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