Mites are small sap-sucking pests that infest plants that are commonly grown in homes and gardens. Although they are arachnids, they are not exactly spiders. The common name of these mites comes from their habit of making fabrics in the lower part of the leaves where they lay eggs and live their lives.
They have a short lifespan of only two to four weeks, but the females begin to lay twenty eggs per day within the week of their birth. These eggs hatch in just three days, unleashing a new batch every day. So every female spider manages to leave behind a large litter that can cause tremendous damage to a plant quite quickly. Since they have a high turnover of generations, they quickly become resistant to chemical pesticides.
Unlike the infestations of aphids and scales that are easily noticed, mite infestations are difficult to detect, since the mites are less than 1 mm in size and remain mainly in the lower part of the leaves. The telltale signs of infestation are white or yellow spots on the leaves and a network of silk threads at the bottom of the leaves. The foliage may eventually die and fall.
Warm and dry conditions, as is usually found in air-conditioned interiors, seem to further exacerbate mite infestations. If you find that the plants in your home are not thriving, or you are discouraged for no apparent reason, take them with a magnifying glass. Hold a white piece of paper under the foliage and shake the plant lightly. Observe the small specks on the paper with the lens. If you see eight-legged creatures moving, you have mites.
In the garden, the mite infestation is exacerbated during the spring and summer months. Eggs can hibernate in fallen leaves and dry twigs in the garden. They hatch when the weather warms and the nymphs look for their host plants. Melons, strawberries, tomatoes, aubergines and beans are the favorite hosts for mites. The nymphs mature in a few days and begin to reproduce.
These mites can not fly, but they are windsurfers; They ride their nets and land on distant plants. Females can produce male offspring from unfertilized eggs, so a single female can start a colony at any time. Unless control measures are taken soon enough, they can become a big problem in a garden.
Chemical control of mites:
Chemical control involves spraying plants infested with miticides, but these contact poisons must reach the bottom of the leaves to be effective. Repeated applications at short intervals may be necessary for control, but there is a risk that the mites develop resistance to chemicals. In addition, they will kill predatory mites and beneficial insects that offer a certain amount of biological control.
Natural remedies to combat mites:
Natural remedies are preferable in orchards and for inside plants, not only because they are safer, but they seem to be more effective in the case of mites. Complete eradication may not be possible, and you may need to use more than one strategy to keep them under control.
1. Spray clean the plants.
Fumigation of plants is a very effective way to dislodge mites from plants. Use a strong jet of water, making sure you get to the bottom of the leaves where the mites and their eggs remain hidden in their nets. An error blaster attachment can help evict you. Weekly fumigation in the hot months should keep the infestation under control.
For some reason, moisture conditions seem to discourage mites. Regularly cleaning the foliage of the indoor plants with fine dew or with cotton moistened in warm water helps to control them. Put them under a shower from time to time or submerge the entire pot, plant and everything, in a large tub of warm water. When the weather is warm, take the house plants outside and give them a full soak.
2. Keep the plants clean and tidy.
Walk through the garden frequently, checking the bottom of the sheets to see if there are silk straps. Remove yellowed leaves and prune unhealthy branches. If some plants are tired and have mottled or curly leaves, they are likely to be very infested. Pull them out and throw them away in the trash.
3. Autumn cleaning the garden.
Keeping the garden free of dried leaves and other debris reduces mite hibernation sites. If you suspect mite infestation on your plants, do not add that garden waste to the compost pile. Burn it in place or throw it away in plastic garbage bags.
4. Neem oil spray
Periodically soaking plants and soil underneath with a spray of neem oil helps control mites and other sap sucking insects. Neem oil is not a contact poison; It does not kill bugs instantly. What it does is interfere with its biological functions, especially reproduction and metamorphosis in arthropods.
Soaking the soil with a neem solution is important because the plants absorb the active agents in the oil and express it in their tissues. When pests suck the sap, they wreak havoc on their metabolism and life cycle, ensuring lasting action.
To make a 1% neem spray for pest control:
2 teaspoons of neem oil 1/3 teaspoon of dishwasher detergent 1 quart of warm water
Mix them in a spray can and shake well. Use within 6-8 hours of the mixture. To make a 0.5% neem spray for preventive use, add only 1 teaspoon per liter of water.
For large-scale use in the garden, mix 6.5 ounces of neem oil and 5 teaspoons of dishwashing liquid in 4 gallons of water. Use it as soon as possible, taking care to spray on the bottom of the leaves and on the ground.
5. Use biological control agents.
Predatory mites belonging to the Phytoseiidae family, Phytoseiulus persimilis In particular, they are excellent for controlling mites. These mites are larger and move faster than mites, and they eat their eggs, larvae and adults. Other beneficial insects, such as bugs and wings, can also help control the infestation.
Biological control is generally more effective in situations where pest populations are not too high. Then, in case you are releasing predators to control the mites, do so after you have knocked down the population with other measures of organic control.
6. Horticultural oil.
Horticultural oil is another comparatively safer preventive measure that can be used against spider mites. It is directed against the eggs that spend the winter, especially in the fruit trees. Horticultural oil It contains mainly paraffin waxes that form a layer on the tissues of plants, creating a barrier for pests. It also kills insect eggs and soft-bodied larvae and adult insects by suffocating them. Spray the leaves and trunks of trees with oil in early spring or late fall to reduce mite infestation the following season.
7. Harpin Alpha Beta protein (Halo / Axiom / Messenger)
This is a bacterial protein that can initiate plant defense responses when sprayed on them. It makes the plants more resistant to pest attacks, even those of mites. Available in powder form, it must be mixed with water at the doses recommended by the manufacturers and sprayed on the plants. It is generally considered safe, but full data on its possible toxicity and environmental impact are not available.
Although it may not be possible to protect the plants in your garden completely from these pests, keeping plants healthy and avoiding water stress would greatly help prevent large-scale infestations. Once a mite infestation is observed, organic treatments should be repeated frequently to control them. New indoor plants should be well sprayed with water and controlled by mites before introducing them.
Reference: https://www.naturallivingideas.com/how-to-get-rid-of-red-spider-mites/, by Susan Patterson
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