Spider mites are common pest problems on many plants around yards and gardens. Damaged areas typically appear marked with many small, light flecks, giving the plant a somewhat speckled appearance. |
Spider mites frequently kill plants or cause serious stress to them. Considered a serious nuisance outdoors and on houseplants, this pest is tough to see until plant injury occurs. Spider mites congregate on the underside of leaves, sip on plant fluids and remove chlorophyll. Visible signs include webbing and white or yellow speckles on leaves; defoliation occurs in severe cases.
To rid your garden of spider mites organically, learn what conditions favor this pest and consider both control measures and preventive strategies. Items you will need:
1. White paper 2. Magnifying lens 3. Hose with spray nozzle 4. Water 5. Sponge 6. Spray bottle 7. Natural oils 8. Dishwashing soap
Step 1: Confirm spider mites are on the plant by holding a stem and lightly shaking the leaf over white paper. Spider mites feed on the underside of leaves and are difficult to see with the naked eye. Observe the specks on the paper with a magnifying lens. Spider mites move slowly, have eight legs and are red, yellow, brown or green. The twospotted spider mite, identified by the spots on its back, is particularly troublesome.
Step 2: Dislodge and kill spider mites with water. Attach a spray nozzle on the hose and direct a high-pressure stream of water on the undersides of leaves. For houseplants, wet a sponge and wipe each leaf.
Step 3: Remove heavily infested leaves. Place leaves in a plastic bag and discard. If spider mites cover a houseplant, consider discarding the entire plant. This prevents the pests from infesting other plants in the vicinity
Step 4: Spray leaves with a solution of rosemary oil or rosemary oil-based pesticide. Rosemary essential oil is effective against spider mites and does not harm the beneficial predatory mite, Phytoseiulus persimilis.
Step 5: Spray a soap solution on plant leaves. Mix 3 tbsp. of dishwashing soap into a gallon of water. Pour the solution into a spray bottle and apply to the foliage, especially the undersides of the leaves. Reapply in six days if spider mites continue to feed on the plant. Some plants are more sensitive to soap solutions than others; leaves with more hairs hold solutions longer, increasing the chances of leaf burning. Test the solution on a small portion of the plant before spraying the entire plant.
Step 6: Encourage beneficial insects and arachnids that prey on spider mites. The predator mites snack on spider mites; they look similar to spider mites, but move faster. Other beneficial predators include lady beetles (Stethorus picipes), minute pirate bug species and sixspotted thrips
Step 7: Boost the health of your plants -- stressed plants are more vulnerable to spider mites. In dry and dusty conditions, spider mites are thirsty and cause more injury. Provide proper amounts of water and nutrients to your plants; ensure that soils drain well and that plants receive optimal light.
When attempting control, treat all susceptible house plants at the same time. Trim, bag and remove heavily infested leaves and discard severely infested plants.
For more useful ideas and assistance on the control, check out our main page here:
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