Are my plants infested?

e-w-031November 20, 2013

Hi all,

A while back I repotted my orchids, then I began to notice some white webbing between the bark potting medium. There is no webbing on any of my plants. On that orchid there doesn't seem to be that white spotted look on any of the leaves, but on the other orchid that sat right next to it there does seem to be the beginnings of a weird patch on one leaf. I've looked and I've looked and I just can't see any bugs anywhere. I've done the paper test and nothing.

In the same room there are many other plants and some have begun to get some raised bumps on the leaves. There are also a few spots on the leaves that look the opposite of raised, whatever that is... Kind of hollow holes, except that there isn't actually a hole in the leaf. Again, I did the paper test and nothing showed up. Once I did get a few dark spots but they remained still and I examined them under magnification and couldn't tell anything. But they never moved.

I'm really suspicious about that one orchid with the webbing in the medium because before I repotted it it was growing a new leaf and roots pretty fast but then after repot and recover time its growth has slowed a lot.

What's your take on this? Do you think I have an infestation, and if so, what is it? Aren't you supposed to be able to see spider mites when doing the paper test?

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Hello E,

You mentioned webbing. Is it possible the webbing is that of a regular house spider?

Are the patches white? If so, your plants probably have mealybug.

Perhaps you've been over-watering and the white web-looking stuff is mold....Just a theory.

To answer your question...if mites are present, tapped on a white sheet of paper, you will see the little buggers on the paper.
They're tiny, but they can be seen, especially with a magnifying glass or whatever was used to magnify.

Are patches white and fuzzy or brown? Do they have hard or soft 'shells?'


    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 10:54AM
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Thanks Toni,

The webbing doesn't look like a regular spider webbing. I also wondered if it mold. The one with this issue is in a clear dual orchid pot, the kind with a netted pot inside. I can see this stuff growing between the inner net pot and the outer clear pot.

I wondered if the medium had been retaining wate for too long and was growing mold. I can't find any actual bugs doing the paper test. I don't see any mealy bugs anywhere. However, I did notice some areas on the edge of the Phaleonopsis leaf look like they might have been attack by some insect. They are kind of yellow, but not like over or underwatering. And there's the spot on the other Phal. that I'm concerned is a spider mite attack spot. The patches are white fuzzy. Again, they don't really look like regular spider webbing.

I think the thing that worries my the most right now is the raised bumps on some of the leaves of my other plants in the same room (birds nest fern and anthurium). Also, on the anthurium the pits in the leaves, there may even be some sticky material around the pits.

I hope this helps in figuring out if I need to do some kind of treatment.
I could post some pics but all these things are really tiny and I don't think they will really show up in a photo.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 11:44AM
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E, I'm a little confused. lol.

So, there's webs. Possibly mold. Mold grows and will spread to other plants.

You wrote, 'the patches are white, fuzzy.'
Are white patches, possible mold? Where are the white patches? On soil or foliage?

Mealy are usually white, fuzzy and move very very slow.
When mealy munch leaves, foliage yellows and feels sticky. A honeydew residue.

My question is, how many problems are going on? lol.

Yep, house spider webs differ from spider mite webbing. Mite webbing is finer.


Webs may have nothing to do with the white, fuzzy patches.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 11:59AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Showing pics of the plants could be helpful, even if any actual pests can't be seen that way. The damage may provide clues. The browse button will let you add 1 pic per reply, so reply a couple times to add 2 pics for example, if you feel like doing that. Some of what you said could describe a caterpillar of unknown type, either presently or in the recent past.

Were your plants outside for summer? If you don't mind saying, what state are you in?

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 12:44PM
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Ok, sorry for confusing everyone!

I took some pics. This was a photographic challenge. This morning I moved the orchid pot with the fuzziness to a separate location that is lower in humidity. When I came home this evening and looked at it the fuzzy at the top of the medium seems to have collapsed. The fuzzy between the inner net pot (photo 1) and the outer pot was still there. This leads me to think that this is more of a mold issue.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 4:35PM
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Second issue of concern:
This is a leaf on my other orchid. There is an area on the leaf that has a depressed/hollowed out/pitted appearance. I hope the photo gives you an idea of this, it was hard to photograph.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 4:41PM
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Pitted, hollowed out circular spots on my Anthurium.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 4:49PM
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Here's another photo of the anthurium spots.

I couldn't get a clear shot of the pits on the bird's nest fern, but I think they may just be versions of this same thing.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 4:51PM
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Please tell me these are cultural problems and not bugs!!! Up until recently when I decided I wanted my plants to thrive past their first year in my home and consequently started educating myself I've always neglected my plants and ironically they have always done fine and I've never had a problem with bugs.

I live in Vermont so it's getting really dry here. I've been trying to keep the humidity as high as I can, which means from 40-50%. I also spray the plants daily. I know this doesn't really help with humidity, but some really seem to perk up with this treatment, especially my Boston fern.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 4:56PM
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The fuzzy between the inner net pot (photo 1) and the outer pot was still there. This leads me to think that this is more of a mold issue.

If I understand correctly, orchid is planted in bark medium in the net pot that is held in some ornamental outer pot - I wonder if there is enough air circulation there...Rina

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 5:32PM
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Yes to the potting of the orchid. What do you think about the pitting on the other orchid leaf (photo #2)?

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 6:11PM
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