Tag Archives: spider mites

Beneficial Bugs: Predatory Mites vs Spider Mites.

miteswestern_predatoryOrder: Acarina. Family: Phytoseiidae

There are good mites and bad mites, they are both the same minute size (almost undetectable with the naked eye) and they can change color in response to their prey, so it is next to impossible to tell the good guys from the bad guys. About the only way to tell is if you observe mite webs on your plants and your plants look like the leaves have been sucked dry of their juices, you have the bad mites. Spray those with a garlic spray to get rid of them.

Predatory mites are happiest in humid conditions, so you won’t see them in the Southwest much. They are often smaller than the prey they eat, but you can attract them with pollen-rich plants.

SpiderMiteWebsAs we mentioned above, there are good mites and bad and you can really only tell them apart by the damage they do to your plants. (Read above.) Spider mites will also create web-like threads all over your plant leaves which will start to look speckled like the mites are sucking the juices from the leaves, which is exactly what they are doing.

Spray the front and back of all leaves with a garlic spray. Neem oil sprays work as well. Take the plant outside if it is a potted plant, wash the leaves and mites off with a powerful blast of water, relocate the plant so the mites don’t just crawl back on it after hosing them off, then spray it well with the garlic or neem oil.

Let it sit outside for a couple days for the mites to get discouraged by the spray and move their operations elsewhere.

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Natural Insect and Disease Control: Spider Mites.

spidermite-webSpider mites are so tiny, you will likely not notice them until you see their webs all over your plants and the plant looking diminished like the sap has been sucked out of the leaves.

Some agricultural sprays and products will actually encourage spider mites in orchards and on plants. Sprays with copper and zinc will increase the numbers of citrus red mites. Nitrogen-rich fertilizers increases the number of red mites and two-spotted spider mites. The citrus rust mite likes copper.

Spider mites are very sensitive to any changes in their habitat and predators and some chemicals have been found to upset the natural balance that keeps mites in check. They favor hot, dry weather, so keeping plants well watered and using an overhead watering system will help keep them in check.

Homemade spray for control: Dr. G. Edward Marshall of Purdue University found mixing wheat flour with buttermilk coats the mites and suffocates them with their hind ends up in the air. They get stuck in the glue-like mixture and some of the mites appeared to have exploded when the mixture dried. He made his mix thick enough to stick to surfaces but thin enough to spray through a high-pressured sprayer. You will probably have to experiment with your spraying equipment and the consistency of the mixture to get it to work with your equipment.

The ladybug is also a natural predator of mites.

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