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Spider Mites

Closer Look Of The Spider MiteThese small creatures suck nutrients and juices from the leaves of vegetable plants, causing discoloration and yellow blotches. They can form a spider-like silk web on the underside of leaves for purposes of protection and, if left unchecked, a web over the entire plant, severely stunting growth or killing it. Spider mites can float along with summer wind currents or be carried by garden visitors such as raccoons, pets, or infected plant material. To spot these mites, first look at the plant leaves and if they appear to have a rash of tiny yellow pinpricks all over the surface, any discoloration coupled with unexpected leaf drop, suspect this pest as the cause. The tiny mites will be visible to anyone with good eyesight, but using a magnifying glass also helps. These are some nasty bugs whose populations can increase dramatically if not thwarted! These insects are the true survivors of the insect world.


Adult Spider MiteThe adults are very small, about 1/60 of an inch long, are oval in shape, and range in color from green to brownish orange, light yellow or sometimes simply clear. Depending upon the ambient temperature, adult spider mites, who are not flyers and have no wings, live from one to four weeks. A complete life cycle requires two to three weeks, but if the weather is very hot, it can be as short as one week. Mites can over-winter as mated females in protected areas and garden debris, so good garden hygiene in fall is helpful in reducing their numbers. Adult females have the ability to go dormant when daylight hours shorten, then re-emerge to lay more eggs a few weeks later, which is why the pest keeps reappearing crop after crop, especially on indoor house plants.


Spider Mite EggsIn good conditions, spider mite eggs can develop into adults in just one week. Inspecting leaves for mites you will commonly see both eggs and adults all together. Spider mite eggs are all perfectly round, the same size, ranging from amber to clear in color. Females can lay 100 or more eggs in their short lifetime.


The larvae of spider mites look like small adults, very difficult to see, but fully developed, being only about 1/80th of an inch long. If you look closely with a magnifying glass, many of the larvae have only six legs instead of the usual eight that adults possess.

Vegetables That Spider Mites Like To Eat

Almost all known vegetable plants


You can use an insecticidal soap, malathion, neem oil or a miticide product containing dicofol (Kelthane) to kill mites. You must apply these using a higher pressure spray so as to force the spray into the mites themselves, and you must re-spray about two days later, to kill the new mites that hatched from eggs, which are not affected by the spray. Mites are survivors and don’t kill easily.

When hosing off a plant, make sure to spray the entire plant, bottom to top, as well as the undersides of the leaves using a hard spray of water, remembering that they can’t crawl back once knocked off.

Lady Beetles Are Natural Enemies Of The AphidNatural enemies include lady beetles, predatory mites, minute pirate bugs, big-eyed bugs and predatory thrips. Using carbaryl (Sevin) kills some mites, but mostly mite predators, which can cause an explosion of mite populations later on.

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