Spider mites are the most commonly-occurring pests among plants. These mites infect the outdoor plants as well, but the indoor plants are a significant target. Since plant enthusiasts spend their leisure time in gardening, these spider mites can cause a significant problem for them. The guide below will be helpful for you to understand what these mites are, what might be the causes of their occurrence, the steps taken to prevent and stop their spread, and how to get rid of spider mites during flowering. These measures will help a gardener to identify the problem in its early stage and take appropriate steps accordingly.
What Are Spider Mites
Spider mites, in their true sense, are not insects. These are the plant dwelling arthropods present on the underside of leaves in the form of colonies, especially of the vegetable farms. These are designated as a type of arachnid, related to the families of spiders, scorpions, and ticks. Most of the species of spider mite (family: Tetranychidae) are commonly seen in North America. They can cast a drastic effect on the greenhouses. Spider mites vary in sizes as well as in color, though their average size is less than 1 mm. The color ranges from reddish-brown to pale yellow during their life span. They lay small, spherical eggs that are transparent in their initial stage and a lot of species grow silk webbing to help protect the colony from predators. They can barely be seen with naked eyes. However, mare details can be visible under a magnifier.
Why They Are Dangerous
Spider mites damage a plant by penetrating the tissue and sucking the chlorophyll –the life-giving part of a plant as well as the sap of a plant that is present inside the plant’s cells. The punctures made by mites present as tiny yellow or brown spots surrounded by a yellowing leaf. As feeding continues, the leaves change color from yellow to pale, eventually dry up, and drop off.
Where And How Do Spider Mites Grow
Hot and dry weather conditions are known to be more favorable for the growth of spider mites. These can be more commonly seen in areas where the farmer or plant growers use an excessive amount of insecticides.
The process of multiplication of spider mites is quicker since each female lays more than 200 eggs. This life cycle repeats every eight days in hot and dry conditions such as a conservatory. The mode of transportation of the spider mites is through humans and wind in outdoor gardens. They remain dormant during cold weather conditions and become active during the hotter seasons.
What Causes Spider Mites
Before we move on and discuss how to get rid of spider mites during flowering, let us talk about what causes them in the first place. It will make it easier for you to understand how to deal with them later. The following can be the causes of infestation by the spider mites during flowering:
- Bringing up a new plant and introducing it to already existing collection without inspecting it properly and getting it debugged.
- Not properly showering or watering the plants, as dry conditions are more favorable for these mites.
- The air inside the living room is not humid enough for the particular plant to survive and grow healthy.
- Keeping the plants in direct, hot sunlight, instead of using curtains or blinds during the hottest times of a day.
- A plant may have come in contact with an infected plant. Hence, multiplication infects the other plant as well.
How Can You Prevent A Spider Mite Attack
By following the steps listed below, one can prevent their houseplants from getting infected by spider mites:
- Use cold water to keep house plants hydrated and clean regularly.
- Dust the houseplants using a damp piece of cloth; carefully clean both sides of leaves, especially the lower surface.
- Use a powerful spray nozzle to spray on the leaves directly.
- Create a humid environment for the plant. If the flower pot is a deep one, make sure to fill up the platter with water. This water will evaporate to provide enough humidity for your plant. This is called the pebble-tray method.
- Purchase predatory mites to prevent spider mites.
- Use curtains or blinds to prevent the plant from direct sunlight.
- Avoid exposure to excessive heat.
- The application of Neem oil has reportedly been a beneficial home remedy for plants. You can wipe and clean the leaves with this oil to prevent an attack.
- Complete debugging of a new plant before taking it home.
How To Get Rid Of Spider Mites
Coming towards the question of the day, “How to get rid of spider mites during flowering”. Dealing with spider mites is difficult, but with careful observation and proper knowledge, it can be done. Soon after the detection of the spider mites on the plants during its flowering stage, farmers use natural controls and home remedies as well as chemical agents to get rid of them.
Natural ways of doing this include isolating the infected plant and then washing the leaves with a powerful spray. A considerable amount of water pressure must be used. This procedure has to be repeated at least 3 to 4 times a week.
In addition to washing, another way to fight a spider mite attack is to introduce a natural predator to the infected plant. This could be a ladybug or any other parasitic mite. These agents are available at well-known nurseries, and they must be bought depending upon the type of plant as well as the season. Predator ants can also be used to prevent spider mites. Other natural predators that are also used are as follows:
- Minute pirate bug
- Big-eye bug
Chemical agents include insecticidal oil and “miticide”. These agents have an extra affinity to other mites in addition to spider mites. The agent should fully cover the surface of the leaves.
In addition to the ways listed above, there are several other ways to get rid of spider mites. These include:
These are also an option when the spider mite situation is getting out of control. In addition to being used to kill mites, it can kill the other insects as well. It can also damage other plants if they spread in the air. The application of sulfur spray is a temperature-sensitive procedure and should be done very carefully.
Homemade sprays are also effective when it comes to fighting spider mites on your favorite plants. These include:
- Lemon water spray.
- Insecticidal soap spray.
- Alcohol water spray.
Pruning is another method used to control the spread of spider mites. This procedure includes the physical removal of insects from leaves by hand or by using a low power vacuum tube. If hands are used, the leaves have to be crippled. In the case of vacuum usage, the content must be contained in a sealed plastic bag that must be dumped off using proper safety measures.
Essential oil, most commonly Neem oil, is also used to get rid of spider mites. It is diluted with normal water and then used on the plant. This technique is most commonly used in house-hold settings, and it is a popular home remedy.
While spider mites are every plant owner’s nightmare, they should not be intimidating. The guide above will help you understand these insects better, prevent their visits, and learn how to get rid of spider mites during flowering.