Can rubbing alcohol be used to kill Spider Mites?

Oklahoma_Tim(z7a OK)September 1, 2009

I recently bought a pot of tightly-packed Parlor Palm seedlings, and after I got them home I discovered hitch-hikers hiding among the leaves--spider mites. Today I ran a Yahoo search for "spider mites" and found a page that says "It has been suggested that spraying plants with a 1:1 mixture of alcohol and water will kill spider mites on contact." I really don't want to use chemical-based pesticides on my houseplants, so I think this is a great idea.

I've been browsing around this forum looking for messages on this subject, and have found that several people have recommended the use of diluted alcohol to kill pests. Does an alcohol:water ratio of 1:1 work best, or should it be diluted more?

Here is a link that might be useful: The page where I found that quote

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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

That will work for mealybugs. And is widely thought to work for mites -- but not so.

Insecticidal soap works well against motes.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2009 at 10:46PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

The only person I know of that sprayed a plant with that mixture of rubbing alcohol saw the plant die. Spray the plant really well with a water shower and if the wee buggers persist spray with an Insecticidal Soap.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2009 at 1:19PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I've used alcohol and water for spider mites before, with great success. I've always recommended a 1:4 ratio (alcohol to water), but stronger can certainly be used.

Alcohol is always one of the products I keep on hand to treat new-comers to the household. I'll typically continue to mist on a weekly basis, whether I detect any critters or not. There are very few plants that I won't use it on.

Alcohol isn't for every plant, however. Those with fuzzy or fragile leaves might be susceptible to damage. You might consider doing a leaf test with your parlor palm (which are so prone to spider mite infestations) to make sure. I'm quite confidant that your plant will do just fine.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2009 at 11:24AM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

Why don't you mix some neem or murphies oil soap with alchohol and water.
Then they get a double whammy..No escaping this combination...:-)

    Bookmark   September 3, 2009 at 5:25PM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

"That will work for mealybugs"

jean001 I'm curious as to why you did not make this comment on the 'Control of large mealy bug outbreak' post.

"Why don't you mix some neem or murphies oil soap with alchohol and water.Then they get a double whammy..No escaping this combination."

meyermike I'm also curious as to why you didn't make this comment on the 'Invasion! Lots of pics...' post.

You have both made replies yet leave this info out. Why?

If it's new info then it's just too soon to know if it works.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2009 at 6:12PM
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zen_man

A problem here is that apparently nobody specified what alcohol they used or recommended using. I imagine there is a big difference in phytotoxicity or toxicity between the commonly available alcohols: isopropyl alcohol, ethyl alcohol (ethanol) or wood alcohol (methanol). And, not to put too fine a point on it, but all three are chemical compounds, as is dihydrogen oxide (H2O).

ZM

    Bookmark   September 3, 2009 at 11:01PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

taz, the use of horticultural oils, neem, soaps, and even alcohol for the control of certain pests of ornamental plants is not new, nor is it even 'secret' information.
Plain water sprays can be extremely useful in the control (but not eradication) of some of these pests, and is often the first choice for many of us.

By the way,the alcohol to be used is plain (clear) isopropyl, also called rubbing alcohol.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 12:01PM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

Sorry for overlooking it !

Because I am not use to using alchohol...I have been using neem and murphies oil soap though, and it has controlled all my mites and other pests, but never COMPLETELY rid them all winter as I said...

"Isn't there a FULL proof way to rid these buggers without chemicals?...I can never seem to COMPLETELY rid them, but control them yes..without going the toxic chemical way"...

I have use alchohol in the past, and this seems to work, but never stayed with it.
But the advice of many old timers here lately has validated my belief that it does work. So I am suggesting you use both together since both work seperately. Therefor a double whammy!!
I also learned this recently from a member here who is a pro at growing AWSOME plants and knows her insects well...I am not going to hold back great info from pros even if I learned it yesterday from someone as you who is looking for help..;-)

Sorry, since that post, I too have learned something new...And if it works for the friends here that have had comlplete sucess and proven experience, then I don't need to do it myself to figure if it works, for I have faith in these knowledgable members along with belief in their opinion and sucesses.
So I am encouraging you to give it a shot.
Sorry if I fell short on that invasion post.

Take care....:-)

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 12:52PM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

I knew it was isopropyl or rubbing alcohol and think everyone else knew too(exc. ZM)
Unless otherwise noted, first to mind is iso.

Thanks for clarifying guys. I'm going to try the double whammy before I bring my plants in and during the winter months for mites, mealybugs if I get them. I have had mites since last winter and have kept them under control with Toni's homemade mitacide and a sharp spray of water but would like to see them eradicated. May have to get some predators in spring if they persist this winter. Thanks again and happy growing...John

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 6:45PM
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Oklahoma_Tim(z7a OK)

Hey, thanks for all the replies! Yes, I guess I should have said that I meant isopropyl alcohol, but I just thought that "rubbing alcohol" was specific enough.

The day after I posted my question, I took the infested plants outside and hosed them off well, removing at least the vast majority of the mites. I can hose them off again if they come back, but if isopropyl alcohol will kill them all I think that'd be better. Plus, if the alcohol works I won't have to buy pesticides--at least, not for now.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 9:06PM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

Just please, don't get discouraged if you never really COMPLETELY get rid of them. You need to consistantly spray and hose all winter, especially once you know you have had them, them meaning mealey, thrips, and mites!

If you examine them everyday with a magnifying glass as I use to, or look for distorted leaves all winter, you will find them, no matter what you do, especiallly into December, especially if you even let up on your spraying regimand for at least 2 weeks! lol
I use to.
I almost threw away all my expensive plants at one point, to start all over again. It only takes one mite lurking in the home, window sill, outdoors, floor crevice, or wherever, and they will come back no matter what you use.
With a vengence if you use nothing at all!
That is the nature of the beast with so many plants. That is why some prefer to just have one plant as compared to those that have hundreds.
I am just satisfied knowing that I have the power to at least keep tham at bay, with Tonis insect recipe, and at times with the others suggested here.
We can never be certain there are no pests on our plants. But we can be certain that natural sprays other than "chemicals" ones can at least keep the number of them under control.
It took me coming here to finally accept this fact.
You will find a lot more joy in just being content knowing that you are doing the best you can to at least reduce the amount of pests that would otherwise destroy your babies.

We can always have the upper hand if we are diligent!

Have a happy growing season..:-)

    Bookmark   September 5, 2009 at 1:46PM
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Oklahoma_Tim(z7a OK)

I still haven't seen any more spider mites since I hosed them off, but I still can't help but think that more will be hatching out soon. I sincerely hope that they didn't infest any of my other plants. I don't think they had any opportunity to, though, since for once I had the sense to keep this new plant isolated from my others.

Once you discover bugs in your plants, you've really got to be paranoid about hunting them. Even if you are certain you've killed them all, you still need to watch for them. Nearly every night since I hosed out my palms, I've used a flashlight to search through the mass of foliage, and luckily I haven't found anything. Yet.

meyermike has a really good point with this sentence: "You will find a lot more joy in just being content knowing that you are doing the best you can to at least reduce the amount of pests that would otherwise destroy your babies." You've just got to do what you can to care for your plants, and hope for the best.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2009 at 8:54PM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

Yes he surely does and may I add it's better to throw one plant out(if infested) rather than stressing the entire winter over all your plants getting infested.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2009 at 3:14PM
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