Friday, September 14, 2018

Mite Problems Are A Thing of the Past, Unless...

Summer gardeners will be intimately acquainted with mites of all kinds – spider mites, broad mites and russet mites to name a few. The departure from the summer heat marks a break from mite control for most. Unfortunately, not all growing environments are equal. A northern outdoor gardener may be delighted by their chance to plant fall crops without the worry of mite incursion; a northern greenhouse grower may need to hit the brakes a bit on that delight.

We like to warm things up to extend the growing season and these temperatures are the main influencing factor on whether pests will find your grow attractive or not. Extending the growing season also means extending the pest season, especially in warm climates, greenhouses and indoor growing areas. Some of this can be mitigated by increasing humidity in the growing area, but that may also increase the risk of cultivating fungal diseases. Boosting airflow in the area can keep mites from settling in, but that may dry out the plants and blow your beneficial insects away from where they do their best.

So what do we do if we want a longer growing season, but don’t want to risk creating other problems along the way? The answer, as always, is be prepared and act early. 

If potted plants or raised beds are preferred, apply Tangle-Trap or Stiky Stuff around the pot rims and bed sidings to trap any sneaky travelers making their way upward. If your plants are mature enough, a thin coating around the base of the stem/trunk can be helpful too.

Greenhouses have an assortment of hideouts for would be mite problems – joints, small grooves in the structure, detritus on the ground. Take the opportunity to sanitize your growing area as temperatures cool. This can be done with a hydrogen peroxide solution sprayed onto target areas, but for those of us that don’t want that hassle there are many products available to help growers clean up and avoid ongoing mite problems.

In the event that mites are spotted sucking the life out of your precious plants, introduce mite predators to do the dirty work for you. Predatory mites seek out their prey and use them to fuel the ongoing hunt. If you time it right, you can maintain control without spraying a thing.

There is no one size fits all solution to any pest problem and mites can be trickier than most. The best and easiest approach is to be an attentive grower, so you can make educated decisions before the problem gets out of hand. If you have questions about what you are seeing, we encourage you to send us a picture at or call us at 1-800-827-2847. Our biocontrol specialists are happy to help you identify the culprit!

Contributed by Sterling North

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