It is easy to feel defeated when you turn over a leaf and find them there waiting for you— spider mites. They find their way in through air ducts and find the warmer indoor growing temperatures to be inviting. Once they have found their way into your grow space, it is best to act as fast as possible to save your plants.
Because spider mites are so small, they can take you by surprise and be well-established before you even know they are there. Adult spider mites can lay hundreds of eggs in just a couple of days. Knowing how to take action against these pesky invaders is what will help you to save your grow.
At the first sighting of mites, get your hands dirty and take those suckers on. You can pull their webs from the underside of the leaves, use a high-pressure hose to spray the colonies off, and apply a silica spray on your plants to create a slick surface that the mites can’t reattach to. If you have the time and willingness, washing the underside of each leaf by hand has proven to be very effective in removing spider mites. If you do decide to jump right in, make sure to shower or deep clean your hands and arms to erase the evidence of all possible eggs, mature mites, or other fungi from your body before stepping back into your grow room.
The team at Way to Grow likes to grow as naturally and organically as possible to avoid unneeded powerful chemicals. Alcohol spray is a great alternative to heavy pesticides. It kills the mites on contact, is not harmful to the plant, and doesn’t leave behind a residue that you can taste after your plants have come to full maturity. To create a mixture that your plants can tolerate, mix one-part Isopropyl alcohol to one part water in a spray bottle and apply to the underside of the leaves as needed.
Bring on the ladybugs! These powerful ladies are predatory insects that won’t cause your plants any harm. They will eat up every mite in sight and cut the mite population in your grow in as little as two weeks. Ladybugs have a short life span, so you may need to introduce another colony as others die off. If you spray them with sugar water for them to eat and use as energy, it will keep them from flying off to help out in your neighbor’s garden. Using bugs to fight off unwanted bugs is using the awesome powers of nature to help your grow thrive!
Oils, Soaps, and Detergents
There are several soaps, oils, and detergents that exist on the market that are all-natural and safe for your plants. Neem oil is an all-natural option that helps to repel and deter mites from returning. There are natural products that also disable mites' ability to breathe and metabolize such as Green Cleaner, Lost Coast Plant Therapy, Mammoth Canncontrol, and Castile Soap. To be effective natural oils and soaps must be applied regularly. Even though these treatment items are all-natural, they can still affect your plants. Make sure to check the pH levels and pay special attention to the leaves of your plants to avoid overtreating them.
Sometimes there is an infestation that is so strong that you have to pull out all the stops. Some of the Way to Grow crew’s other recommended chemical applicants to rid their grows of mites are:
- Athena IPM
- Spinosad (WARNING: Can be harmful to honeybees)
- Capsaicin (When used in combination with rosemary oil is very effective)
- Pyrethroid (Rooms need to be heavily aerated after use)
- Bonide System Insect Control (Lingers up to five days after use)
The More You Know, the Better You Grow
To avoid making your grow a hospitable place for mites to come and breed, create a clean, dry, humid environment that is more suitable for your plants than mites. Check your plants daily to be able to utilize more natural and organic options and not have to break out the bombshells to rid your grow of pests.