Spider mites!!

reddingJuly 22, 2011

I just came in from the veggie garden, after pulling up and bagging a bunch of mite-infested plants. I have a feeling it's going to get a lot worse before it's finished.

If there was any benefit to it at all, it gave me a chance to get a good look at the soil under the plants, which was better than I had expected, and also to see that I seem to have more of a slope than I had realized. I thought it was almost perfectly flat, but apparently not. I'd had the water running under the squash at one end, and I can easily see how it's traveling across the garden to the far end.

Also in my search for control methods, I learned that the hot and dry conditions are particularly beneficial for large spider mite infestations. One possible method of slowing them down is to add humidity. Thanks a heap. Somehow I just can't see that happening in this weather, without flooding the garden.

One of the sprays I have on hand in Bayer Nutria, which I've never used before. It doesn't exactly say it will kill the mites, but is supposed to protect against them. It also says "not to be used in temps of over 90 degrees". Oh, hooray. So I'd be out there at 4 in the morning, trying to spray? Good grief. I've gone to let the dogs out at 2 a.m. and it's still 92 degrees!

I found a product online called Liquid Ladybug, coming out of Austin, that looks like it might be interesting. I ordered a quart of it to see what it will do. It's supposed to be entirely safe, an organic miticide, and can be used at any time. Has anyone ever heard of it or tried using it? I'll attach a link. They have a little video that goes along with it. I just hope it works.


Here is a link that might be useful: Liquid Ladybug

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well while watching the video the narration reminded me of something I heard somewhere from a friend of somebody. I followed the link provided and was a little suprized at the cost. Seems you'd have to be growing things alot more pricey than tomatos. Type Liquid LadyBug into the search engine. LOL!! Are these "medicinal" "tomatos"?

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 9:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Actually, I am growing much more expensive stuff. The mites are moving into the flower garden and attacking my perennials also. That's why I invested in the spray. There's no way I'm going to lose a couple of years (or 4 or 5) worth of work to those nasty little beggars.


    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 9:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Won't work. They just come back.

Killing the ones on the plant is easy. Soap will work. The problem is the heat, the stressed plants and the sheer numbers of the mites. Systemics don't work either. Lady bugs don't eat them and neither do lacewings.

You are wasting your money.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 2:35AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This year I had to buy a new 2.5 gallon sprayer and by carefully using a candle I was able to place about a 45 degree angle about 4 inch from the wand tip. Any greater angle might collapse the tube. This allows greater ease in spraying the underside of plants.

Once you get LLB maybe you can figure out what it is made from and do a home version. I have found info listing lemongrass oil as an active ingredient.This is sometimes sited as an insectide but the LLB procut claim to work by suffication

Have posted in the Pest forum to see if anyone there has first hand knowledge?

This year has been really bad for SPs all conditions favoring the over thier preditors.

Here is a link that might be useful: kill spider mite

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 8:32AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I'd be very careful spraying anything other than water or water-soluable fertilizer on the plants in this heat. Anything with oil or soap is likely to burn foliage in this heat.

Like Janet, I don't think it will work. Maybe, maybe, maybe if you had started spraying the spider mites when they first arrived (which at our place was in late April) and you had a chance of keeping their population down early in the season, then you might have had a slim chance of getting the upper hand. Now, though, with huge populations on plants for miles around? No way.

I even have spider mites doing visible damage to blades of bermuda grass (which is alright with me), and what that tells me is that even if you could remove the mites from some plants, there are billions of them on our property waiting to move in. I expect the same thing is true all across Oklahoma.

Finally, even though many of my plants are exhibiting mite damage, I just leave them alone and most of them outlast the mites. Even if they die back to the ground, they tend to regrow within a few weeks. Not only do we have pest mites, but there are predatory mites that prey upon the pest mites. If you wipe out all the bad mites, you wipe out the good mites too and then whatever assistance they've been giving you is lost too. You may not think you have any beneficial mites around, but I bet you do. From scientific research, we know that the bad pest insects have to repopulate first. Beneficial insects do not begin to reproduce until there is a large enough population of pest insects to serve as a food supply, so every time you wipe out bad insects and the beneficial insects along with them, your pest insect population re-establishes first, and then the beneficials re-establish significantly later. That is why it is important not to harm your population of beneficial insects.

My dad fought spider mites on his tomato plants and other flowers and veggies my entire childhood, and every time he sprayed with a miticide like Kelthane, he saw a quick drop in the mite population that lasted a few days. Then the mite population surged again and he had more spider mites than before. He sprayed again. The population soared to new levels after a temporary decrease. As a young adult gardening on property just a few houses away from my parents house, it took me over a decade to get him to stop spraying miticides....but after he saw how his mite population got worse following every spray session and he saw that my plants largely survived and even thrived with no spraying, he finally "got it". I was mostly organic for a very long time before he modified his growing practices to become mostly organic as well. I think he finally was able to see that the less I sprayed the better my garden did, and the more he sprayed the worse his garden did. It was quite a revelation to him that after a lifetime of gardening to discovere he could find a 'better way' to do it while in his 70s. He told me ruefully that he wished he hadn't spent his lifetime spraying chemicals that never really worked well anyway, but he hadn't known what else to do.

Remember that nature abhors a vaccum and more mites will come in to replace the ones you kill, if you kill any at all. You can fight spider mites all you want and they will emerge victorious. You can accept them and let your beneficial mites control them as well as they are able and just not worry about them and not stress over them. Sometimes as gardeners the hardest thing in the world is to leave the plants alone and let them make it on their own, or not. It is your choice to spray for the mites or not, but I'm here to tell you I do not know anyone who has successfully defeated spider mites here in Oklahoma for anything more than the tiniest period of a few days.


    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 10:59AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Isn't that just the truth? First the heat, then the grasshoppers, and right behind them came the spider mites. I've heard that the conditions all go hand-in-hand.

I did a lot of web searching before I found the LLB. Obviously I can't use it everywhere, but I certainly plan to try it on my perennials when the nasty little things decide to move over there. If they are already in the buddleia, others can't be very far behind.

Between the spider mites and what seems to be a mosaic virus, my garden just can't take the punishment this year. I only hope I can get it cleaned up before I want to plant next year. I understand that mosaic can hang around forever.


    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 11:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I was so glad to see your advice about leaving the spider mites alone. Somewhere in the back of my mind I thought I recalled seeing that before, so I've been gritting my teeth and doing nothing in spite of seeing all the damage those little critters are causing. Thanks for confirming that it is okay to leave them alone. What a year for gardening. But I'm hanging in there. So far we're still getting zucchini, cucumbers, a little squash, some peppers (serranos are doing well, jalapenos and sweet bananas so-so, green bell peppers nada), picked the first okra today, cantaloupe are ripening, and hopefully there will be some watermelon and pumpkin if the little ones that are on now survive. But the tomatoes, beans, and limas ...... ugh! At least half of the tomatoes, all of the beans, and some of the limas are being hit hard by the spider mites. We were in Colorado for 2 weeks and there was no sign of them when we left but they snuck in while we were gone.


    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 2:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sammy zone 7 Tulsa

People who use insecticides on roses also must use miticides. Miticides are super expensive -- at least the ones recommended for roses.

I have had mites a couple of times, but not since I stopped spraying anything but water on my roses. To get rid of the mites, I would use the hose to wash off the back and front of every leaf. It seems like I did that for almost a week. Possibly 3 days removed all the mites, then the eggs were hatching, and to continue for the week would remove all of them. It was rather labor intensive to patiently hold each leaf and spray it with water.

Now I just water, and so far have not had that problem.


    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 2:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Maryl zone 7a

Sammy is correct in saying that Miticides are expensive. Personally I use AVID if I have a spider mite infestation that threatens to get out of control on my roses or other ornamentals. It's the least expensive of the group and is cost effective for larger gardens as it needs only 1/4 tspn per gallon. However, like many pesticides there is a good possibility of a resistance build up if used too often. Usually I must use AVID once a year or so, but this year I've not had to use it at all. That does not mean I haven't had spider mites. I just pitched a Gerbera Daisy that had been eaten alive by them. I just wasn't going to use a pesitcide to save a few annuals...Floramite I believe has now been approved for non-ornamentals such as Tomatoes. AVID is only to be used on ornamentals and other non-edible flora...I've included a link to the site that carries these products. It's your garden, your money, and your decision as to whether or not you are interested in them...Maryl

Here is a link that might be useful: Spider Mite chemicals

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 5:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I was already mostly organic when we moved here, and if anything became even more organic after moving here. I've learned you cannot control the pests and diseases on all the thousands of acres around you, so even if you gain some measure of control on your own little piece of land, the pests just come rushing in from 'next door' to fill any 'vacancies' at your place. So, since I cannot defeat them, I just ignore them and don't worry about them. They were here before I was born. They'll be here after I'm gone. I can't control them, so why drive myself crazy trying?

My veggie garden is producing well considering the weather. My flowers (at least the ones that have been watered) look decent. They all have pests, but who cares?

Suzie, I hope the weather in Colorado was lovely while you were there.

Spider mites are sneaky like that. They usually are there all along---I see them in April and May of dry, hot springs---but their population usually doesn't reach huge levels until July. Then it peaks and starts dropping.

I'm glad your garden is producing something in this awful gardening year. I'd hate to be a brand new gardener in 2011 because the heat and drought sure would be discouraging.

Sammy, I've found water as effective as any chemical, so why spend money on chemicals?

Maryl, Those miticide prices about gave me a heart attack. Ironically, I never have spider mites on my roses here. I guess they're too happy down in the veggie garden to move up to the roses near the house.


    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 9:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've never had to deal with a mite infestation quite on this scale before, and they came in so fast! Someone said they never grow marigolds because of the problems, but I've grown them every year and never see a sign of spider mite until this year.
I also did not know about the beneficial mites that prey on them. That's good to know. Obviously I can't stop them all, even on our small acreage. I just didn't want to face losing some of the perennial plants that I've gotten established. I figured I'd try the LLB since it seems to be a more natural control that the other miticides, and I'll use it sparingly, on the plants I see that are in trouble and are also away from the veggie garden mite convention.

I completely agree that spraying much of anything in this heat is sending out a death knell for the plants. I washed off the little buddleia with a soap solution and hope it can manage to stay alive.

Last year I had an invasion of whitefly that was purely awful. This year there's no sign of them and it's the spider mites and grasshoppers instead.

Speaking of critters, has anyone else noticed big swarms of dragonflies? We've had them zooming around in the pasture for the past week. I saw the same thing happen in the orchard in CA one particularly hot year. I wonder what they're feeding on? Anyone know?


    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 3:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Red Spider Mites have been the nemesis of my tomato plants for over 20 years and for all those years I controlled them with Kelthane, until now...

I have enough Kelthane for one more good spray but this year I opted to try other measures first. When the spider mites showed up at the end of May just as they usually do, I decided to try blasting them off with a spray from the garden hose. I'll admit that I was sceptical of the water blast treatment and my first attempt was rather wimpy as I was afraid of damaging my plants with too much force. I did notice some improvement though, but within a week or so they were making a strong comeback. I was this close to using the Kelthane or even concocting a homemade solution with Canola Oil and Dawn detergent with Zylene(an ingredient of Kelthane). I decided to try the water blast again. This time I blasted with a spray nozzle and used more pressure, blasting all of the underneath from several angles then coming back across the tops from above. This time showed more improvement and with new grow on top staying happy and green. I noticed that for the most part the heirloom plants didn't have near the problem with spider mites as the hybrids with the exception of my Black Cherry plants. Celebrity had the least problem of the hybrids with big problems on the Superfantastic's and Betterboy's. 4th of July's had some problem and they are planted next to the Black Cherry's which had the worst problem of all. I blasted 4 times so far with the last time about a month ago. On the final blast, I opened up the hose full force and blasted with Hurricane force so much so that there was some small damage to the plants from whipping about so violently. I have still had some sign of spider mites, but not infestations that will suck a plant dry and burn it up by the middle of July. I suspect the good mites that Dawn talks about are helping to keep the bad ones in check along with the Marigold plants I planted down one row when the mites first showed up in May. I expected the Marigold's to be a trap crop, but so far they have grown lush with no spider mites at all. Perhaps just the smell they give off is a deterrent to the spider mites.

Most of all those years that I used Kelthane, one good drink when the mites showed up would control them all year with sometimes another application in July being necessary. Usually by September they would be showing up but not enough to be concerned with. Every year the old woman across the fence would plant her tomatoes not 30 feet from mine and every year they would be burnt up with mites by the middle of July.

Next year I plan on planting the row of Marigold's much thicker at the same time I set out my tomato transplants and not be such a sissy about blasting with full force when the spider mites first show up.

While I'm glad that I've found an organic method of treatment, I would still use Kelthane if it was still available. I do recommend the water blast treatment, it has to be started soon after mites show up. If you wait until you have a severe infestation, I doubt the blast treatment will have any effect at all and your plants will soon be deader than Bin Laden....

Keith <img class="cursor-magnify js-enlarge" data-imgurl="" data-pin-no-hover="true" src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-YN9TPTZAOVk/TH557rHYPpI/AAAAAAAAAG4/ayDk6zSCMHA/wink.gif""; />

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 3:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

While some plant marigolds as a natural repelent to some things they are very attractive to SPs.

The problem with good mites to the rescue idea is that this year the temps but more importanly the low humidity levels favor thr feed and breed program of the SPs over several species of preditor mites. Even though there may be food for the preditor mites they can't process it through their bodies at humidites outside of a 55 -65 percent range. They can starve to death surrounded by SPs

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 5:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm grateful for any little bit we get from our garden this year, considering we're battling heat, drought, and bugs. And if it all burns up or is devoured tomorrow, I'm just tickled to have had anything at all considering the odds. Last night I made two jars of bread and butter pickles and I know it sounds strange to be excited about 2 little jars, but I was!

The first few days in Colorado we were in Denver and they were experiencing their own heat wave. Highs were in the 90s which is hot for them but nicer than the 100's at home. The second week we spent way up in the mountains, and that was a wonderful break from the heat. The daytime highs were usually in the 70's. The day we drove home it was 49 degrees at 7 a.m. when we left, then driving through the Texas panhandle it reached 108 that afternoon, and when we arrived home it was still 100 degrees at 10 p.m.! We were ready to turn around and go back. While we were there the locals were talking about how dry everything is there too, but the streams and rivers are running very full because of the snowmelt, due to all the snowfall this past winter. The wildflowers are gorgeous up in the mountains this summer due to all the snow they had too.


    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 11:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have to wonder about the marigolds. The past few years I've had dwarf ones in the flower bed with no problems at all. This year I deliberately planted the tall African ones I started from seed, to use them in the veggie garden. I'd always been told that they are the only ones that still have any insect activity, since it's all been bred out of the little hybridized ones. I'm not sure quite what's going on, but I'm fairly sure something is. It can't be entirely the climate this year. Either those big ones have now also been bred to the point that they're no longer effective, or they simply attracted every spider mite within miles. From being full and lush and beautiful, within 48 hours they were matted and tented messes of mites. Maybe that's exactly what they were supposed to do, but I think I need to spend a bit more time on checking into what's going on with the breeding of assorted marigolds these days, just so I'll know for the future.. If they were doing their job and keeping some of the critters off my other plants, that's fine. If I was just planting an attractant, I sure don't want to do it again.


    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 1:07AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have pretty much surrendered to the spider mites--I spray them with water and sometimes seaweed emulsion, but not often enough to get rid of them. (If that is even really possible). I don't pull plants with mites unless they're annuals and completely dead anyway--I'd have to buy all new plants every year if I did that:).

Supposedly the mites don't like seaweed/kelp and spraying it every day helps control them, it is possible that it has hormones that suppress the mites' reproduction (this is not really proven, just a theory). But I don't have time to be spraying plants every day with my work hours. So I just do it on the weekends and I don't know if it's really having any effect. At least the non-infested leaves look healthy.

My experience with chemical pesticides (for any kind of bug) is that they usually have little to no effect on the bugs and/or the plant gets even sicker. They seem to do better with normal care and just waiting the bugs out.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 12:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I sprayed the garden down with ready-to-use Sevin (25% carbaryl) in the hose attachment bottle. I don't particularly like it, but it was the only thing I could find with any hope of getting the grasshoppers, and I was not about to lose the entire garden. I don't know if it had any effect on the mites or not, because I wasn't supposed to work on them. However, something has discouraged them or they just finally gave up and moved on, because I'm not really seeing much more damage. Some of the tomatoes are looking really poor, but they're still alive and are trying to produce fruit, so I just water them and wait. I've got a couple more of the big marigolds that need to be pulled up because they are heavily tented now, but maybe they're drawing the mites away from the other stuff.

I think what happened was that the infestation moved in so fast, and I had so much other stuff going on, that I didn't catch it immediately, as I should have.
By the time I got to it, they were in full swing.

Whatever it is, I know that I do like those giant marigolds in the garden and have grown them for years. Next year I'll be doing the same thing. If they draw away the mites, that's a good thing. If they just grow and are lush and full and pretty, that's fine also.


    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 1:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

it is November and temperature 75f with a humidity of 100% as it is the rainy season here in the Dominican Republic. I am growing several varieties of marigolds, most of which are developing silver leaves, spider mites!. The datura's and other plants are also infested. Now, remember it is 100% humidity at the moment and actually the humidity is high here even in the summer. Soooooo.. how come all I read about is that it is a LACK of himidity which allows the spider mites to run wild? Obviously that is not the case.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 10:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7

It depends on the kind of spider mite that you have. Some mites thrive in higher humidity and some thrive in lower humidity. When a person is purchasing predator spider mites to use as a control for pest spider mites, you have to buy the right kind of predatory spider mite for the current conditions or you're just wasting your money.

Since you live in an area that stays humid most all the time, you probably have species of spider mites that are well-adapted to humid conditions.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 2:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I guess our spider mites don't have work visas for the DR. I am soooo sorry. I couldn't help it!
When we lived in Seattle, (humid) we had spider mites. When we moved to Europe (humid and dry) we had spider mites. When we moved to Texas (way dry) we had spider mites. The extension agent (in Texas)said that all varieties of spider mites are adjusting and are on the move.
World traveling spider mites; that's all we need!

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 2:26PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Intercropping Tomatoes
with Sweet corn? Is it doable? with so many tomato...
We're Having All Four Seasons of Weather This Week!
This is your warning that this week's weather is going...
Okiedawn OK Zone 7
Tomatoes in Oklahoma: Part I, Varieties/Types
We've been discussing several tomato-related topics...
Okiedawn OK Zone 7
Easter freeze....
Anyone else worried about a potential Easter freeze?...
asparagus is up
Went out to plant corn and peas and noticed I had about...
mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma
Sponsored Products
HAAN Select SI-60 Steam Cleaner - SI-60
$129.95 | Hayneedle
Evolution Lighting Ivory Dot Silk Bell Shade 18168-000
$19.97 | Home Depot
Contemporary Indoor/Outdoor Area Rug: Chandra Rugs Jaipur Gold 5 ft. x 7 ft.
Home Depot
Indoor Area Rug: Alfred Shaheen Multi 7' 9" x 10' 6"
Home Depot
Wolf Unity Latex Hybrid Mattress with Cotton Cover - STY-1010
$541.67 | Hayneedle
Permafresh Mattress Protector Multicolor - 2041769
$16.00 | Hayneedle
Organic Eco-Valley Wool Firm Pillow
Indoor Area Rug: Strata Red 5' x 7' 6"
Home Depot
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™