While spider mites are prolific and annoying pests to all types of agriculture, they seem to be an especially big problem for cannabis growers – for a variety of reasons. First and foremost is the fact that most cannabis operations in the United States are indoors so they can be kept from public view. That means the spider mites that manage to make their way inside are pretty much free from natural predators. At that point the only thing between them and your plants is you.
Another reason spider mites and do so well with cannabis is that these plants are an excellent source of nutrition all the way around. But once the flowering stage begins, a feeding frenzy ensues with nutrients that can open the door to a spider mite explosion. And as any cannabis grower knows, if spider mites are still around during the flowering stage it will destroy the value of your plants entirely.
If you are diligent to inspect your plants on a daily basis you should be able to identify a spider mite infestation before flowering stage begins. This is the best time to catch it. If you can do so, eradicating spider mites becomes a two-step process. The first step is to mix a solution of water and horticulture soap, then turn your plants upside down and dip them in the solution, all the way to their base. This gives you 100% coverage and knocks almost all of the adult spider mites off the plants. It won’t do anything for the eggs, which is where step two comes in.
An organic miticide like Liquid Ladybug is a great product for this second step. Liquid ladybug uses a combination of essential oils to suffocate and kill spider mites on contact. Where eggs are concerned, they begin to crack a day or two before they completely hatch, leaving an open door for an organic miticide to seep in. All it takes is one crack in an egg shell for Liquid Ladybug to penetrate and kill the hatchling. Just remember that spider mites live on the undersides of plants leaves. In order to get the eggs you have to spray underneath.
If a spider mite infestation is discovered during flowering stage you have a bigger problem on your hands. You can’t dunk them in the soapy water like you can in the pre-flowering stage because you’ll kill the flowers. Fortunately, many organic miticides like Liquid Ladybug can be used all the way through flowering without any harm to your plants. The same can’t be said about most chemical miticides. If you’re going to use chemicals, be sure to read the instructions before applying them during flowering. If chemicals harm the flowers they could make the plants worthless.
Image Citation: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org
Nothing is more upsetting to a gardener than pouring endless hours of love and care into plants only to see them destroyed by spider mites. Those who love the roses are but one example. This beautiful plant has come to symbolize love and romance, long-lasting friendships, and all that is good in our lives. What a shame it is to see our roses come under attack from those tiny little pests.
Fortunately, while spider mites may be prolific and damaging, they are not invincible. With the right combination of treatments and some tender loving care, it is possible to eradicate an infestation without damaging your plans. The key however, is care. Roses are delicate plants that need to be treated properly if they are to retain their natural beauty.
Start with Watering
Spider mites love dry, warm conditions for several reasons. First of all, they have a hard time holding onto plant leaves and stems when they are wet. Secondly, and more importantly, is the fact that dry plant leaves are extremely nutritious for spider mites. In order to get the maximum benefit from their diets they will stay away from wet plants and search for the dry ones. Based on these two principles it should be clear why watering your roses is essential at the first signs of spider mite infestation.
When you water your plants, be sure to spray them gently with a bottle, using a fine mist. Gently lift up the leaps and spray underneath, as well as spraying the stems all the way to the soil. It would be helpful for you to use plenty of mulch in order to keep the soil damp at all times. Spider mites hate this – your roses will love it.
Since watering will not kill spider mites, you’ll need to get a miticide in order to finish the job. You can choose between chemical miticides (also known as pesticides or insecticides) or you can choose an organic substance. We suggest you go organic because it is effective without being harmful. Chemical miticides pose a risk to children, pets, and the surrounding environment; they also kill the spider mite’s natural predators which only increases the possibility of future infestations.
On the other hand, organic miticides kill spider mites on contact, kill hatchlings still in the eggs, and act as a deterrent to keep spider mites away in the future. Organic treatments are a proven and effective method for dealing with these pests.
Regardless of which type of miticide you choose, be sure to follow the directions exactly as written. Be careful when you spray so as not to over saturate. Also be sure to lift the leaves gently, just as you did during the watering process, so that your miticide can reach all areas. Finally, just as a warning, you probably won’t be able to use a chemical pesticide during the flowering period (an organic miticide won’t be a problem, though).
According to science there are approximately 1,200 species of spider mites around the world. These pests attack all sorts of vegetation in ways that are completely devastating, both economically and personally. And although all the species do have her differences they have one thing in common: their reproductive cycle is their strength.
Spider mites have an incredibly large number of natural predators. And because they have no defense mechanisms, they are wide open for any hungry predators looking for a meal. Where natural predators are in abundance spider mite populations are kept in check. But when natural predators are killed off by pesticides and insecticides, spider mites can reproduce at an alarming rate.
Two Types of Eggs
There are two types of eggs involved in the spider mite breeding cycle. The most common are the fertilized eggs which produce female spider mites; the second type is the unfertilized which produce the males. Whether by design or accident, more female eggs are produced than male eggs, helping the breeding cycle to continue. Under optimal conditions this could mean a lot of hatchlings in a very short amount of time.
The Breeding Cycle
The breeding cycle begins when an adult female makes her home on the underside of a plant leaf. As soon as she finds a spot she begins to move across the surface of the leaf, simultaneously feeding and laying eggs as she goes. She may also spin a fine web between a leaf and the plant stem in order to lay more eggs. The female spider mite is so good at laying eggs that she can potentially put down thousands in her lifetime.
Once eggs are laid they generally take only 3 to 5 days to hatch if temperature and humidity are optimal. Under less than optimal conditions it could be extended to 5 to 7 days. Usually a day or so before an egg is ready to completely hatch its outer shell begins to crack as the growing hatchling requires more space. When the egg finally does completely hatch the new spider mite emerges and reaches full maturity in about seven days.
If we assume optimal temperature and humidity levels, it becomes obvious that new female spider mites are ready to begin laying eggs only 10 days after their own eggs were laid by their mother. If we assume 50% of the eggs laid are female, and the mother puts down 750 in a week, that means 375 new mothers laying eggs just 10 days later. Multiply this by the average 30-day life cycle and you have a potential nightmare.
Spider mites only survive because of their sheer numbers. But by using an organic miticide like Liquid Ladybug you can gain the upper hand by stopping the breeding cycle. Since liquid Ladybug kills adult spider mites and hatchlings alike, three applications over the course of several days should be all you need to bring an end to your spider mite infestation.
Figure 1. Life cycle of Acarus siro, including egg, 6-legged larva, 8-legged protonymph, deutonymph (hypopus), 8-legged tritonymph, adult male and adult female (larger than male). Image: Solomon, M.E. 1962. Ecology of the flour mite, Acarus siro L. (= Tyroglyphus farinea DeG.). Annals of Applied Biology 50: 178-184. http://www.ontariocheese.org/images/cheese_mites.jpg
Spider mites are pesky little creatures that have a way of ruining green houses and gardens all over North America. There are over 1,000 different species of spider mites; the twospotted species being the most common here in States. However, there is a dark reddish variation that loves fruit trees and fruiting plants. If you have tomatoes you need to be ever watchful for these red spider mites. They can decimate a tomato crop in a very short amount of time.
Because tomato plants can grow extremely large and heavy, treating them requires you to be thorough and patient. That means whether you use water, household products, organic miticides, or chemical pesticides, you need to make sure you take the time to do it right. If you miss just one small portion of an infested plant you are leaving the door wide open for eggs to hatch and the breeding process to begin all over again.
The experts say you should always start with watering on the first signs of infestation. Spider mites and water don’t get along all that well. Sometimes, if an infestation is minor, watering can be enough to eradicate it. More often than not this won’t be the case for moderate to large tomato plants. In such a case you will almost always have to use some sort of substance to kill existing mites and eggs.
Killing Spider Mites
Many home gardeners suggest things like neem oil, tobacco juice, soapy water, and even coffee. These home remedies have been known to work from time to time due to the fact that spider mites are very sensitive to their environments. However, whether these substances actually kill the mites or just drive them away is a matter of debate. If you want to make sure they are completely eradicated you should look for a commercial product designed specifically to both kill adults and deal with the eggs.
For tomatoes, a good product is Liquid Ladybug. We can assure you that it is completely safe because it is an organic substance made from the essential oils of certain plants. To use liquid ladybug you simply spray your plants in their entirety; this will kill all the adults and penetrate any eggs that have already begun to crack. Then you do two more treatments over the course of three days to ensure that all of the eggs are eventually dealt with as they go through their maturation process. If you follow the instructions you should completely eradicate spider mites from your tomatoes within 3 to 5 days.
After that you can work to prevent future infestations by using a combination of watering and periodic applications of Liquid Ladybug. During the peak season you may need to apply liquid Ladybug every 21 to 30 days. Outside of the peak season an application every couple of months will probably be sufficient. Just follow the instructions on the packaging and you shouldn’t have any further problems with spider mites.
Image Citation: Clemson University – USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series, Bugwood.org
Anyone who’s ever had experience with spider mites knows that failing to control them could mean disaster for houseplants and gardens. Because these insects breed so prolifically it’s important to get a handle on an infestation in its early stages, before populations explode. There are several ways to do this including natural methods, organic miticide, and chemical pesticides. Which method is right for you depends upon the seriousness of your infestation and your personal comfort level with chemicals.
The first spider mite treatment option is to use natural methods that incorporate water and natural predators. The water portion of the treatment involves liberal watering of plant stems and leaves upon the earliest signs of infestation, and then continued watering until the infestation is eliminated. Watering is important because it keeps mites off your plants. However, it does not kill the mites, which is where the second portion of the treatment comes in.
Ladybugs are one of the spider mites natural predators. You can purchase ladybugs from suppliers who specialize in natural pest control. By releasing ladybugs into the environment you will be able to get rid of most of your spider mites without causing any harm to children, pets, etc. If your infestation is completely indoors, and releasing ladybugs or other predators is not attractive to you, the second treatment option is probably better.
The second option is to use an organic miticide like Liquid Ladybug. This kind of product uses a formula made from the essential oils of certain plants. These oils are deadly to spider mites but are harmless to predators, as well as human beings and our pets.
When applied to plants that are infested the organic miticide kills adult mites on contact by penetrating the outer shell and disintegrating their inner parts. These essential oils are also able to seep into small cracks in spider mite eggs and kill hatchlings in the same way. By using something like Liquid Ladybug over the course of three days, you can completely eliminate most spider mite infestations.
Chemical pesticides are often used by farmers and those with extremely large gardens in order to control very sizable infestations. While this is certainly possible, it should be reserved only for large-scale operations. Chemical pesticides not only kill spider mites, they also kill the mite’s natural predators, which only help future colonies reproduce more successfully. Chemical pesticides also pose a potential danger to your children, your pets, and groundwater.
Once a spider might infestation has been eliminated you can best prevent future infestations with a combination of natural methods and organic miticide. If you continue to inspect leaves daily, spray them with water, and use your organic miticide according to the directions, you should be able to stave off future problems.
Perhaps you have heard of spider mites in relation to damaged house plants; perhaps you’ve even dealt with spider mite infestations yourself. But were you aware that there are more than one species of spider mite? There’s actually about 1,200 species within the Acari family of arachnids. And as arachnids, spider mites are not insects – even though we commonly refer to them as such.
Spider mites get their name not because they resemble spiders – many don’t in fact – but because they spin beautiful and complex webs that can resemble fine silk. The big difference between the spider mite and their more well-known cousins is that the mite uses the web as a means of transportation and a medium to lay eggs in. Spiders, on the other hand, mostly use their webs catch prey.
Tetranychus urticae, known more commonly as the twospotted spider mite is the most well-known and the most prolific. It has a fierce reputation for being able to destroy large amounts of vegetation with little effort. It is also the species that most commonly invades house plants and gardens in North America. Although they can barely be seen by the naked eye, under a microscope you could definitely identify them by the two spots on either side of their bodies.
These particular spider mites love warm and dry weather because it’s optimal for both their breeding and their feeding. In terms of their breeding cycle, if temperature and humidity are just right a colony can go from a small number of spider mites to thousands in a very short period of time. In terms of their feeding, plant structures undergo certain chemical changes when they began to dry out, thereby providing a source of “super food” optimized for spider might health and breeding.
Two more of the most well-known spider mites include panonychus citri and panonychus ulmi. Both will attack all sorts of vegetation though they favor fruit trees. Panonychus ulmi, in particular, is a European variety of spider mite that is dark red in color. This mite is as prolific in southwestern Europe as the twospotted spider mite is in North America. It has an extremely quick breeding cycle which can result in thousands of offspring from a single female.
Though there are thousands of species of spider mites they all have two things in common: they reproduce very quickly and they eat voraciously. Their breeding cycle is the key to their survival especially when you consider they have so many natural predators. In other words, spider mites survive simply by sheer numbers. That’s why using chemical pesticides is not necessarily the best way to deal with them.
If you are suffering a spider mite infestation in your home or garden, we recommend you use an organic miticide like Liquid Ladybug. Liquid Ladybug will help you eradicate spider mites without harming natural predators and it will not pose a danger to your children and pets.
Image Citation: Frank Peairs, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org
Image Citation: Jim Baker, North Carolina State University, Bugwood.org