Thursday, July 19, 2018

Stressing over spider mites? Learn how easy it can be to get control of this pest in 5 easy steps.

Spider mites are a sworn enemy to growers and can cause great damage and stress. 

But why fret when there are simple ways to make controlling and combating these pests easy? 

Easy? Yes!  If you take the rights steps, are proactive and have the necessary tools, you can manage spider mites and do it without chemicals.


These five steps will help you see how simple spider mite control really is:

1) Be prepared. Keep an eye on susceptible crops. While this might seem obvious, noticing changes in your plants’ health can be a great marker to alert you before an infestation sets in. Healthy plants have higher brix levels and are less likely to attract pests. In addition, avoiding growing conditions such as tight container spacing and drought stress will reduce susceptibility. 

2) Know what spider mite damage looks like. Damage on plants can include small yellow-brown spots on leaves (stippling), curling, leaf drop and the telltale spider sign, webbing. Seeing these pests with the naked eye is difficult as they are small, but not impossible. If you don’t have access to a microscope, place a piece of white paper under affected leaves and gently shake them. If you see what looks like reddish-brown specs of pepper on you paper, you’ve got mites! 


Spider mite damage on plant

3) If you can, identify what type of spider mite you have.
This will help you to better select the right control measures. This can be a tricky task, and a tool such as the Active Eye 60X Clip-On Phone Microscope can be helpful to have on hand. If you aren’t sure what kind they are, give us a call and our consultants will be glad to help you!


4) Let the battle begin. If you can suffer the loss, the best measure for control would be to remove and dispose of the affected plant or plant tissue. Of course, this is rarely an option so that’s when we suggest you bring out the “big guns” – sanitation, growing condition supports, knock-down insecticides and beneficial insects. Let’s break down this strategy and show you a path to successful control:

  • Sanitation: This is an easily overlooked step. Wash all surfaces of your growing areas. When planting, choose organic, locally-sourced soil mediums and inspect plants for mites before planting.
  • Boost optimal growing conditions: Support your plants’ health to aid them in the fight! Reduce water and nutrient stresses by boosting absorption with a product like Therm X-70. Organic fertilizers break down slowly and help to avoid nutrient-based stress. 
  • Knockdown & Chemical Control: Treat existing spider mite populations with organic knockdown sprays if allowed. Naturally derived insecticide sprays like Neem Oil, Pyrethrins, Azadirachtin and Horticultural Oil can be sprayed directly onto adult mites, larvae, nymphs and eggs to kill on contact. Repeat applications at 3-day intervals until control is achieved. Horticultural oils can also be applied to overwintering sites to reduce egg populations the following season. Do not apply oil sprays to plants in high temperatures (>80°) or intense lighting.
P. persimilis attacking pest mite
  • Biological Control: Ideal for spider mite control during flowering. Introduce Beneficial Insects after knocking down spider mites for continued control. Green lacewing and ladybugs are helpful, but spider mite predators are best (P. persimilis, N. californicus). Match your growing conditions with the mite predators’ optimal conditions and time releases with other integrated pest management approaches.

5) Enjoy your success and continue to monitor pest populations. Keep an eye out for insect enemies, then relax knowing that you have all the tools at hand to win the next battle. Controlling spider mites can be easy if you are prepared! 

Rest assured knowing that ARBICO Organics is your ally in this and we are always ready to assist you with all your growing needs! 

- Contributed by Aurora @ ARBICO Organics

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