Melinda's Garden Moment: Eco-friendly Spider Mite Control


Hotdry weather is hard on you and your plants, but great for many pests.

Yellowing,speckled leaves and small spider webs are sure signs mites have taken upresidence in your plants. These pests suck plant juices, causing the leaves tolook somewhat silvery or bronze. As thepopulation grows and feeding increases the leaves can turn yellow, brown anddie. And by the time the webs are visible,if there are any, the mite population is very large.

If you suspectmites: shake a damaged leaf over white paper and watch the tiny mites scurryacross the page. Start treatment with a strong blast of water on the upper andlower leaf surfaces and stems. Follow withinsecticidal soap or horticulture oil. These eco-friendly products are effective against the mites yet safe forpeople, animals, and the mite's natural predators.

Lady beetles, predatory mites,minute pirate bugs, and big-eyed bugs are just a few of the mites naturalpredators. Reducing your use ofpesticides that can harm these good insects will help reduce the risk of mitedamage on your plants. Monitor plants susceptible to mite damage throughout thegrowing season, especially during hot dry weather. A mated female can lay a dozen eggs per dayfor several weeks. And these eggs canhatch, the mites grow to full size, and start reproducing in as soon as a week,making control much more difficult.

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