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Cultivators always aim to prevent their plants from pest attack. It becomes a great challenge to combat pest infestation after the attack on flowers. Different types of pest attack flowers during growth, such as spider mite.
Spider mites are the most annoying pests because they appear during flowering. Buds start to form at the flowering stage, signifying heavy harvest and good yield.
When your plants get attacked by spider mites at the flowering stage, it becomes challenging to exterminate them. Understanding how to get rid of these pests is an essential skill you need to have. Therefore, before you get rid of the pests, it significant to know your garden enemy.
You can equip yourself better to eradicate the spider mites if you understand the pests that infest your succulent flowers. Therefore, in this article, we will describe how to exterminate spider mites during the flowering stage. But first, what are spider mites?
A spider mite is a tiny 8-legged arachnid and enjoys its life in gardens. They use spin webs to protect their eggs and new offspring. The mites belong to the Tetranychidae family, with about 120 species belonging to the family. Spider mites are not actual spiders, but they are distant relatives of spiders.
The spider mite size is less than 0.003 inches, and their color always varies in different mites. A female spider mite can produce over 1500 eggs in a year. The eggs are hatched after three days, and the offspring take only five days to mature. The rapid population growth poses a severe risk to the farmers who are hoping to exterminate the pests.
The spider mites lay eggs on the underside of the leaves, enabling their multiplication and reproduction. In the beginning, the eggs are transparent, but later, they turn white. They hide from predators by creating silk webs from the bugs.
The bugs gain their nourishment by puncturing the leaf surface. Spider mites suck chlorophyll from the leaves. Chlorophyll is a green pigment-producing substance that helps plants produce their food through photosynthesis. The resultant outcome of mite suction is that the leaves turn white with yellow patches.
This process is known as leaf stippling, and it is the first infestation signs that you should notice. If you don’t check the plants, the leaves begin to curl and fall off after they are sucked dry. You notice web-spinning when mature spider mites migrate to the next leaf. There is evidence of infiltration during migration due to the presence of white web-wisps.
An ideal growth habitat for spider mites is hot and dry conditions. 28 degrees centigrade is the best temperature for the eggs to hatch. Plus, their growth rate is very fast and rapid. So you can imagine the speed and intensity of pest infestation.
Preventing Spider Mites
There is a common saying that “prevention is better than cure.” If you are thinking of exterminating the mites during flowering, we recommend considering some prevention measures. Therefore, it is vital to prevent an invasion of spider mites from occurring in the first step.
You won’t be able to keep the spider mites away from flowering plants for good, but you can prevent an infestation before it gets out of control. To stop the spider mites from destroying the plants, consider using the following prevention methods:
One of the best options for combating spider mites is through predatory mites because they feed on them, and it is the best way of keeping away the harmful mites. If spider mites attack your plants during flowering, first control infestation problem then later introduce predatory mites. You can have a better chance of managing pest attacks.
You should know that never use neem oil or insecticidal soap if you are still using predatory mites. These pesticides are harmful to all mites, including the predatory mites. Predatory mites feed on the destructive mites before causing great harm to your plants during the flowering.
Diatomaceous earth is a crushed element made from fossils of microscopic organisms. It works similarly to insecticidal soap. Diatomaceous earth can easily penetrate the mite’s exoskeleton through abrasions to dry the bugs out.
Do not use predatory mites and diatomaceous earth together because the latter is harmful to all mites. Nevertheless, it is the best way of adding a protecting barrier on your flowering plants by spreading the diatomaceous earth around the soil and plants growing area. It dries and kills all the bugs that try to cross into the garden, including the harmful spider mites.
Therefore, you can create a protective barrier to prevent spider mites from getting to the plants and destroying them. Apart from using predatory mites and diatomaceous earth, you can also use other preventive measures, such as:
- Spider mites reach your plants through different carriers, especially human beings. So it is best not to allow people to visit your garden anyhow. This can help you prevent the invasion of harmful pests.
- If you happen to visit other people’s farms or garden with infected plants, you need to take a good bath and wear clean clothes before attending to your garden. It reduces the spread of pests from one farm to another, and it is hygienic.
- If a severe pest attack has destroyed plants in any part of your garden, clean the area using ideal protective measures.
Methods of Getting Rid of Spider Mites
It is advisable to control the infestation of spider mites at the early stages. If you delay, it can lead to bug multiplication and the severity of the pest attack. The last resort is to use chemical pesticides to control the mites’ aggression during flowering.
The sprays penetrate the buds and flowers of the plants. The flowering stage is critical because buds form, leading to top-quality harvest. So what is the best thing to do to get rid of spider mites during flowering?
Pruning involves physically picking the mites and removing the infected plant leaves. Pay close attention to the plants and deal with pest infestation if the attack is still minor using this method. Chop off the leaves that their surfaces are greatly affected.
You need to cut the leaves with webs and leaves affected by patchy attacks. Pruning enables the plants to retain their natural resources. Consequently, you remove the spider mites through manual picking with your hands but observe safety measures. You can as well use a vacuum tube.
You should repeat this process frequently until there are no leaves affected by bug colonies. If the bugs are not eradicated, they can attack the plants again and infest them. Squish the spider mites in case you are conducting the control process through manual picking.
Again, spider mites are microscopic, so it is difficult to see them with your naked eyes. So it is best to employ the pruning method at early infestation stages. If possible, drop the temperatures and increase airflow to slow down their reproduction rate since spider mites thrive in a stagnant and warm climate.
If you are using the vacuum tube, empty the tube in a sealed bag and discard the bag very far away from your garden. Another good option is burning the bag to protect the plants.
Another method that you can use to control spider mites is washing the plants. This is a standard way of exterminating them from your plants. Washing alone does not kill the spider mites, so you should use concentrated isopropyl alcohol solution.
The mixture of isopropyl and water in the ratio of 1:9 eradicate the mites and their eggs. Spray them using a gentle hose or showerhead to avoid destroying the buds. Try to avoid spraying the buds with alcohol.
Pay close attention to the underside of leaves while spraying because the eggs and bugs dwell there. The alcohol solution kills most spider mites, their eggs, and wash away the webs. Some gardeners use water alone to wash away the spider mites and webs; it only blows them out to other farms instead of killing them.
Pros of Alcohol Solution
- Strong method and it is chemical-free
- Reduces the severity of pest infestation
Use Essential Oils
The majority of gardeners have reported success eradicating spider mites using variable mixtures of various essential oils extracted from plants such as rosemary, eucalyptus, and cinnamon. You need to mix the oil with water and spray on infested leaves using a garden sprayer. Once again, avoid coating the flower buds with this mixture.
Neem oil is one of the most common essential oil used to combat pest infestation. It is a naturally occurring pesticide extracted from seeds of the neem tree. Neem oil can irritate your skin and eyes, so wear protective gloves when applying it to plants.
Azadirachtin is a chemical compound found in neem oil responsible for killing spider mites. The oil interferes with insects’ hormone system, making it difficult for spider mites to reproduce, lay eggs and increase.
It is a difficult task to apply neem oil to affected leaves directly. To reach the spider mites, lift the leaves and apply the oil. Repeat this process after two to three days until the infestation is combated.
When chemical pesticides are used consistently on spider mites, they tend to become resistant. This means that even if they become exterminated initially, the following generation of spider mites might be unresponsive. We know that spider mites are very stubborn and dangerous to your plants.
But we don’t recommend the use of chemical pesticides before using less harmful methods. The chemical pesticides put your plants and risk, and you also risk harming yourself. You can inhale the chemicals or be absorbed in the body through your skin, causing many health problems.
- Readily available in the market
- It gives a clean sweep to spider mites.
- Ideal for non-edible plants
- Very harmful to human beings
Use Insecticidal Soap
Pesticidal soap is another effective method of eradicating spider mites during flowering. This method might be old-fashioned, but it is suitable when dealing with pests. It is also less harmful to human beings.
Insecticidal soap is a spray made from diluted soap. The soap is non-toxic to plants, pests, and gardeners, but it kills most spider mites and their webs. It penetrates the mites’ cuticles, causing their cells to lose moisture and eventually collapse and die.
Apply the insecticidal soap underside of the plant leaves. Tilt your plant leaves and spray the soap evenly. For the spray to work correctly, it should come in direct contact with the spider mite. You can also add some cooking oil in the insecticidal soap mixture to stick on the mites and dry them out.
Carbon dioxide Gas
You need to have the following tools to exterminate the spider mites using carbon dioxide gas:
- Vacuum cleaner
- Meter for measuring pressure gas
- Brushes for cleaning the plants
- Gas cylinder and regulator
You should follow the steps below when using this method:
Step 1: Set the gas meter for 12500 ppm to cover for the gas wasted
Step 2: Calculate the amount of gas required for your garden.
Step 3: Turn on the generator and spray the plants. Leave the garden immediately to avoid suffocation that can result in death. Then switch off the generator once the optimal gas pressure is obtained.
Step 4: Clean the leaves upward using a vacuum cleaner or brush to remove the eggs, webs, and bugs. Repeat this after five days.
Spider mites are a microscopic pest that attacks and destroys your plants in a few days. In the case of spider mites, prevention is better than cure. You can encounter spider mites at various stages, so get prepared to get rid of them during the flowering. You are close to harvesting at the flowering stage, so you want to get a good yield.
You have several options to use, where pruning is ideal at the early stages of flowering. You should consider using non-poisonous and robust control methods such as isopropyl and carbon dioxide solution. Using neem oil is a potent organic pest control method to get rid of spider mites. So choose the best way that can control spider mites effectively.