The lesser of two evils - gnat and mite problem

caitlin448May 26, 2010

I am trying to keep my first plant alive. I got some impatiens about a month ago and they are in a pot on my porch. Unfortunately I have two issues. The first is the presence of several tiny gnats in and around the soil. I think these are fungus gnats. The second is thin, wispy spider-web looking strands connecting the plants. I think these are spider mites.

So while researching the mites one piece of advice I found was to spray the plant with water, which would wash the mites away. However, the gnats are attracted to water, so doing so seems like it would create more gnats. How do I fix this double edged sword? Any advice is greatly appreciated!

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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

Spray with Neem oil. Set the plant on it's side and spray under the leaves, rolling the pot to get all angles and leaves. Then set it up right and spray the top of all the leaves. You need to repeat this in 5 days and to be sure do it again in 5 more days. Neem is natural and will not poison the environment or you but will kill both the mites and fungus gnats and larvae.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 10:35PM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

Sorry, keep the plant out of direct sun until the solution dries or spray in the evening.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 10:39PM
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Taz is right about the neem oil if it is spider mite. It takes a heavy infestation to show the webs. Do you have other signs of spidermite like white spots on the leaves or is the plant otherwise healthy and you just see the webs. Gently run a leaf between your fingers--try it with a few. Does it feel gritty. If it does then that's spider mites or their eggs.

It could be a garden spider after the fungus gnats. Watering the plant with water mixed with a little insecticidal soap will get rid of the larva in the soil and a sticky fly strip will catch the adults. You can also use insecticidal soap on spider mites.

If you do have spider mite then don't give up with the water spraying and as with the neem oil get the undersides of the leaves. Spider mites hatch out every 3 to 5 days and the more cures the better.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2010 at 10:16PM
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Thank you for the replies! I was devastated to find that one of my few flowers had somehow deformed this morning. It has 4 petals and three of them were fine, but the fourth was missing because it turned into a shriveled-up black ball. It was really strange.

I do in fact have white spots on some leaves - wasn't sure what they were but I see now they're signs of mites. I wanted to try the neem oil but my father gave me a chemical spray and told me to use it. I was nervous because my little plant is already in a delicate state, so I sprayed very very sparingly. After a few hours I inspected it again and the leaves look greener, the black dots on the back of them are gone. Though not indicated on the bottle, the gnats have disappeared as well, so maybe it did something to them.

There is a tiny green spider that hangs around, so I wondered if maybe he was doing the damage. But after reading the white spots comment above, I'm pretty sure it was spider mites instead.

I'm still uneasy about using chemicals on my plant. I live on the 2nd floor in an apartment so I didn't worry too much about affecting little critters or neighborhood kids and pets. But I have 2 pets of my own and now am afraid to even let them on the porch in case some of the spray landed somewhere. I wonder how long I need to keep them away. But the spray did seem to work. Unfortunately I lost another bloom, though, leaving me down to 4. The most I've had so far is 8 - I wonder if my thumb will ever turn green!

    Bookmark   May 27, 2010 at 11:50PM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

What was the active ingredient in the stuff your dad gave you?

Hope it wasn't imidacloprid or thiacloprid. That stuff turns mites into breeding machines.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 8:29PM
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If you have pets your best bet is insecticidal soap or neem oil or just spray with cold water. None of these will harm your pets. They are green products. Whatever you use, you have to do it often. One spray is not enough because just 1 or 2 left behind will soon start a breeding colony.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 2:22PM
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