After all these years, I finally caught red spider mites ;( Help!

bonechickchris(7A/6B NJ 08731)January 8, 2014

Hi everyone!

All my years of growing citrus, I NEVER had red spider mites. Now, I do and I am so upset! Not sure if I caught them because of all the recent up potting issues I had and they got attracted to my trees because some of them were weaker than usual, or if I caught them from any recent citrus purchases. All I know is that in 10 years of owning citrus I have never had them before until now.

So, any suggestions or tips you can suggest? They are currently in a greenhouse where I try to keep low temps of 50F, not counting the last 2 nights of single digit weather, where the GH did go down into the 40's F.

Here's what I have done so far

-using hort Neem oil
-washed all the leaves off of every tree, one by one,
-I also thought the very cold temps here in NJ would kill them off. (It was down to -1 F the other night, and greenhouse got into the high 30's for the first time)
-washed down what I could of that part of the GH

After a week of doing the above, I thought I managed them well. Then this morning, what do I see? More crawling around. So I thought I would see if there are any hidden tips out there to get rid of them and what is the worst that can happen to citrus from them?

I assume meyermike will be chiming in,,, I believe I have read about him having horror issues with the same critters.

Thanks everyone! Christy

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I have citrus in a greenhouse also and I have never seen a spider mite on any of my plants maybe a couple of scales but never mites. Before I got the greenhouse I use to bring my plants inside the house wow this is where I use to get those nasty mites so off to the shower they went . Worked like a charm.i would suggest a garden hose if you have access to one and give them a good shower and don't forget to was them behind their ears. Even with the worst infestation I never lost a plant but I would for sure wash them.I also find they like warm dry conditions but you have the same temperature in your greenhouse as mine. If you have a plant that's not to healthy then they might get spider mites and pass them on to your healthy trees like any other pest so try keep that plant away from the others

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 3:46PM
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mites in general like dry and dirty conditions (dirty, as in dust for indoor plants). Washing regularly is the best method of control. Neem oil or horticultural oil works; but you have to wash it off some hours after application. I use a commercial miticide; but unless you have a pest applicator license, you probably can't get it.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 4:18PM
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My apologies bonechickchris I guess I should have read the part of you washing them SORRY. This really did work for me and any mites that were still on when I brought them out in the spring left fast.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 4:19PM
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mes111(5b -Purling NY & 7b -Nassau County NY)

After 8 years you finally got them? Why didn't you just stop trying after 1 or 2 years? (Gggg)

Just keep applying and washing


This post was edited by mes111 on Wed, Jan 8, 14 at 18:57

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 6:56PM
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bonechickchris(7A/6B NJ 08731)

Thanks for the help!

I can see where the dry conditions could come in. It has been crazy cold here, and I had to shut the hose off for a week and use only water I have collected in bins in the greenhouse. So, I have not been able to wet their leaves as much as usual with the hose.
So on top of that, they have been having heaters blow on them more than usual, I can see how the conditions have been dryer than usual.

But every day it has made it to over freezing, have been rinsing each plant off and treating with neem. But within a day or two, I see them sneaking back.

Do they ever go away, or not that I have them, they are here forever?

Funny enough, my issue all these years was with scale, now this year, I do not see any scale at all for the first time. Not sure if this has to do with the mites or not.

Thanks for the help so far! Christy

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 1:43PM
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Christy once you bring your trees back outside in the spring give them a major shower and that should get rid of them until next winter maybe.Its funny my trouble is scale not a lot but they are there but I tell myself you little guys are going to get it when I bring the trees out in the spring. I use the nozzle on flat or jet and blast them off. I don't like to use chemicals . It takes me a whole long weekend to do my 20 trees but I won't see a scale all summer.I don't think it's your heater causing this because the temperature in your greenhouse is not to hot. Does your heater have a thermostat because if it doesn't it will get to hot in the greenhouse with the sun and heater on and that might cause the mites

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 4:02PM
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Oh Boy.. You finally got MITES????!

Seriously. There was sone good suggestions here..

Thsi is what I do and I have yet to have a spider mite issue in my greenhouse, although that is not to say I don't have at least one mite in there..
In fact, when containing any kind of plant in any confined area, that is the chance we take and in fact quite common.
Personally I thing every one of us folks that grows indoors has at least one pest or two.
The key is to accept it, not to panic, never be disappointed if you think you rid them all and see on again, keep on top of them, never letting them take control, and prevention.

I always keep a fan circulating the air in mine.

I use a spray bottle, you know, the kind you spray pesticde out of, the big pump ones and spray my plants early in the a.m as frequent as possible. It keeps the air humid in there all day, keep the plants clean and discourages any pests..
The fan prevent disease problems and allows me to use water this way.

I would not use all that Neem..It will eventually suffocate your plants if you use too much too often, including buds and new growth.
I would use a good horticultural oil in a spray end bottle or one that attaches to a hose.

Why don't you drain your hose so it won't freeze up or keep it stored inside until you use it again?
That is what I do. I always have access to a hose even when it's below 0

Too, keep the area clean of debris and dead leaves, especially on the floor and on the shelves..I would also spay your pots and all surrounding area..

You should be able to fight this with ease//to be honest, i would rather have mite than scale or mealy..

Hopefully you have gained some good ideas from us here...

P.s..Find a way to consistently spray down your leaves with water and keep a fan going..This alone will help prevent many issues!


    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 7:04PM
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cagoldbear(9a - Houston)

Alright, so when do you call it quits with spider mites and citrus? I have a meyer lemon down here in the Houston area that had a TON of webbing on it. I sprayed it off, but it was only after I was going mad trying to figure out why the whole tree had turned a weird shade of yellow and all the leaves were gone. I think I currently have like three leaves at the top of a 3ft tree. I haven't started the miticides, just hosing it down about every other day, and we have 4 days of heavy rain coming. The infestation is so bad that the grass is yellowing near the tree. UGH! Should I give it a few more weeks, pull the tree out? Suggestions? :(

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 11:48AM
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madferret(UK 8b-9a)

I'm not too a sure do you have spider mites or your trees? :)

Seriously though I've battled with mites over winter and having thrown them outside now they don't seem much better. I've taken to squishing them on site and tried various sprays. One year I had a family of lacewings move into my greenhouse and I didn't have a single bug all year, no pesticides or anything. I believe they're predators ?

Anyway not so lucky this year though, they arnt a major problem here but I can see how they'd be a nuisance in wamrmer climates.


    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 12:08PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

It's been my experience with houseplants on one occasion that I had a mild infestation of red spider mites, that bringing them outdoors in the good weather and rinsing them down and leaving them out there [acclimating them to outdoor conditions first of course] took care of the problem completely.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 12:15PM
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