Old Spider Mite Remedies

sultry_jasmine_nights (Florida 9a)April 19, 2007

I was looking in an old book (well not real old- published in 1978)called, 'The Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening'. Under spider Mites it lists a couple different remedies. I don't think I wanna try some of them but they made me smile. Who knows maybe they will work:

#1 Use high pressure spray mixed with 5lbs of flour, 1 pint of buttermilk, and 25 gallons of water (this was for an orchard's use thus the big recipe) The sticky mixture is supposed to suffocate the mites without hurting the plants.

#2)Mix phosphate, or ground limestone and mix with a sticky liquid (possibly the one above?) and spray on the plants.

#3 Blast leaves frequently with COLD water.

Anyone else got any old remedies? This could be fun.


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I don't have any but the water blasting, which I never found to work.
Interesting about the buttermilk though, seems it would smell horrid and attract flies.
Ya'll let us know if you do try this!
Tally HO!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2007 at 6:06PM
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SJN, I went last night and grabbed some of my older garden books from 1950, 1960 and 1980. Low and behold #1 is the method of choice in those books. Interesting reading and I really enjoyed the discription of death! I also found that iron and copper might make some types of mites more active, did you find the same?
A new method we are testing is the steam cleaner burst of heat to kill them.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2007 at 11:53AM
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sultry_jasmine_nights (Florida 9a)

Ha, that's what I thought about the buttermilk too. You must have to hose it back off at some point-although the book didnt say that lol! I wonder if the lactic acid in the milk does anything to kill the mites?
It seems like the ground phosphate (idea #2) would tear up leaves too.
I recently read (not in that book) that one of the reasons mites are so hard to get rid of, is because of the webs they form keep out moisture, so when you spray them the spray doesn't really get to them. This makes all kinds of sense to me.
Most sprayers don't have a high enough pressure to penetrate the webbing. So higher pressure directly from the hose or some type of pressure washer (not set too high) is better. So going on that theory I am gonna use a high pressure spray then immediately hit them with NEEM and see if that works.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2007 at 12:04PM
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sultry_jasmine_nights (Florida 9a)

Hi karma,
Didn't see your post-we must of posted at about the same time lol!
You really have some oldies but goodies garden books! I keep mine around and even buy the old books at used book sales and such. I found some good graphics/photos of grafting in the Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening. I found one book that says some systemics will make the mite populations explode and yes I saw that about the copper. I was reasearching on web sites the other night and saw that remedy about the buttermilk on 2 diff sites! Hmmm... I just can't imagine how I would get it all back off. My cats would prob. like it though-as if they dont climb in the brugs enough already. How is the steam burst working? Did you try it yet? You might be on to something.
Here are the two partners in crime (who us? we never climb brug trees and knock the limbs off! We wouldn't like buttermilk either)-yeah right lol!


    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 1:32PM
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Guys...don't laugh. The buttermilk recipe really does work. I've used it on my hibiscus shrubs, which seemed bothered by these pests often. I notice that the ones inside my screened patio get them worse...probably because the predators of the mites can't get at them. Anyway, I just did the buttermilk spray an hour ago for only the 3rd time in 2 months and it has really kept these pests down. I mix 2 cups whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup buttermilk and 2.5 gallons of water. Then I strain it through a pillowcase (kind of a pain in the you-know-what). I pour it into the garden sprayer and completely coat the undersides of the leaves and it's been a miracle. I would rather go through the mess of straining this stuff than use nasty chemicals. Give it a try. It works!
PS~there is no smell and it doesn't draw bugs. Remember it is only 1/2 cup of buttermilk in 2.5 gallons of water.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2007 at 3:55PM
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I use the Murphy's Oil Soap spray:

1/3 cup Murphy's Oil Soap
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 gallon water.

Smothers those little buggers! I may try the buttermilk this year, as I have more plants, and see how it works. Wonder if it works with regular plain flour.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2007 at 10:41AM
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Wow I am going to try this. I have a bad spider ite problem o these rescued plants I got last year. They were covered i spider mites.

Do you know what kinda sprayer you'd need for that? I messed up a squirt bottle last year with diatomaceous earth water...


    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 11:42PM
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I tried a bunch of stuff. When it was under control I found I had a native supply of garden spiders that loved my plants. I have mantis and lady bugs but the little brown spotted spiders do the best job. I have never heard spiders mentioned. Irony is spiders love spider mites. They do not fly away either.


    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 2:39AM
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sultry_jasmine_nights (Florida 9a)

Cool ideas. I would have never thought of murphy's oil soap. I do have a lot of that not be used. There must be something to that buttermilk because I am hearing that from so many sources. If the mites come back I may just try it also.
My spider mite problem is (for now) under control as well. I have noticed there are tons of lacewings flying around and see eggs and larvae on various plants. I just put in a misting system since it is so dry here to turn on for a while at night too.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 12:04PM
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SJN, does it say what use the flour serves for mites? I'd like to try it, to a much smaller degree of course..lol
I've been using this concoction for yrs and it seems to work. 2-4 drops of dish soap..ground citrus rind, (especially grapefruit) finely cut garlic. And a tad of Listerine. Mix all in a spray bottle, (keep ingredients in spray bottle overnight) shake, then spray entire plant on and under leaves/stems..Ironically, my grocery store, (Jewel) has a dollar section that sells dish soap, (Ajax, Ruby Red Grapefruit) for 1.00 a bottle..so I stocked up on this soap..LOL..Toni

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 1:54PM
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I found where my spider mites came from Lowes. I now keep the plants seperate and treat for 2 weeks before introducing them into the mix. Every plant that came from Lowes if not treated as soon as it arrived developed mites. Amazing what little things will do to keep them healthy. Like cleaning the pruners etc.

Another good item is to use cigaretts butts and throw into a bucket for a day in the sun. The spray will kill anything. It is like the old black leaf 40 product. Another little trick I use for mosquitoes is to use a bucket of water for bait and throw in a little larvacide. I noticed all my rooting buckets had larva in them, so I made a bait bucket and it works. I would be great if all z9+ people did this the problem would go to almost zero.


    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 2:07AM
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Jeepers Jim,
The amount of nicotine in that bucket,is high, and could harm a baby or pet. On the upside,... it'll be gone in three days, mostly. Pyrethrins are strong for a short while too, and close kin to ragweed, gasp.
Milk works on powdery mildew.
Sprinkled flour is supposed to work on some bugs.
It seems funny that they they work well, thinned in water, like cornmeal does for fungus.
At least there's no butter in buttermilk, it's what's left after the butter's been churned, i.e. skim. It's salted a little, and it's clabbered > soured, so maybe you could add yogurt, let it sour, or add a couple of drops of vinegar.

Thanks for the recipe gardeniarose, glad there's no smell.

Tovah Martin says in the 'Essence of Paradise', to "spray the leaf undersides weekly with with ICE water".
There is a predatory mite she mentions too, 'Phytoseiulus persimilis'. That's probably better in a greenhouse where they can't get away.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2007 at 1:32AM
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Hi guys.
Ellieengland: I can't think of the brand of sprayer I use. It is a plastic 2.5 gallon sprayer with a long hose and nozzle on the end. You fill it up, screw the top on, pump the air out and spray away.
About the cigarette butts in water...I read somewhere that tobacco can carry some kind of virus which can affect certain plants. I would google that and see what you find. I think it is called mosaic virus (this comes to mind).
Thanks to everyone for their recipes too! If I get tired of straining the flour out of mine, I will try them.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2007 at 11:20PM
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Ok I am game. I do have an orchard sprayer that I just put a new pump on. I do believe my spider mites are coming across the fence. I am really tired of them. They are soo hard to kill with a small tank hand sprayer. I have a few hundred plants that have to be sprayed. 5lbs of flour and 1 pint of buttermilk. I have a 35 gallon tank so I will give it a shot should they re invade. This should be soon. For a few weeks I checked leaves everyday. Then a healthy bloom buds and flowers everywhere. I saw one real sick small plant and sprayed it. The soap in the mixture showed their webbing. I sprayed another, well it turns out they were again about to explode their population. Just about every plant had them to some degree. Now they had spread to over an acre. Not quite enough info but I will trial it. Temps around 90+ heat factors 105+ I guess it could not be as bad as soap.


    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 1:46AM
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sultry_jasmine_nights (Florida 9a)

I just read about spider mites coming from Lowe's. I saw several brugs here for sale at Lowe's. When I was looking them over, I noticed gobs and gobs of mites they were truly infested so I didnt buy any. Maybe someone should refer them to this forum lol.
Let us know how the buttermilk mixture works Jim, hehe I bet the goats/sheep will be tempted. *ROTFL thinking of sheep/goats chasing Jim around behind the buttermilk sprayer*

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 1:20PM
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Thousands of pages on mites. No one has a clear solution. I did run into a good old time remedy site. I will paste. I hate spider mites and firing up my orchard sprayer using an organic will be fun since the test is cheap. I will buy the ingredients this week end and freeze the butter milk until I use it. You can cover a large area with 30 gallons. I may run the pressure up a little and spray a few oaks and see if they are possibly coming in on the dust from their leaves. Neem makes the leaves slick and harder to kill the mites. The jury is still out on it. The sheep do not like the sprayer cause sometimes they get sprayed with it. They might like the butter milk coated plants. Kind of like livestock candy???


I was going to cite the source for credit but lost like info; I am pretty sure it is not copyrighted. Anyway if you google "Old Spider Mite Remedies" you will find the link.

Old Fashioned Home Remedies For The Garden

Are you tired of running to your local garden center every time one of your plants is overtaken by a new fungus or an infestation of insects? Are you sick of spending those extra dollars on a concoction that you arent even sure is effective and that you think might be doing some harm to the environment, other animals and your loved ones? But what are you to do? Well, IÂve got the answer right here with a list of old fashioned home made remedies; some of which have been passed on from other gardeners, some passed on through generations and some that IÂve collected from all of the reading IÂve done and discussion IÂve had throughout my years of gardening.

Practically all of the ingredients used in these homemade recipes can be retrieved from you kitchen or medicine cabinets at home.


Baking soda can be used to ward off black spot, a terrible fungus that usually hits roses by late Spring. The most effective recipe IÂve found is the Cornell one which is:

1Tblsp. of baking soda with 1 tsp. of dishwashing detergent to 1 gallon of water. Mix together and spray on roses early in the morning once a week until disease has disappeared.


Beer is an old time favorite for getting rid of slugs and snails. This is how you do it. Place the beer (it doesnÂt matter what brand) in either shallow pans or a cut down some paper cups to about 1"tall. The pests will crawl into the pans or cups and drown themselves.


Believe it or not, if you mix 1 cup of vegetable oil with 1 Tblsp. of dishwashing liquid together and then take 1 Tblsp. of this concoction and mix it with 1 Cup of water, you now have a formula to get rid of aphids. Aphids are very tiny insects that suck the sap from a plant ultimately weakening it. If your leaves look curled and deformed, look under the leaves closely and you may find a colony of aphids cavorting.


I was told by a listener on my radio show, that after trying all of the concoctions to get rid of moles, gophers and groundhogs, he planted jalapeno peppers within 4" of where these rodents were invading and voila, the ran for cover after taking a test of these hot veggies. I am going to try this advice but will divide the hot peppers in half when I plant them. I think he is on the right track because Hot Pepper Spray (a prepared organic spray) is sold in garden centers for a way of getting rid of rabbits, squirrels, moles, voles and groundhogs.


Castor Oil concoctions are sold in garden centers as a solution to rid oneself of groundhogs and deers. I would be tempted to go to a pharmacy or health food store and just buy myself a bottle of castor oil and dilute with water and spray on affected areas to see if it works.


A good deterrent for ants who are invaded your garden or home. You can either saturate cotton balls with it or mix in a spray bottle with water and spray where needed. GRITS sprinkled in the garden are also supposed to be an effective way to kill off ants.

VINEGAR (and Lemon Juice)

Vinegar has become the hot Âorganic way of killing off weeds. Some people say that they are able to kill off weeds by just spraying household vinegar on the weeds. Others say that you need to buy a higher concentration of vinegar in order for it to be effective. I would check one of the bottled organic vinegar solutions at your garden center to see what concentration of vinegar they are using. It wouldnÂt hurt to add lemon juice to your homemade weed killing formula either. Word has it that the combo of vinegar and lemon juice is a real killer for weeds.


So you think that buttermilk is just a method for again pots or for getting moss to grow? Well, think again. For those pesky mites, the teeny tiny, reddish insects that you can barely see with the naked eye, but that can do tremendous damage to a plant in what seems like no time at all causing yellow foliage and twisted leaf tips, here is a homemade formula that is sure to solve your mite problem: mix ½ Cup of buttermilk with 4 cups of wheat flour and 5 gallons of water. Strain this mixture through a cheesecloth. Spray it onto the diseased plants. It will kill all of the mites and their eggs.


A mixture of 1 chopped garlic bulbs and 1 Tblsp. of cayenne pepper steeped in 1 quart of water is how you begin to create this mixture that will help to keep cats and dogs out of the garden. Add 1 tsp. of liquid dishwashing soap to help the mixture stick to the plant. Strain the portion that you are going to use and spray onto the plant leaves. The remainder of this formula can stay fresh in the fridge for several weeks.


Cut up a bar of Irish Spring Soap and an cut the end of an old pair of panty hose. Put the piece of soap in the panty hose and tie onto the trees and bushes where the deer have done damage. Before you know it, the deers will be gone. They canÂt stand the smell of this soap.


Quite a few listeners from my show swear that the brand name of "Sunlight Dishwashing Liquid" is the one remedy that works 100% of the time on mites; those pesky insects that were mentioned earlier in the article. I would suggest using 1 Tblsp. of the dishwashing liquid with 1 gallon of water.


If you place 1 Tblsp of olive oil on any water surface, it will prevent mosquitoes from breeding there.


When in doubt, I will often go to my medicine cabinet and get out the old rubbing alcohol. I take a few cotton balls and rub on the infected area for such insects as:

spider mites, aphids, slugs and whiteflies. It may take a few times before you successfully get rid of these pests, but eventually it does work. Rubbing alcohol is a must have for the garden.


In order to keep cut flowers fresher for a longer period of time, I add 1Tblsp. of lemon juice and 1 Tblsp. of sugar to a container 2/3 filled with cool or tepid water.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 2:42AM
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try_jasmine_night, so sorry I don't get here much anymore, garden is so full this time of year and takes up all my time. The steam cleaner works great and when I don't want to haul out all that goes with using it, I just fill my sprayer with water that is about to boil. That seems to work great too. But my favorite is that Blue Can, RAID for flying insects!! Beware their is a way to use this to make sure it's safe for the environment. It even works on flying skeeters!!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 12:50PM
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Is this Spider Mites?
I am new to growing Brugs this year - and something is really chomping down on them. There are white spots (sacs?) on the bottom of the leaves.

I've been treating with an insect- killer spray more or less daily, and trying to keep them wet, but it doesn't seem to do anything.

Thanks so much for any help.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2007 at 11:01PM
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This is not mites. I had a similar problem on a confederate rose and it was a caterpillar. It should be easy to solve this one. If you cannot find it. Spray with a systemic on the plant it will kill all that eat on it.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 3:00AM
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Hey did use the buttermilk and flour. I was a little skeptic. I used it Friday, it rained Friday night and Saturday. It did kill the mites. What dried on my arm hair was very hard to get off without water. I saw some over spray on the side of my truck. It would not rub off. I know it will with water and soap. It did not bother my mantis. So for Less than $ 5.00 I sprayed and entire acre. I like it and will use it again. Will it kill the eggs as was stated the jury is out on this also. I did run into a product which I want to try. It is wilt-pruf. I was googling how do spider mites migrate. It seems they use their webbing and air to recolonize elsewhere. I ran into a rose site where they were having mite problems. They used wilt-pruf and it stopped the infestations and it did not come back. Well a little research showed it it be an effective product to stop plants from wilting in the sun and allow transplants in the summer without total defoliation. So if I were to hypothesize it may put a thick enough protective coating on the plant that mites will not bother it. Mites are very selective in what they invade. I imagine a lot has to do with cell structure and the ability to get nutrients. Brugs transpire as much as any plant I know of and have very thin walled leaves. I would make my life easier. I need to find some today and try it. It might also allow some of my mis planted brugs to survive the summer without a replant. I will let yall (Texan) know what is the outcome of the buttermilk and wilt-pruf trial.

Here is my little bakery with a new pump. I sprayed at about 80 PSI to make sure it flipped the bottom of the leaves up.


    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 3:54AM
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sultry_jasmine_nights (Florida 9a)

Do the white things fly away? or do they stay put and look like a little sticky cottonballish type thing?

If they fly I would guess whitefly, but the other stationary sticky white stuff is probably mealybugs.
I treat mealybugs that get on my mandevillas with Neem and it works great.
Don't spray Neem in full sun and if its hot try to keep your brugs in the shade for a few days after spraying them. Get the undersides of the leaves really good.

If your brugs are in pots the best thing, I've found when spraying, is to tip the whole pot over on its side and spray. It is much easier to get to the underleaves that way.

Another way to control them is to dab them with a cotton ball soaked in alcohol. I can see an aphid in one of your photos but that doesn't seem to be your problem and Neem will take care of those too. Hope this helps :)

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 11:34AM
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The sticky white stuff stays put so I'll give Neem a try.

Thanks very much for the help - I wasn't sure what do didn't know how to treat them!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 1:02AM
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Yes, I am a bit clueless, but I need to know how to apply the spider mite eradication recipe of buttermilk and whole wheat flour mixed in a water solution. Why did one forum member suggest straining it through a pillowcase? Doesn't everything dissolve in the water. Once I achieve the solution, what mechanism do I use to apply--water can?? I have a small sprayer, but am worried that when I attach the h ose, I'll be further diluting mixture which would be ineffective. Please advise! I hate to use chemicals, and my bushes are slowly dieing.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 9:14PM
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I had a serious mite infestation, the first time ever with any plant, earlier this spring. I have a wand hose that has a "power mist" setting on it. I used that to thoroughly drench the undersides of all the leaves on all 6 of my large plants. I spent a good 10-15 minutes, 2-3 times a day for about 10 days. The spray was so intense that many leaves bruised and developed small holes. I also used Pyola every night for a week.

There has not been a sign of spider mites ever since.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2007 at 8:46PM
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zeta9(Ultra Tropics)

My remedy for any sort of pest, unhealthy growth problems with brugs is to prune the affected parts away. By pruning, it sort of forces the plant to divert its energies back into root growth (which could have been weak in the first place) and then subsequently send out healthier new growth that are more pest/disease resistant. No spraying for me. Too much work!


    Bookmark   September 15, 2007 at 10:43PM
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xeriscape8321(Z10 FL Ft. Laud)

When all else fails with spider mites...use a flame thrower...it's guaranteed to kill them all

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 3:51PM
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ruth_ann(Z5 Ont.Can.)

xeriscape8321, you are so bad but so right LOL!

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 5:29PM
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About the spider mites coming from big box stores, it's likely because the commercial nurseries spray on a schedule where it has worn off before they sell, so the plants arrive unprotected. I worked for big box stores, and they stick their brugs where they aren't hit by the sprinklers (I was always moving them out of the sun and getting chewed out), so they are high and dry and great targets for mites. I tried to get them to water under the leaves to control mites, but they don't care. They have contracts with these growers to get credit for sick plants, so they just dump them and get more. It's pathetic.

Knowing how most of these plants sold to big box stores are grown, I hardly ever buy from them unless I find something really rare.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 12:04PM
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jenmae21(z6 PA)

What ELSE does Floramite kill?? lady bugs? spiders? honey bees? I don't want to kill the good bugs in my garden. sounds great...but...?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 3:49PM
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