HONOLULU (KHON2) — Florists and lei makers said orchids are the most popular flower for graduation season and Mother’s Day.

Several lei stands at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport told KHON2 that their orchid lei were recently confiscated, and they’re not the only ones dealing with the same issue.

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Whatever orchid lei is out on display is what’s left at airport lei stands. The same goes for Watanabe Floral.

“Even if things were to start to clear towards the end of this week, tens of thousands of lei have already been disposed of and thrown away and that will not be able to be made up,” said Monty Pereira of Watanabe Floral.

Watanabe Floral and many lei makers import their orchids from Thailand. Customs and Border Patrol says they examine international shipments for any prohibited agriculture threats or pests. Experts say the issue is most likely invasive insects.

“It’s a good chance that there could be an insect such as thrips, which really like getting into flower heads, mealy bugs, mites, which arthropods, they could be tagging along,” said Mike Melze of the UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.

Customers looking for orchid lei ahead of a big weekend are taken by surprise.

“I really need lei for Friday and Saturday with the graduations coming up,” said Nicole, an Aiea resident. “I’m graduating from Chaminade this Saturday so I really need the lei for my friends and I didn’t even know there was an orchid shortage.”

Others may rely on candy or yarn lei instead this year.

“I’ve made before and maybe for graduates who don’t put as much value into the orchid lei,” said Melissa Nagata, an Ewa resident.

Florists say Mother’s Day is the second busiest time of year behind graduation season. They’re asking for customer’s patience and flexibility.

“The best thing to do would be just to hope and pray that you know something is available when you show up on Friday and Saturday, but I would expect that with the premium on lei supply and demand is going to mean that there probably going to be higher prices for lay this weekend,” Pereira said.

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Lei makers said a good alternative for the orchid lei are plumeria lei. Plumeria are locally produced and luckily they’re currently in season.