Very small black bugs on phalaenopsis
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  #1  
Old 06-24-2021, 12:49 PM
Nadezhda Nadezhda is offline
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Very small black bugs on phalaenopsis
Question Very small black bugs on phalaenopsis

Hello all,

I just watered my orchids and noticed some very small black bugs about 1mm long on one of them. They were quite a lot in numbers and also craw rather quickly. I also noticed some of them in the water that drained in the pod. Photo

Video

Other than that the orchid is healthy I did not notice any problems on the leaves, it has two new leaves a lot of new roots and bloomed earlier this year.

Can anyone tell me what they are and if I should be worried?

Thank you in advance!
Nadezhda
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  #2  
Old 06-24-2021, 07:35 PM
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Shadeflower Shadeflower is offline
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Very small black bugs on phalaenopsis
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they could be thrips which could be a concern. I see a slight white sheen on the base of the lowest leaf - that looks like potential insect damage and the fact that they are on the plant - not just the roots indicates it could very well be thrips which need to be eliminated. Did they jump? Find something to combat thrips.

They are too small to identify completely accureltely, they could also be bark lice but bark lice generally don't jump, hang out on roots - not the plant and feed off algae.
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Old 06-25-2021, 02:38 AM
Nadezhda Nadezhda is offline
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Very small black bugs on phalaenopsis
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Thank you for the reply! I was also concerned about thrips, but these guys looked different from what I saw online.
They did not jump, they moved more like worms.
The spot on the leaf is from a sunburn from two years ago and I don't see any new damage.
As of now all of the bugs are back in the bark. I don't see any on the plant. So maybe they are just bark lice and came out on the surface because of the watering.
For now I'll keep the orchid separate and will check for anything concerning.
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Old 06-25-2021, 06:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadeflower View Post
they could also be bark lice but bark lice generally don't jump, hang out on roots - not the plant and feed off algae.
This is of particular interest to me. I become concerned (probably like others) when I see small critters crawling around the bark and the roots of my potted orchids. My concern: what the "heck" is that! More importantly ~ these guys aren't supposed to be here. Worse: my front burner starts to fire constantly, wondering if they're going to damage my plants.

I've had to figure out what those critters were, and why they unexpectedly showed up in my orchid pots (especially my pots that use 100% bark as a medium). Was able to figure out some those pests fairly easy; fungus gnats and bush snails. Was also able to rectify those problems so they would not snowball out of control if I didn't act on finding a solution.

Was not able to figure out the bark lice until a friend came over (much more knowledgeable than me about orchid pests). He was able to nail down an ID for me: bark lice (psocids -Psocoptera: Embidopsocus enderleini).

He filled me in as to the "why" they were probably there, and more-or-less explained what these small bugs do. I remember most of the information he gave me: loving high humidity and damp bark, crawling throughout the bark and over orchid roots, munching/eating bacteria and fungus, along with making bark decompose much quicker than normal.

I keep all of my orchids within terrariums now-a-days (in a controlled environment). I know my growing conditions are favorable for bark lice. Very seldom is anything ever added within my established/existing set-ups. A question that still nags at me today... where in the "Hades" do these critters come from to start with? I thought that repotting my orchids in new & fresh bark would eliminate them. But, they have reappeared on occasion (even after using fresh/good quality bark acquired from different sources, and repotting on a somewhat frequent schedule). Still haven't figured this one out... maybe somehow they already exist in my fresh replacement bark.
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Old 06-25-2021, 09:03 PM
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yeah bark lice are not easy to get rid of. You can by changing the whole substrate and risnng off the plant but then they always pop up in another pot elsewhere so I've given up, considering fingers crossed they only eat fungus and algae. By the way they don't just live on bark, they happily live on cork and even lecca too if it is damp enough.
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Old 07-09-2021, 03:25 PM
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So I noticed a group of the little critters today and I thought I'd take a picture for the record, they seem to be getting bigger in my care then I remember them ever being so they are getting fed well whatever they are eating- fingers crossed it is just algae, I never see them on the orchids and surprisingly they can walk on water as that is what they are doing in this picture:

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Old 08-02-2021, 09:38 PM
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So I know its been a while since I mentioned these tiny bugs but they haven't disappeared yet and I had another outbreak of mites too but I think the mites have had a go at pretty much every phal (they just love phals some some reason) so fingers crossed they've run out of plants to attack now.
I'm still a bit undecided on what these bugs really are. First off I have since discovered they are venturing out onto the plants once they are big so they don't just hang out on the roots anymore. Secondly they always appear when a plant loses a big proportion of roots. Initially I was thinking ok so the media was too wet, I lost some roots and along come the bark lice to eat them but I find it too suspicious that these bugs are there every time, like every time I lose roots these bugs are there so its a chicken and egg situation. Which came first, the insect damaging my roots or the bugs coming in to feast on the rotting roots. Bottom line I want to erradicate all insects now. The good news is that these are extrememly dependent on high humidity. So there's only a few plants that are affected by them. I don't even know how I managed to get rid of them in other pots, sometimes keeping the pot just a bit drier got rid of a lot I think. Considering how resilient they are it is strange that some plants just won the battle in the end and haven't got these bugs anymore without me seemingly doing much about it.

Last edited by Shadeflower; 08-02-2021 at 09:40 PM..
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