Spider mites are the devil!

tn_veggie_gardner(7)August 1, 2008

I may never grow hot peppers again. I am now considering letting go of my 9th & final hot pepper plant (Cayenne). The mites trashed the others & continue to do so with my new seedlings also. They won't even let 'em get past 2 leaves! The plant I have left is about dern 3 & 1/2 ft tall & still not a single pepper thanks to those ******* spider mites! grrrrrr!!! :( I sit there every day, after applying a Neem Oil spray for almost 2 weeks now, and watch as 5-10 blossoms fall off after they're eaten through & through. :-\ It's damn depressing. Excuse my language. Wouldn't be such a big deal if father-in-law had plenty to give away this year or if all kinds of crap didn't keep getting infected with salmonella. I'm depressed. With liquid Sevin dust, Ortho max 150, Neem Oil, Vinegar around the pot lining, soap water, etc.. all barely even phasing the mites, if doing anything at all, I don't know what to do anymore. I hate to trash the plant, but I could be using the pot for more cukes or something. Any last minute suggestions to maybe save some blossoms? He**, I'd be happy with even one frickin pepper! :( The plant still has 30-40 blossoms that haven't opened yet. PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF ***, HELP ME GET ONE PEPPER! :) Thanks...Peace - Steve

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Steve, are you giving up already? I thought you bought the three in one spray by Safer's. Where are your peppers planted and what kind are they? What have you been fertilizing with and what has your father-in-law been fertilizing with? What stae do you live in?


    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 5:38PM
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I would stop using poisons that kill insects that eat mites.

also too much nitrogen might leave the plant soft for mites.

Here is a link that might be useful: ultra fine oil

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 9:16PM
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Dangould, I recommended Neem oil.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2008 at 7:08PM
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We had great results by spraying the entire plants with a teaspoon of Murphy's Oil Soap in a quart of water. We sprayed twice, about 5 days apart, and saved our plants. Will it work for you? I don't know.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 9:16AM
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tey: I'm close to it. :-\ I've already lost 8 of my 9 original plants. My one left, the Cayenne, is a monster and has already given like 30+ flowers, none of which have grown due to the devil (I mean spider mites...). I did buy the 3 in 1 spray, which is now almost gone. It actually doesn't seem to be working, even with me spraying once to twice daily. The main reason for me possibly giving up is that the mites are now trying to spread to one of my very healthy productive bell pepper plants (btw, I got one turning red that i'll be tearing into later this week!). They are also spreading to my pepper seedlings I planted about a month ago when I got upset cuz they killed all the other plants. My remaining plant is planted in a container, like everything else I have, since it's on my apartment porch. It's a 5 gallon. Long slim red Cayenne is the one left. I've been using a very occasional MG Mato watered down spraying (usually about 2 oz's of mix once every 3 weeks or so). My father-in-law uses the same, but maybe not even for his pepper plants (just matos)...not sure. I know he uses Liquid Sevin for the bugs & he has about 4 Cayenne plants he's gotten 100's of peppers off already. :-\ I live in TN, within a mile of a lake (if maybe that's not helping). The plant is still flowering & still has many buds on it that continue to be destroyed, so if I can find a solution within the next week or so (or sooner if the mites continue to spread to my bell plant), then i'll keep it. Otherwise, it will be planted outside somewhere or just tossed. :(

goat: Murphy's Oil Soap...haven't tried that yet...get at a grocery store?

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 1:28PM
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jmsimpson9(CA 8/9)

The peppers are the only thing the mites are leaving alone in my garden!

They nearly killed my tomatoes and they attacked and stunted the corn.

Spraying every two weeks is not enough. You need to spray weekly.

I spray every weekend end with oil and then midweek I give the leaf undersides a go hosing with a strong spray.

After a few weeks I thought I could stop, withint two weeks the tomatoes were infested again. So for me at least, I have to do this all summer.

Come winter I am going to do a major cleanup/spray of all the landscaping and see if that helps for next year.

I also noticed that the biggest spider mite attractor in my garden is the ground cherries. No matter how often I spray I find mites on the plants. This week they are getting tossed out.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 1:28PM
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Yup, should be in any cleaning section. The trick is to spray a second time, in time. The first spray kills the bugs but not the eggs. They hatch in something like 3-5 days and mature in another few days (Numbers based on failing memory but available online somewhere), so you gotta give the plants a second spray before the young get old enough to lay another batch of protected eggs. We would've sprayed a third time, but the good bugs seem to be holding the bad at bay.

When we move the plants in for the winter..? We'll see when the time comes.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 1:40PM
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Good luck, Steve. I just noticed I have alot of aphids on some of mine today.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 3:40PM
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I gave up. :-\ The thing was getting mutilated still by the mites. I have three fall pepper plant seedlings which are doing well. Hopefully, the mites will be seasonal & go away soon so these few plants can survive. *sobb*

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 2:54PM
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Sorry to hear you gave up. :(

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 11:12PM
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greenhouser(Middle TN Zone 6)


One of my gardens is also full of spider mites and White-fly. So far they're shown total immunity to everything but Systemic which I can't use on a food plant. NeemOil is useless as is 10% Sevin dust, Malathion, Triazicide and Bug-B-Gone. I forgot the name of the first two useless products. The extension agents are also useless because they recommend poisons that don't work anymore. Money makers for the Chemical Industry. That's why the farmers no longer use them. Home gardeners can't get hold of the stuff that really works. Kelthane was one of the best mite killers I ever saw.... just try and find it anywhere. Two spraying and you didn't see a mite for months or years. Chlordane killed Whitefly on contact. You can't get that one anymore either. You can't get the products that work that the farmers use so where does that leave us home gardeners?

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 12:15AM
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Well, it leaves me with 9 dead pepper plants, not a single hot pepper & plans to buy a handful of ladybugs next year which may possibly be the only remedy for us home gardeners. Green: I completely agree...sucks a**...I tried Liquid Sevin, Ortho Max 150, Neem Oil, Vinegar around pot lining, soapy water method, etc., etc...none of which worked. If you ever do end up running into something that works, please pass on. I will do the same, as I have three pepper seedlings which are starting to grow towards adulthood. My second attempt at hot peppers this year. Later - Steve

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 1:18PM
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greenhouser, I'm now thinking in fact it wasn't mites afterall. I put a heavy layer of wood mulch around my bell peppers yesterday and heavily watered them in. They look happy and perky today so hopefully this will have done the trick.

In the past month or two I had mulched with compost from mine own piles, but apperently it wasn't thick enough.


    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 3:44PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

I just discovered spider mites on a small pepper plant, so we blasted it with water to disrupt their life cycle, and tomorrow morning, I'll hit it with murphy's oil soap. I hope it will live! It looks pretty sad at the moment. I picked all the peppers off of it so it's energy can go into leafing out.

I have a huge pepper like 3 years old, loaded with peppers, and we blasted it with water too, just in case. It has leafminers and thripes, but no visible spider mites. I just picked over a pound of jalapeno peppers off that one.

They are both getting a full treatment for the rest of the summer!!

Not fun, but necessary!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 8:23PM
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In my experience with spider mites, if you can't use a systemic, you may as well give up on the plant. The systemics work in 24 hours on non edible plants. I wish they'd come up with one for fruits and vegetables.

I blasted my plants with water last summer and it did nothing to reduce the number of mites or white-flies. >:-(

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 12:27AM
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dancinglemons(7B VA)

Murphy's Oil Soap works pretty good. You might also try Dormant Oil Spray. I know the pepper plants are not dormant but the oil kills the mites. If you can find a petroleum based oil spray that does not contain pyrethroids try that - Spectracide makes one sold at Lowe's.

From the University of California Ag website:
Spider mites frequently become a problem after the application of insecticides. Such outbreaks are commonly a result of the insecticide killing off the natural enemies of the mites, but also occur when certain insecticides stimulate mite reproduction. For example, spider mites exposed to carbaryl (Sevin) in the laboratory have been shown to reproduce faster than untreated populations. Carbaryl (Sevin), some organophosphates, and some pyrethroids apparently also favor spider mites by increasing the level of nitrogen in leaves. Insecticides applied during hot weather usually appear to have the greatest effect on mites, causing dramatic outbreaks within a few days.

If a treatment for mites is necessary, use selective materials, preferably insecticidal soap or insecticidal oil. Petroleum-based horticultural oils or neem oils are both acceptable. Do not use soaps or oils on water-stressed plants or when temperatures exceed 90F. These materials may be phytotoxic to some plants, so check labels and/or test them out on a portion of the foliage several days before applying a full treatment. Oils and soaps must contact mites to kill them so excellent coverage, especially on the undersides of leaves, is essential and repeat applications may be required. Sulfur dust or spray can be used on some vegetables, but will burn cucurbits. Do not use sulfur dust if temperatures exceed 90°F and do not apply sulfur within 30 days of an oil spray. Sulfur dusts are skin irritants and eye and respiratory hazards. Always wear protective clothing/eyewear."""

Good Luck,

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 1:31AM
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I see where there are several natural predators of mites that can be purchased. Several good reviews about them, too. Good luck, Kathy

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 2:09AM
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shelbyguy(z5 IL)

mite-x and no pest strips. no one method will control thm for long. you need a 2 or 3 pronged attack.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 7:18AM
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*shiver* I hated it when I saw this post resurfaced cuz I figured someone had the issue I did last year. I am about 99.99% sure the ones from last year came with me from my uncle's 110 year old house. I have harvested 4-5 peppers already this year and will be getting more than I can handle in a month or so. I currently have a handful growing. I have yet to buy my 20000 or so ladybugs...lol (prob only get 1000). After everything I tried last year, 20,000 ladybugs would still be cheaper...

I have some other wee ones, but these three are the biggest, currently.

Hungarian Wax (pretty hot):

Jalapeno (yet to taste):

    Bookmark   July 11, 2009 at 7:14PM
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Spider mites have infested all the plants on my balcony here in Japan. I checked online to see if I could get some predatory mites since they're pretty cheap these days, but with few Japanese linguist skills, I couldn't really find anything. When I asked one of the biologists at our school about it, she recommended bamboo or wood vinegar. I went to the store to look for it, and sure enough, it was right out there in one of the most prominent places in the gardening section.

I'm going to try it out and we'll see if it deserves that prominent place. Also, I came across a link to the abstract of a study on the use of bamboo vinegar as a pesticide. It claimed about an 85% mortality rate and a lasting effect of 14-21 days.

Finally, what do you guys think about eating basil leaves with spider mites on them? I have tons of beautiful green basil leaves which I'll probably trim to make the spraying work easier. I know one isn't supposed to wash basil, but would they be fine to eat if I just rinsed them off? Or do the mites enhance the flavor? :)

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 12:24PM
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One mite control not really given a lot of mention so far is to spray the bottoms of the leaves with water daily during hot weather, BEFORE you have a mite outbreak. Very helpful. Mites love low humidity and hate a cold shower.

If you have a choice between a sunny spot with a lot of reflected light and heat and one without (but still sunny obviously) pick the one without all the extra heat radiation. As rose growers (which I used to be) know there are certain situations, namely lots of reflected heat which cause the mites to breed like, well, mites. Way worse than rabbits...

Also, is it safe to eat Murphy's Oil Soap sprayed on peppers?? I see some are suggesting people spray their peppers with it. Seems pretty crazy to me.

Before people say "it can't be any worse than what they spray supermarket peppers with" we should stop and really think about that. Is that the standard you're shooting for? While I don't really like using pesticides that much I'm not a total purist. At least the sprays used for vegetables have had *some* testing.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 3:11PM
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I'd recommend washing the mites off before you eat the basil. I always wash my basil, but only right before I am about to eat it.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 12:43PM
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Im wondering if the Murphys oil soap is safe for the food in the garden. I can't seem to find the answer. I already sprayed my whole garden with it and now Im panicking that my food is ruined. Those mites are just driving me nuts!. Someone told me it was safe but I don't know.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 9:30PM
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Chazelle, if it is not save for food then I do not think spraying once is something to worry about. Generally the worry is trace amounts from prolonged use, but you should probably look into it further. Needless to say I would skip the Murphy's until you find an answer.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 9:42PM
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I'm absolutely NOT a fan of soap solutions or much of that organic crap. The problem with soap is that it requires direct contact and does not leave a killing residue after. So if you start spraying a plant, you better hope that it touches every single inch of the plant and kills every single insect (this is impossible). I had aphids once. When you spray the plant, the adults would fly away, only to return shortly after and resume their breeding. The soap solution was completely worthless and nearly my entire crop was destroyed.

The solution? Systemic. You put the systemic in the soil and the plant is protected for an extended length of time. Any time an insect bites into the leaf, it dies. Solved my aphid problem almost instantly. I know all this organic stuff is supposedly more healthy, but do you want chili plants or not? Just be sure and use vegetable-safe systemics according to their label.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2015 at 8:48AM
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I hear some people mention that systemics can't be used for vegetables. This might be true depending which part of the world you are located. For the US, I've used something like this [see picture]. It lasts all season, as opposed to spraying every week.

Besides, if you have over a dozen plants like me, spraying every week is a lot of work...

    Bookmark   February 8, 2015 at 9:03AM
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One of my first years gardening I found my string beans had many moth like bugs fluttering around so I went to HD and bought some pest control concentrate and a pump sprayer. Never having done this I mixed up a batch and sprayed vigorously but there was a lot left over so I spayed some more. A few hours later hundreds of worms came wiggling out of the ground in broad daylight and died, I had sprayed too much contaminating the soil.

I'm fortunate I've never had to use that type of pest control again by trying to garden as organically as possible and tossing plants that are infested rather that treating with harmful chemicals as in above Bayer product, Imidacloprid.

To members of the genus Apis, the honey bees, imidacloprid is one of the most toxic chemicals ever created as an insecticide. The acute oral LD50 ranges from 5 to 70 picograms of active ingredient per bee, making it more toxic to bees than the organophosphate dimethoate (oral LD50 0.152 µg/bee) or the pyrethroid cypermethrin (oral LD50 0.160 µg/bee).[28] (For comparison, the weight of just the DNA of a human cell is about 7 picograms.[29]) The toxicity of imidacloprid to bees differs from most insecticides in that it is more toxic orally than by contact. The contact acute LD50 is 0.024 µg active ingredient per bee.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2015 at 11:18AM
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