spraying the insects directly (just a spray, not a deluge). The alcohol will be absorbed by the surface of the mealybug and it will kill the insect, and the alcohol will evaporate quickly with out leaving a residue. You may have to do this several times for total control. This works great for people who dislike spraying toxic pesticides in general and especially in the home growing area.
 

BrucherT

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Try filling a small spray bottle with 60-70% isopropyl alcohol and spraying the insects directly (just a spray, not a deluge). The alcohol will be absorbed by the surface of the mealybug and it will kill the insect, and the alcohol will evaporate quickly with out leaving a residue. You may have to do this several times for total control. This works great for people who dislike spraying toxic pesticides in general and especially in the home growing area.
I can do this...if the pharmacy ever restocks alcohol again! You’re saying it won’t harm the new sheath? Thanks so much, Tom. Hope you saw the compliments to your plant! It’s been perfect since I got it until just now with the bugs, which obviously are not your fault. Do you have any other armeniacum from this batch? Have they begun to bloom? I’m so excited about getting a sheath in my conditions; I’ve done nothing specific to this plant. Within inches of where this plant sits, I have been able to bloom rothschildianum, purpuratum, I have a volonteanum about to open, charlesworthii, spicerianum, Dr. Jack, venustem...helenae sits next to armeniacum and I think (not sure) that it’s got a bud happening. I had planned to put the armeniacum in my cold (but never freezing) basement next year and I’m excited that that doesn’t seem necessary, at least to get a sheath. I have not repotted since I brought it home...
 

tomkalina

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I wouldn't go overboard with the spray on a sheath - just a fine mist should work. We have a fresh air supply located in the North end of the greenhouse under one of the benches, and we put all of the Parvi species directly over it in Winter. It's gets down to about 45-48F in this location which seems to be enough to get things spiking assuming their big enough to spike.
 

DrLeslieEe

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I agree that a light spral of 70% isopropyl alcohol on the mealies will work for most of the time, and only temporary. It won't harm the sheath or bud if it dries fast (within 30 min) and not sit on the crown. However I have foung the larger adult mealies sometimes get resistant to the alcohol and may need to be crushed with alcohol in a cotton swab. I have seen large ones sprayed, get wet, dry and get out of their drunken state and carry on. Must check again in 3-7 days as this spray is only a contact spray and will NOT get the mealies hiding in the root zone. Check underleaves and all plants within a 3-4 pot radius for other infestations. This method is requires daily observations and sometimes isolation. Very tedious.

Myself I use Merit 7-10 days apart as spray and drenching root zone (by watering). It has eliminated mealies and scales completely for 4 years now. I apply twice a year and on new acquisitions and those coming back from shows.
 

Happypaphy7

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Thank you! Pretty much my favorite day of the year now is when I get to go to Hausermann’s Open House and see what Tom and then Terry Partin have to offer. Perfect pristine jewels of plants. I usually can’t not get something. P. armeniacum has always been a dream plant; I did not intend to buy one from Tom that day a year ago but his offerings were just so perfect. I have this plant as well as one each of his yellow and red Phragmipedium besseae. Excellent growers all. I would say the growth of this armeniacum has doubled in size in a year. It gets southeast light, pretty strong. I never let it dry out. Ever. The plant I had before just multiplied growths, no blooms. I don’t know why this one set a sheath but I sort of have a magical setup here and I don’t want to jinx it but I seem suddenly to have a lot of mealybug. I’ll try to remove physically. I’ve already hit it twice with Safari. Is that too much? I’ll definitely go at it tomorrow. Thank you!
I'm not sure about the potential adverse effect the Safari might have on this plant, but chemical sprays in general are best avoided on the bud/flowers. Especailly when you have something like armeniacum that is not the easiest one to bloom under less than ideal conditions, you definitely don't want to ruin the opportunity of seeing the flower in the near future. So, I'd say go hand picking as much as possible and stay diligent at it.

The rest of your collection, try what Tom suggests. Also, try systemic since you say you have lots of them on other plants in general in your collection. If you leave them be, your collection will be ruined and turn into a mealy bug farm. You don't want that.
You have to treat all plants for the application to be most effective. I have used imidacloprid (either granule forms or concentrated liquid form that needs dilution) with great results against scales. I've never had to deal with mealy bug "outbreak" although I had some minor case on one or two plants at a time, which was mostly a newly purchased plant, then I got rid of them right away.
If you end up using imidaclorprid, you have to soak the plant in the solution because these products are intended to be used in the soil (whether potted or out in the garden) and be absorbed by the roots over a period of a few weeks. Orchids potted in bark and other coarse mix, it can't work the same way, and the best way to make sure that plants root to take them up is to soak the plants in the solution for at least 10-20 minutes. Repeat this three four times until you do not see any bugs.
Good luck!

Also, regarding the bud, formation of sheath on them (and other plants that go through cooler months in the wild) often takes place before the cold season. Then, once the cold season passes, they develop and bloom in the spring into early summer.
I've seen people (myself included) whose armeniacum grow and bloom alright in the dry warm home, but this is not the norm.
Micranthum, armeniacum both seem to send up a sheath and they just sit there doing nothing for many months before finally either developing further and bloom, or simply just abort itself. So, it remains to be seen what yours will do.
You might be lucky with a "crazy" armeniacum that blooms easily without any help, but it most likely will do better when given proper season.
Fingers crossed!! Hopefully you will have a nice big chunky yellow flower that matches those wild beautiful leaves! :)
 
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