Since these insects are out to gorge plant juices, your most-prized garden is likely to be their main course, instead of those unwanted weeds you pull out every day. They’re every gardener’s worse nightmare.
There are many kinds of spider mites, but watch out for the two-spotted spider mites. These little arachnids are barely visible pests. Armed with a magnifying glass, you need to inspect your plants to confirm their existence.
You can actually see that there are two dark spots on the creature’s abdomen. The spots you see are the plant juices being digested by the insects. The colour of two-spotted spider mites depends on the environment. They are normally dark to pale green and, sometimes, translucent yellow. Females who try to remain alive during winter may be reddish-orange in colour.
Female two-spotted spider mites can lay about 200 eggs in just a ten-day period. It takes only five days for the eggs to develop into a mature adult, resulting in a quick population explosion. More than seven generations can sprout within the summer months. The females are born with two sets of chromosomes, which make it possible for her to produce males, even without mating. It’s life’s awesome cruelty that pests have an astonishing reproduction rate. Now, it’s time to identify their existence among your plants.
Tell-Tale Signs Your Garden Is Infested
# Stippling Patterns – Stippling is defined as engraving consisting of dots. If the leaves of your plants have brownish small dots all over, these dots are the impressions left by mites whenever they pierce the leaf to suck plant juices. Severe attacks on leaves are usually yellow or bronze in colour.
# Curling Leaves – Since the mites suck out juices, the leaves eventually dry out. This is when the leaves curl inwards or outwards. These are signs that severe damage is already on its way. Once the damage reaches a certain level, the leaves will drop off because photosynthesis is stopped and carbon dioxide can’t be processed anymore. Healthy leaves are synonymous to healthy plants.
# White Webbing – You have to flip the leaves and see if there are white webs on the underside. These are silk threads that the mites use to get around the plants. In severe infestations, these webs are known to wrap up the entire plant.
Once you’re able to spot the existence of spider mites, there are three controls that can help you get rid of them: mechanical, biological and chemical controls.
Mechanical Mite Controls
Plant Isolation – There is a saying that you don’t mix rotten mangoes with the healthy ones. The same measure must be applied to infested plants. Air never remains still and changes in temperature cause the mites to move from one plant to another.
The mites are also known to have numerous means of transport. They use strands of silken threads to drop down from leaves, like Tarzan, swinging from one plant to another. These mites are eight-legged, so walking is never a problem for them. It’s a must to isolate or quarantine your infested plants to save the healthy ones.
Cold Water – Get a hose and shoot a stream of cold or ice water to knock off the mites from the plants. Mites love damp environments, but spraying them with cold water would give them major discomfort. Be careful that the stream of water is not too powerful, so as not to damage your plants. Don’t forget to spray the undersides of the leaves.
It’s best if you move the plant to another location before you spray cold water on it, because mites might climb and seek refuge on other plants. It’s a known fact that spraying cold water can also drown some of the mites, if not all of them. If you do this every day for a week, the mites will be forced to leave because of the hostile environment you create.
Shade Them Up – If possible, try keeping your plants away from arid weather and make sure they don’t get hit by the late afternoon sun. Providing the plants with some shade during very warm days will help protect the plants weakened by spider mites. You can also set a humidifier in the area where your plants are to increase the amount of water vapour in the air. For more info or advice goes to GC PEST CONTROL.