Early Signs Of Spider Mites
What are spider mites?
Spider mites are not insects and are generally more closely related to spiders. They belong to the class Arachnida (arachnids).
How can the infestation be identified?
Spider mites are usually noticed when they see the silky webs. When spider mites infest the leaves of a plant, they damage plant tissue, leaving areas of yellowing and deadness that spread, eventually affecting the entire leaf. The leaf turns yellow, wilts and eventually falls off. Other mite species include those that do not spin webs and live in the bud ends of the plant, where damage is not revealed until the tips unfurl.
Early Signs Of Spider Mites
Spider mites like most evil creatures hate the light. So, they begin their carnage on the leaves’ undersides.
You’d notice discoloration or fading of the leaves’ colour at the undersides.
The infestation will leave behind bronzish coloured spots on the leaves’ undersides. You’d also observe holes on the leaves.
Spider mites are a part of the arachnid family, but they don’t have attacking fangs like regular spiders. Spider mites have an organ in their mouth that they use to suck the sap from your plant’s leaves.
When spider mites suck enough of the sap out of the leaves they will turn bronzish and yellow and eventually fall off.
It’s pretty hard to spot spider mites and the damage they’re causing to your plants, especially when they’re in low numbers.
It’s because both the spider mites and their first signs of damage are hidden from your direct line of sight.
To examine your plants for spider mites, you’d need to turn the leaves over and check the underside.
Use the magnifying feature on your phone or a handheld magnifying glass to check the bottom of your leaves.
You can also hold a sheet of paper underneath the leaves and give them a shake. If you have mites some of them will fall off onto the paper.
Spider mites are tiny. An adult can only grow to a maximum of 1.7mm. Some are only the size of the period sign at the end of this sentence.
Spider mites can be orangish, reddish, or green.
Tiny size and mixing up well with the leaves’ colour makes them hard to spot without a magnifying glass.
When you examine spider mites with a magnifying device, you’ll find them moving around on the bottom of the leaf’s surface.
If you watch the mites super closely, you’ll also notice one or two dark patches on their back.
You may even be able to see the eggs if your magnifier is powerful enough.
These tiny creatures with sucking organs for mouths can destroy cannabis plants indoors and in outdoor gardens.
They can also infest your entire greenhouse pretty quickly.
At the early stages of a spider mite infestation, you’ll see clusters of webs on your plant’s leaves.
Dying and dead leaves falling off the plants are also early signs of spider mites breeding.
How to fight the infestation?
Spider mites have a variety of natural enemies that can be used to combat them.
Each female spider mite lays 10-20 eggs per day. During its entire life cycle of up to 4 weeks, it comes to a total of 80 – 120. The eggs usually stick to the silk web and the six-legged larvae hatch after 3 – 15 days. The newly hatched larvae are almost colourless and have bright red eyes. Within 4-5 days they moult three times, transforming first into a protonymph (first nymph), then into a deutonymph (second nymph), and finally into an adult. Both the adult and the nymphs have 8 legs.
The first visible signs of an infestation are small yellowish or whitish spots, especially around the main and larger leaf veins. As these spots enlarge and merge together, the empty cells give some areas of the leaf a whitish or silvery-transparent appearance.
Prevention of Spider Mites
To minimize the risk and rapid spread of a spider mite infestation, try reducing the temperature (below 25°C) and increasing the humidity (above 60%). This slows the rate of reproduction. However, higher humidity is required for the enemies of the spider mite. Also, keep your growing areas clean and remove all leaf litter. Adequate watering is also important, as plants that suffer from a lack of water are more likely to suffer damage.
Treating Spider Mite infestation
If you spot spider mites, remove the infested leaves. Rinse the plant thoroughly with a mixture of alcohol and soap. Repeat this treatment several times a week.
You can also use natural enemies: predatory mites, ladybugs, predatory beetles and lacewings.
The process of exterminating spider mites organically is relatively simple.
You should refrain from using pesticides or insecticides.
You’ll understand why to avoid pesticides and insecticides in a minute, but for now, let’s get into what you can do to exterminate the spider mites that are a threat to your cannabis plants.
Step #1 – Quarantine Infected Plants
This step is applicable to potted plants in your garden and indoors.
Quarantine the plants infested by spider mites. Take them away from healthy plants.
Step #2 – Water Your Plants
Spider mites can be easily killed even with just plain water.
Spider mites usually move in when the area or plant is sufficiently dry for them to thrive. They can also be a sign of underwatering.
So, the first step to killing spider mites is to water the plants.
Make sure you saturate the leaves and stems when watering using a misting sprayer.
Be on the lookout for a cluster of eggs that spider mites attach to the stems and the leaves. Spray enough water to remove the web clusters as well.
To add more punch to it, add a little bit of soap to the water.
Soapy water is a quick homemade substitute spider mite killer. It also exterminates wood mites that infest plants as well.
To be proactive and to prevent further attacks by mites, ensure that you keep the leaves moist by misting your plants often.
Step #3 – Clean Your Garden And Yard
Remember, spider mites love to hide underneath foliage and debris on dry soil beds.
So, you must keep your home garden tidy and slightly moist.
That’ll stop the spider mites from breeding.
Step #4 – Reduce the number of Fertilizers
Fertilizers are going to be necessary, at times, for plants’ health and vigorous growth.
But overuse of fertilizers is counterproductive.
Over-fertilizing doesn’t only damage the soil (because it elevates the phosphorous in your soil) but also damages the plants making them more susceptible to mites.
Step #5 – Introduce Predatory Mites
There are many predators found in nature that feed on spider mites that you can use to kill spider mites.
These predators that feed on spider mites are safe for people, pets, and plants.
They’re pests but they are beneficial to your garden since they eat many damaging pests like aphids, moths, spider mites and many more.
Neoseiulus (Amblyseius) Californicus, is a predatory mite that kills and eat plant pests including spider mites.
When it comes to predatory mites, P. persimilis is also a great option.
These predators will devour any spider mites that may be hiding after the first four steps.
Or, you can just skip the previous steps and just use these predatory mites as the first step before you try any of the other steps.
Both ways work, just using predators can take longer and may not work on serious infestations.
Predatory mites will starve to death on their own after eating all the spider mites on your plants.
Predatory mites work best indoors and in enclosed spaces where they have no predators eating them before they can kill your spider mites.
Step #6 – Watch your plants closely to see if the Spider Mites Are Coming Back
As spider mites are about the size of a pencil tip they can easily hide, you must keep a close eye to make sure they don’t come back.
Keep misting your leaves and stems with water. This will help significantly with keeping them from re-infesting.
Maintain a clean and tidy garden and soil of both outdoor and indoor plants.
Most effective way to exterminate spider mites from cannabis
The most impactful way to stop spider mites is by spraying a mixture of water and neem and yucca extract. That’s the organic and healthy way to get rid of spider mites and prevent reoccurrence.
The first product is called Neem, which many of you may have heard of before. Neem works by suffocating the mites. This is good news because it means they cannot become immune to it.
The Second Product you will have to buy to kill spider mites is a wetting agent. Yucca Extract
I want you to understand that the Neem by itself DOES NOT KILL SPIDER MITES. This is the top reason people will use Neem, and then say it doesn’t work.
Let’s examine why Neem works to kill spider mites. The method of extermination with Neem is to get it into the tiny pores of the spider mite’s body and cut off the oxygen, effectively suffocating the spider mite. However, spider mites have a built-in defence against this.
When the Neem is sprayed and then soaks into the pores of the spider mite it causes oxygen bubbles to be trapped. Those bubbles will give the mites enough oxygen to survive. So what can you do? The idea is to reduce the surface tension of the Water/Neem mixture so no air bubbles get trapped in the spider mites’ pores. This is done by adding Yucca as a wetting agent.
How do I use Neem and Yucca Extract to kill spider mites?
Killing spider mites with a mixture of Neem and Yucca Extract is quite simple to do.
Add the following to 1 gallon of water;
|20mL of Neem||(4 teaspoons)|
|5mL of Yucca Extract||(1 teaspoon)|
and place it into a garden sprayer.
You then need to spray the ENTIRE plant. This is the important part. The Neem has to cover the exoskeleton of the spider mite entirely in order to suffocate it.
You will want to thoroughly spray every. single. leave. and. stem. top. and. bottom. I will repeat that. You need to spray every single leaf and stem, top and bottom, on the entire plant if you want any chance of killing the mites.
If you miss one spider mite during extermination your infestation can reoccur and send you back to square one.
Remember, Neem and Yucca Extract won’t impact the thousands of eggs that are attached to the leaves on your plant. You will need to spray your plants again (thoroughly) every day for at least 3 or 4 days as the rest of the eggs hatch.