Spider mite help...

tropicpalmsNovember 27, 2009

Im jw... why do i get spider mites only during the winter when i bring my plants inside? is it because less harsh conditions than outside? should i just get a pesticide spray? i dont want to loose my plants like i did a few bananas and others last year...

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Spider mites usually only become a problem when its dry, and since homes are usually dry, spider mites attack. Since the east coast is humid during the summer, they usualy vanish once the summer comes. The rain outdoors washes them away too.

My plumerias were attacked by them recently, so I forced them into dormat and am keepin them as humid as possible.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 28, 2009 at 12:45AM
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You might spray your plants every few weeks with an insecticidal soap. That seems to work fairly well, and typically better than other insecticides, from my experience. I grow a lot of indoor banana, hibiscus, palms, upright elephant ears, bird of paradise and plumeria. The bananas, elephant ears and plumeria seem to get hit the worst with spider mites. Aphids seem to attack the hibiscus worse than spider mites. The palms don't seem to get hit as hard as the other plants with insects for some reason.


    Bookmark   November 28, 2009 at 2:42AM
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I would add that when you first start treating your plants(insecticidal soap) you should do it twice a week for at least a few weeks since their egg cycle is like every 5 days,spray well mostly underneath.
Then you can switch to a lemon scented dish soap (tablespoon per gallon)one or twice a week after.
They can be a real pain to get rid of you can't miss any of the plant when you spray.
I learned- after dealing with these all last winter- to start spraying my plants (every other day with soap)for two weeks before I brought them inside.

Good luck-

    Bookmark   November 28, 2009 at 10:23AM
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NoVaPlantGuy_Z7b_8a(Alexandria, VA 7B/8A)

Im having a hell of a time with those little buggers too on my bananas this year. IM not sure why they are proliferating like they have/ are this year. I keep the indoor humidity between 55 -75% at all times. It rarely ever gets down to 50-55% in my place. I would think that in the 60-70% range would be high enough.

All of this information is great! Thanks! My only question is this: When spraying with insecticidal soap, or the dishsoap/water dilute solution, should one cover the soil so as none of the soaps get into the soil and possibly into the root system when you actually water the plant?

Also, I have usually just hosed off plants outside and that did the trick, but this year it seems like that did not work as the mites are back in full force. so I think this time I will hose them off, and then do the insecticidal soap spray. So what brands of insecticidal soaps are best? Also, any particular brand of dish soap seem to work best?

Thanks for the info!

    Bookmark   November 28, 2009 at 10:59PM
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Any lemon scented dishwashing sowp works good ,just keep hitting them every few days!

    Bookmark   November 29, 2009 at 1:33AM
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NoVaPlantGuy_Z7b_8a(Alexandria, VA 7B/8A)

Thanks Jim! I also am wondering what brand of insecticidal soap works best too. I just hosed them off today, but im sure they will be back as there are still teensy weensy little white dots (eggs?) that dont wash off so easy.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2009 at 11:33AM
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I guess any of them would work fine.
I am at the mercy of Wal-wart here as far as what I can get.....so,prevention is the best plan.
I had problems(a lot)last year and lost a lot of plants from the spray/water getting/staying in the crowns of some of my palms.
I started spraying everything coming in the house 2 weeks before I brought them in.
Don't forget to spray twice a week!

    Bookmark   November 29, 2009 at 11:57AM
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NoVaPlantGuy_Z7b_8a(Alexandria, VA 7B/8A)

Well, I have lemon scented dish soap, but no insecticidal soap. I guess ill start out with just that for now until I can get some insecticidal soap. The only thing I need to spray is my bananas. Nothing else as seemed to have gotten the mites.

Ill see what it does. Any other help is appreciated!

    Bookmark   November 29, 2009 at 3:10PM
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Ya mon-you gotta really soak them,if you can take them outside and use a pump sprayer that would be best,every few days 2-3.Did I say that already?(-;

    Bookmark   November 29, 2009 at 5:42PM
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I have posted this before:

Antistress 2000 works brilliantly against mites (not mealies though).

It is not a pesticide. It is a polymer designed to protect plants from frost and dessication, and incidentally it wipes out spider mites. I don't know exactly how it works: perhaps it renders the leaves unpalatable, or maybe the polymer suffocates the mites, who knows? But it does work. 3 applications in 2 weeks and you're done. The only negative is that the stuff is only available in larger quantities, and it smells kind of like elmer's glue. But it is completely safe and biodegradable.

I had mites on a bunch of plants 2 summers ago, and have not had any since.


    Bookmark   November 29, 2009 at 9:54PM
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NoVaPlantGuy_Z7b_8a(Alexandria, VA 7B/8A)

JH- Thanks! I did just that today. Hosed them off pretty hard, twice, then doused them with the dish soap/ water solution. I also flushed out the soil rather vigorously, twice as well. Heres hoping all that works!

Xerophyte, Thank! I may give that a try if I cant get this done any other way. Much appreicated!

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 1:23AM
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Lots of great ideas here to control those spider mites. Another deterrent that works very well is having adequate air circulation such as ceiling fans. We have gone all winter without mites just by misting and having the fans on.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 4:40PM
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I've had the very same good luck using Wiltpruf, which is available at pretty much any garden center in various sizes, including quart ready to use, with keeping mites at bay on most glossy or hard-leaved plants. The stuff isn't a pesticide per-se, but I think it probably suffocates the mites. Be sure to apply liberally to all surfaces, especially the undersides of the leaves and stems. As a side benefit, it makes the plants really shiny and attractive, and also makes them need less water for a while. It wears off in about two months.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 4:41PM
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I think you have the right idea there.
Probably would be a good way to help plants deal with dry air inside the house in winter.
One thing about Wilt-pruf etc,you DO NOT want to spray it inside as it will stain anything it gets on-
Definitely a outside/over 50(F)/the grass application product.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2009 at 10:28AM
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I too have begun to have the mite problem with my indoor bananas. I dug up my large bananas (just couldn't let them wilt and over-winter outside- they looked too good). I have one that is up to about 10 feet tall and another which is about 7 feet. Then the pups they produced all summer were potted and all are from 3 to 5 feet tall and producing their own pups now. These are all potted and residing in an (unnamed publically) retail store I own here in MN. They love the heat and florescent lighting. All of them took off fast in there and produce at least a leave or two a week. The 10-footer puts out 6-foot long leaves!

In the last 2 weeks I started getting yellowing leaves and leaves dying, mostly the lower/older leaves. It took me a while to discover it was indeed the spider mites. 2 of the bananas are severely infested, a few others are starting. I almost lost a 5-footer completely, it only has one leaf living now and I am desperately trying to save it. These are all musa basjoo by the way.

I started with the dish soap method, it seems to have an effect. Cuts them down significantly but I can still see a few moving around each day when I check again. I was going to try to find neem oil but being pressed for time I could only find Ortho Volck Oil Spray concentrate at a nearby home Depot. I'm going to try it and hope for better results. I'll post my experience here for other's benefit (or warning).

I hope these little shi*'s don't spread to all my other plants residing inside the store this winter! I have 2 Xmas palms, large pygmy date palm, 4.5' washy, several trachys of varying sizes up to 5 feet, med. fan palm, sagos, BOP, hibiscus, persian lime, etc. in there.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2009 at 8:19AM
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They will spread if they have not already.
Might be a good idea to move the Bananas to a basement if you can.I am moving away from bringing in stuff that harbors wsm's.
Next year try spraying them every other day a few weeks before you bring them in,or try overwintering.

Good luck
I went through this last year and lost quite a few Trachys for related reasons.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2009 at 11:20PM
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Did you lose trachys to spider mites? I was wondering if they attack and hurt trachys. I was hoping not! This has me more worried now as I thought this might just be limited to the basjoos. That Volck oil stuff actually says on the label it is good for controlling all the bugs, spider mites included, on palm trees. Also says it controls scale which is good because my larger Xmas palm seems to have a minor case of it.

Here is a bad rookie mistake which led more of my potted bananas to get the damn mites. I had a habit of cutting up banana leaves that are pruned off as they start to look bad and put them in the pots as mulch thinking they might like to feed on their own. Stupid huh? I got into that habit when they were all living outside and kind of continued it indoors.

That Volck oil seems to be working though. Label says it does not need to be used more often than every 60 days to control these bugs. I kind of doubt that but am holding out hope. It is also listed on the label to be used as an indoor plant "leaf shine" product if used at about half dosage. It is definitely safe on the bananas as I have observed so far. It did kill more mites than the dish soap treatments did. After a good treatment with it in the morning, I checked late in the day and could not find a moving/living mite on any of the plants. What a bummer, just when my bananas were really starting to look great they get this crap!

    Bookmark   December 3, 2009 at 7:29AM
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how have you all been doin fighing your spider mites thoes who had them... how is i now. mine i thought were going away and out of no where since it has been so cold outside they were all over my elephant ears and bananas im pissed at theese little things i have so many plants under some lights clustered together and ima haveto go through all of them and try to clean them out again. i need to find a solution and fast before they kill some of my plants like last winter. cant wait for march! -Jusin in VB

    Bookmark   January 5, 2010 at 11:51PM
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They were on my plumerias so I forced them all into dormancy. Now some of my plumerias are coming out of dormancy and so far no spider mite (yay). My bougainvillea also had some spider mites and lost all its leaves. Now it is branching out with new leaves, but the spider mites still can come back on that one.
but other than those plants I haven't seen spider mites on any of my others. But my hibiscus are infested with aphids and white flies, but as long as I can keep them in control for another 3-4 more months (when it goes outside again) then the bug problems usually go away.
You should spray it with water and clean all the leaves. It was hard for me to do with my bougainvillea because it has fragile leaves, but with bananas it is a little easier. for your elephant ears you can cut it and store the bulb and that will be a guarantee fix to the spider mite problem.
Hope they hang on until the warm weather comes in, but it seems to me like its going to be a slow, cold start to spring too.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2010 at 1:26AM
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As a follow up to my two posts above, here is my update on my spider mite problems. Good news/bad news. These damn bugs attacked most of my bananas I brought indoors as mentioned above (about 10 total potted bananas, most with pups). I believe they got to my smallest potted trachy also, a 3-footer. Bad news is I lost a 5-foot banana to the bugs. Good news is the bugs seem to be totally gone. That Volck Oil spray worked very well on the bananas and small trachy. Absolutely no sign of the mites since my first couple treatments. I'm misting (with water) all the bananas and palms a couple times a week now. All good so far...

An interesting note on the mature banana I lost. When it was certain I had lost the banana and I was ready to cut it down, I noticed a small pup which was about an inch or two tall and green/healthy. Within days of cutting the mother at just about ground level, the pup had already grown a foot. A week after cutting mom, the pup is now two+ feet tall and making new leaves fast. Healthy as can be also. I've never seen them grow this fast! Especially indoors and in pots.

Bottom line, I believe that Volck Oil spray is a good product. Works well on tender musa basjoo bananas as well as palms (label says it works on palms but does not mention bananas) All of my bananas are now growing about 1/2 to 2/3 the speed they seem to grow in the mid summer. Under bright florescent lighting and constant 76 degree temps. 12 hours on lighting, 12 hours off, 6 days a week. Sundays they stay dark but don't seem to mind. My biggest banana is now over 12 feet and making a huge new leaf about once every 5-days to a week and has 4 growing pups. I'm still feeding them Milorganite about once a month also.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 7:38AM
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