Mint Plants Under Seige by some sort of tick looking bug.

mintguy83April 28, 2009

I just bought three mint plants from a local nursery a week ago. 3 days later I notices tiny clear bugs that resembled Ticks, bit they aren't ticks, crawling around the soil. I wanted to kill them before the problem got worse, so I bough some organic bug killer made with soybean oil as the active ingredient and coated the plants and the soil.

2 days after that, there were even more small clear bugs, AND my mint plants are now pocked with larger green stationary bugs!!!

I decided the organic pesticide was too weak, so I went and bought TWO different types of herbicide, one powdered and one spray form, both with two different active ingredient chemicals for a full spectrum assault. I powdered the ground in the pot with the powder, and coated the plants with the spray.

One day later, these little clear buggers are crawling around and playing in the powder like it is snow. And the stationary green bigger bugs have no moved.

What are these guys? How do I kill these and save my mint? Do I need to throw it all out, Raid spray the pot, and re-soil and plant new plant? (obviously from a different nursery)?

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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Could be termites? You mentioned 'herbicide'. Thats a WEED AND PLANT KILLER!! Suggest that you try Neem as it seems to work well for most bug infestations. The other option is a pyrethrin based insecticide, like Pyola made by Gardens Alive. The Neem is good and should work fine. Never use Raid on plants! Keep in mind that any sprays used are absorbed by the leaves which you eat, so using petrolium based, or chemical products is not an option. Good luck! The bugs could also be the maggots that arrive when fungus gnats are laying eggs in the soil. A form of Bt would be used there, or beneficial nematodes bred for fungus gnat control.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 2:32AM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Are your plants indoors? Sometimes by putting them outdoors other bugs, sun, wind, etc. will deal with the pests as well. This can be done in combination with whatever else you are doing.

By the way, have you picked off and squashed the bugs? Sometimes that is the best non-chemical way to deal with minor infestations.

FataMorgana

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 8:48AM
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mintguy83

I'm sorry I meant insecticide, not herbicide. I'm new to growing things. All of my plants are indoors in window sill long pots. I live in a dense downtown area in a loft so that is my only option.

The two insecticides I used were Sevin carbaryl 5% powder and and a liquid spray from Ortho I believe where the active ingredient was some long chemical that started with an A. These things are immortal or something. After talking to a Nursery they say I may have mites, which are apparently different from aphids, and that since mint it cheap I should toss the plants and soil, sterilize the pot, and replant new ones rather than spend $20 on more insecticides that may not work and the bugs could spread to my other plants in the mean time.

What do you all think?

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 2:32PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Yes, those insecticides are not something that should be sprayed or applied to any edible foods of any kind. Neem is an oil extracted from a Neem tree in India. Its prized for being very effective in killing most bugs and also acts as a repellent. Mites can also be there, as you found out.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 6:00PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

I couldn't get the gist of whether you had the plant indoors or outside in a pot. If indoors, move the plant outdoors. Let Nature's own insectivores, wind, and sun take care of the plant - you have nothing to loose. Moving an infested plant outdoors has many times been successful for me. And NO chemicals to boot. Plus taking the time to hand-pick and squash any visible pests and/or cleaning the plant can assist that process.

And agreed with ksrogers. Never use those types of insecticides, especially on anything you want to consume.

FataMorgana

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 8:55AM
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novice_2009(zone 6b)

Does neem oil work on fungus gnats? I have them on many potted plants, in and out. I have a bottle of STRAIGHT neem oil, so do I dilute it with something else? Also, I thought mints helped repel insect pests!!! I have the fungus gnat problem on mint, lemon balm, tarragon, lavender. The infestation is so bad, sticky traps aren't going to work. Even moving plants outdoors didn't seem to help that much.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2009 at 4:24PM
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eibren(z6PA)

If you have a sprayer attachment for your sink you could try spraying off the pests and then switching to hot water for a few seconds to rinse them down the drain...only use lukewarm water directly on the plants, though.You really don't want to be using a lot of pesticides, especially indoors.

If you leave the plants outside, sometimes natural predators will go after insects, but not after applying pesticides to them.

You can also rinse off the roots and put the plants in new soil, but that's a really messy process to do indoors. Apparently you can even bake soil to kill pests...but if it is purchased potting soil with ground up plastic foam bits in it that might not be a very good idea. I don't know if freezing would work or not.

I always encourage my house spiders to live on my indoor plants. It seems to help.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 3:30AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Neem can kill the flying gnats, but will not do much for the maggots they produce that live in the soil and feed off the roots. Neem oil will not easily mix with water as its an oil. Castile soap is usually used as an emulsifier for allowing the oil to mix with water. A form of Bt can kill the maggots. A strain of beneficial nematodes also go after the maggots. The gnats are very hard to get rid of unless you use the methods I mentioned. Yellow sticky traps for the gnats and Bt for the soil soaks to kill the maggots. Some say to remove all the soil and dip the bare roots in water to drown the maggots, but thats just too tough on most young plants and can easily kill them, the plants that is. The maggots and gnats return every summer here, outside, even if teh winter temps are at zero degrees. The maggots just dig deeper and have no problems avoiding cold.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 3:29PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Frankly, you need to have your pests identified before applying anything. It's of little benefit to do this or that or apply something else when you don't know who the enemy is.

In the future, please know that toxic pesticides, such as your Sevin and Ortho, should not be used inside unless they are specially labeled to be used in such a manner. Even at that, I'd strongly advise against it.

If you google the names of the assorted pests you've heard of here or elsewhere, you can find lots of images for identification. I suspect that your 'green, stationary bugs' are aphids. Mites are so small that they are difficult to see with the naked eye, even if you know what to look for. However, it is highly possible that you have both.

As far as the fungus gnats are concerned, I do not see where you mention the presence of any annoying adult gnats flitting around. The adults are usually present when larvae (in the soil) are a problem. Fungus gnat larvae (maggots) are opaque, worm-like critters. You'll also find images of them on line.

Novice, you should not use your pure neem oil on your plants. Unless a product has directions for use, you might end up harming the foliage...or doing no good whatsoever. You need to use that neem for whatever purpose you bought it for.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 1:25PM
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