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Spider mites or something else...?

Posted by elliekhan Australia, QLD. (My Page) on
Thu, Nov 8, 12 at 22:17

I need some help with my poor maple. I recently did a post complaining about new leaves drying up and dying before they fully matured. Upon closer (much, much closer) inspection, i saw this TINY little white bugs...and I mean, tiny. I could barely see them. I think I need to get a magnifying glass. But they were there, and they were definitely walking around. I also notice the leaves have a hairy soft film on them, and tiny white dot (maybe just dead bugs, who knows).
I had a terrible Afid infestation last year, so I am familiar with what they look like and the damage they cause. These are definitely not them. I think they might be spider mites, or some kind of mite, purely by how small they are. The problem is, the leaves are dying, even more they fully developed. Fortunatly these little bugs have not spread to every leaf on every branch, but it is attacking the most recent growth on the tree, so Im worried it won't grow to it's full potential this spring.
Just a note: My maple is a year old and in a container. I water it 2-3 times a week, as necessary.
Is there anything I can do to get rid of these pests? I have been reading a lot of reports on the internet that Neem oil is detrimental to maples......

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Spider mites or something else...?

I'm going with the "something else" :-) Spider mites produce very fine webbing, usually between the leaves and their branch/stem attachment. The webbing is why they are referred to as spider mites. And they are red, not white, but very tiny......almost microscopic. The best way to determine is to hold a piece of white paper below a branch and shake it gently. The mites will fall off and you can see the minute things in contrast to the whiteness.

Pretty much anything other than water is harmful to JM foliage. It is quite sensitive to virtually any type of insecticidal or fungicidal spray and the use of any of these products often creates a phytotoxic reaction. Just hose the plant down with a strong stream of water. If small enough, you can use your fingers to gently wash off individual leaves. And if it IS spider mites, the increased humidity resulting from frequent spraying of the foliage should keep them at bay. Spider mites prefer warm and dry environments.

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