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Small Arthropods (Root Aphids?) Crawling on a Piece of Wood with Restrepia Sanguinea and White Mold

Discussion in 'Issues, Disease and Pests' started by Platanthera, Apr 14, 2019.

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  1. Platanthera

    Platanthera New Member

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    Hello all,

    Out of all the orchids I received over the holidays, Restrepia sanguinea is certainly the hardest to care for. Everything seemed to be going well—plenty of new roots and bright green leaves—but the moss around the plant gradually began to die. A few weeks later, white mold had spread wherever live moss once grew, and I wiped it away. Even though there isn't any now, I'm fairly sure I haven't gotten rid of it entirely. It doesn't seem particularly harmful, but it's not very attractive to look and certainly isn't encouraging.

    Around the same time as the mold appeared, I noticed small arthropods (root aphids?) hiding in the moss and scurrying across the piece of the wood the Restrepia is mounted on. They vary a great deal in size, but are all quite small. I included a few photographs in this thread to aid with identification...

    I recently installed a small fan in the enclosure where the Restrepia sanguinea grows to ensure better air movement, and to hopefully prevent the mold from reappearing. As for the little creatures, it doesn't look like they're spreading, but it's not like they could get too far (being isolated in a small enclosure).

    Any help would be appreciated.

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  2. Platanthera

    Platanthera New Member

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    Could these actually be springtails?
     
  3. JohnsonS

    JohnsonS Active Member

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    Yes, that's a springtail; probably an Entomobrya sp. They are harmless and are mostly feeding on biofilms, fungi, molds and other decaying matter.
     
  4. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    You could try spraying (or drenching) the plant/mount with 3% hydrogen peroxide for the white mold.
     
  5. Platanthera

    Platanthera New Member

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    Thank you, both of you. I'm very glad to hear that the springtails aren't harmful, and I'm interested to know more about their eating habits. Might they have been feeding on the mold and dying moss?

    As for the white mold, is there any chance that the diluted hydrogen peroxide could harm the Restrepia? The roots have covered a lot of ground since I bought it, and there's no avoiding getting some of the solution on the plant if I am to deal with the mold.

    Thanks for the identification and the advice.
     
  6. JohnsonS

    JohnsonS Active Member

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    It's very possible the springtails were/are feeding on the mold, or, at the very least, any associated organisms living off of the mold and decaying moss themselves. Collembola are commonly used in display vivaria as a sort of 'clean-up crew', keeping blooms of fungi and mold in check, as well as acting as an additional food source for any other invertebrates or small vertebrates living within the system. You can commonly find them in the wild, living in moist habitats on fungi and decaying plant debris (wood, leaves, etc.) and feeding on the various biofilms present (algae and bacteria). They are curious creatures with an incredible diversity not unlike orchids.

    You might consider moving the mount to an area that receives more air movement, if it is currently in a location with stagnant air. Sometimes just the right conditions align (humidity, temperature, nutrients) for a mold to bloom, but usually it will subside when one or more of those factors change.
     
  7. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Other than nigro-hirsute dendrobiums, I don't know of any problems with hydrogen peroxide and orchid plants. I frequently spray 3% (as it comes from the store) on whole plants, including the roots, without problem. It is good to loosen up algae so it can be washed off. If I have contamination in a flask, I will soak the seedlings for about 5 minutes in H2O2 before potting them up.

    The nigro-hirsute dendrobiums tend to defoliate after treatment from H2O2. I also had a Trichocentrum flower loose its color after treatement, but the plant was fine.
     
  8. Platanthera

    Platanthera New Member

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    It's been a long time, and I'm sorry I didn't get back to either of you earlier.

    I used the 3% hydrogen peroxide as instructed, and it seems to have worked. I'm afraid that the springtail population has been reduced by the treatment, but I still see one or two occasionally, which leads me to believe that they might just make it. The Restrepia didn't react adversely to the hydrogen peroxide, but the development of a new leaf did slow down. Whether or not this is due to the treatment remains to be seen, but the bottom line is that the solution worked and the orchid is (as far as I can tell) unharmed.

    As for air circulation, I think I mentioned earlier how I have a small (but powerful) fan in the enclosure which I was hoping would ensure air movement. Turning it on a few times each day isn't enough, is it? The plastic greenhouse I have is designed for growing highland Nepenthes and other carnivores with more-or-less similar growing requirements, so the humidity there is too low. That is why the Restrepia is in such a small enclosure, because its needs are so different from the majority of plants I have. As the fan decreases humidity in the orchidarium, I try to keep it on as little as possible. Might making it turn on 2-3 times each day do the trick?

    Thanks again.
     
  9. Ted Baenziger

    Ted Baenziger New Member

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    Platanthera,
    I just found this thread and I second Marni about the peroxide: it is harmless to Restrepia. As for your fan, could I suggest you leave it on but point it to a water surface (bowl, for example) so that it increases humidity rather that reducing it?