The best way to minimize the damage caused by spider mites is to target the infestation as soon as possible. It is only by completely eradicating the mites that you can, perhaps save your plant, or at the very least, prevent the infestation from spreading. The first step would be to identify that there is an increasing population of spider mites on your plants. The best way to do this would be to thoroughly check all of your plants during the dry and hot months. Here are a few suggestions for getting rids of these mites:
What Doesn’t Work
The first instinct for many gardeners upon seeing a spider mite infestation is to reach for the pesticide. Unlike other common pests, however, spider mites are rarely affected by pesticides. In fact, using this chemical could cause the population to increase even faster. This is because you will be killing all of the mites’ natural predators instead.
Quarantine the Plant
Spider mites are incredibly good at moving from one plant to another. In fact, they are so light that a gust of wind can blow them away, carrying them to a neighboring plant. This is why it is important to immediately isolate the plants away from any other plants or leaves. Once quarantined, make sure to treat the plant immediately so that it doesn’t give the mites the time to spread.
Killing the Mites
Here are some tried and true methods for killing spider mites:
Hosing Down the Leaves
Spider mites don’t actually have a good grip on the leaves that they are residing on. Therefore, if there aren’t too many mites, using water pressure can help to dislodge them. Just make sure that the pressure isn’t high enough to damage the plants.
Using Beneficial Insects
There are some bugs that act as natural predators to the spider mite. The Stethorus punctillum is even commonly referred to as the spider mite destroyer. Other bugs include ladybirds, lacewings, and minute pirate bugs. These can be introduced to your plants to help get rid of small or medium spider mite populations.
Using Horticultural Oil or Neem Oil
Horticultural oil is a good option for quickly and effectively killing the spider mites. The good thing about this oil is that it will not affect the other beneficial insects as much. If you are looking to spot treat your plant, then Neem oil will prove to be quite beneficial to you. This is also a good treatment for heavier infestations.
Miticides are usually a last resort to killing mites as they are not as natural as the other methods. You should always choose a miticide that will do the least amount of damage to your plants. Remember that if you continue to use one type of miticide, it is possible that the mites will become resistant to it. For the miticide to be most effective, it needs to make direct contact with the spider mites.
These are some of the ways that you can kill spider mites that have infected your plants. The best way to make sure you don’t have this problem in the future is to ensure that your plants are as healthy as possible.
To learn more about vegetable gardening of various kinds, you should absolutely check out The MiniFarming Guide to Vegetable Gardening.