If you’re someone who finds themselves mainly in the garden, tending to their newest plants, then you know there’s no better feeling than finally seeing the fruits of your labor blossom forth (quite literally, in this case).
The flowering period for your plants has to be the most rewarding – and yet; it is not without its risks. There are a variety of problems that you can face when you see your plants finally flowering, and one such problem is the advent of spider mites.
Once spider mites have made a home for themselves in your garden and your plants, then it can be quite difficult to get rid of them – mainly owing to their reproductive capacity and evolutionary instincts.
Luckily, hope is not lost – you can still salvage your plants in time for them to flower in a healthy manner. Let’s see what the best way to get rid of spider mites during flowering is – all of these methods are incredibly simple and highly effective so that you can implement them with ease!
What Are Spider Mites?
While the name and appearance of spider mites may suggest them to be spiders, they’re actually not so. They do belong to the arachnid family, however, and more specifically, the Tetranychidae. These arachnids are extremely small yet brightly colored and have incredibly high rates of reproduction.
Of course, these high rates of reproduction can prove to be a hindrance during flowering. Spider mites too need their nutrition, and they derive it by extracting chlorophyll out of leaves. The leaves then start to “stipple” and showcase discolored patches within themselves. The stippling is usually a warning sign, and if unchecked, your plants’ leaves will begin to wither and die out after losing substantial amounts of chlorophyll.
The maturity rates of spider mites are pretty high as well. Young spider mites can mature and turn into sexually active adult spider mites in a matter of less than a week – after which female spider mites can lay around 30 eggs per month. Once the females have started to lay eggs, it is only a matter of time before the eggs give way to more baby mites – so it is best to nip the infestation in the bud.
Can Spider Mites Be Prevented?
You’ll be surprised to know that you can prevent the occurrence of spider mites for good on your plants. If you do not give a chance for spider mites to settle and begin their life cycles, you can have significantly healthier plants – and all you need to do is follow certain steps to make sure you’re not accidentally responsible for a large-scale spider mite infestation.
Countering spider mites by letting loose predatory mites that can prey on them is an excellent way of ensuring that spider mites don’t settle in. You can also use diatomaceous earth – a substance that you can use on your plants that is fatal to spider mites.
Another measure you can take is allowing as few visitors as possible near your plants since human beings have widely been known to be the carriers of spider mites. If you’ve been away at places that you think might have had spider mites, then a good idea is a change of clothes before you’re going anywhere near your plants.
How To Get Rid Of Spider Mites During Flowering?
This is the easiest method you can use to get rid of spider mites during the flowering stage – but the only downside to it is that it can only be used when the infestation is not too widespread. This method involves you have to prune or manually clear out spider mites and the leaves that have already been stippled in your plants.
Remember the patches of yellow and white that your leaves can get because spider mites derive their nutrition from chlorophyll? You need to either cut out those areas of your leaves – or remove the leaves if most of them have been affected by the spider mites already. You can also use a vacuum tube for this purpose till all of the infested leaves and spider mites have been removed.
As for the spider mites themselves, this is the hard part of the pruning method – you’re going to need to squish and destroy any spider mites you see during the pruning process. This ensures that you’re taking out as many of them as possible – since if they’re not removed efficiently, they can just come back and begin infestation all over again. If you’ve used a vacuum tube to remove the spider mites, then you can dispose of them in an area that is very far away from your plants. You can also choose to burn it.
2. Alcohol Solution Wash
Another method you can employ to get rid of a spider mite infestation in your plants is washing them. You may use water to hose your plants – but this is not a long-term solution since the spider mites can simply come back to the plant because they’re not exterminated. On the other hand, if you combine isopropyl alcohol and water in the ratio of 1:9 subsequently, you can see greater changes.
The alcohol makes short work of the spider mites, and their eggs will also be removed from the plant. You’ll need to pay attention to the underside of your plant leaves since that’s the area where spider mites leave their eggs. If only a single plant is infested, then you can attempt to wipe it down with the isopropyl alcohol and water solution instead of using a hose to spray the plant.
3. Predator Insects
As we mentioned before, there are also some predator insects that you can employ to do the job for you. These can be the aforementioned spider mites or even ladybugs – since their primary source of food is spider mites. They take it upon themselves to do the dirty work of removing the spider mites for you, so you don’t have to.
All you will need to do here is release a horde of these predator insects onto your plants that spider mites have recently infected and wait for the former to do their job. After clearing your plants out of the spider mites, these predator insects will simply fly away to another location wherein they’ll find more prey for nutrition.
You can sit back and let nature take its course with this simple technique – but you’ll have to keep in mind that this method mainly works when the infestation has only just begun. Once spider mites begin to reproduce in earnest, then the efficiency of the predator insects simply won’t be enough.
4. Spraying Carbon Di Oxide
This is an effective yet specialized technique to clear your plant of spider mites during flower. You’ll need some equipment for this method, namely, a vacuum cleaner, a carbon dioxide gas cylinder and a regulator, a gas measuring meter, and brushes to clean your plants afterward.
You can set the carbon dioxide gas cylinder to anywhere between 12,000 ppm to 15,000 ppm, depending on where your plants are situated. This helps to reduce the wastage of your carbon dioxide gas. Calculate how much gas you’re going to require for your plants with regards to the surface area.
You can then switch on the generator and leave the area immediately, as carbon dioxide can indeed be fatal and cause quick suffocation. Once the optimum pressure of the gas has been reached, you can turn off the generator. A good step here would be to let the exhaust fans keep running for a while after to ensure all carbon dioxide has been removed.
Lastly, you have to clean your plants with a vacuum cleaner for any webs, eggs, or remaining bugs. This is an excellent method since it does not hamper your plants at all – but instead will be fatal to the spider mites only.
5. Use Horticultural Oils
There are various horticultural or essential oils that you may use to get rid of the spider mites currently infesting your plants. Its constituents, bitter taste, and strong smell are undesirable to the spider mites, and they’re adversely affected by it. You can use essential oils such as neem, which are obtained from the neem tree.
A constituent of neem oil called azadirachtin is fatal for the hormone systems of spider mites and greatly reduces their reproductive abilities – which means that they all die out sooner than later. You can use horticultural or essential oils by mixing them with water and spraying them over your plant.
Keep in mind that you should avoid the buds and plants that are bearing fruits since the bitterness of the oil may negatively affect this process as well. Wear gloves to be careful since neem oil is not very soothing to human skin. You can attempt to apply the oil to the underside of the leaf by lifting it. You will also need to repeat this process in a couple of days to ensure the infestation is removed for good.
6. Chemical Pesticides
If you’re still stumped and have tried all the above methods on how to treat spider mites during flowering, then you might want to try using chemical pesticides on your plants instead. Available in various forms in the store, these chemical pesticides may work for you if nothing else does.
However, you do have to keep in mind that chemical pesticides may cause the spider mites to become resistant – meaning that through generations, their body may evolve to withstand the toxins in chemical pesticides. So you need to use this method sparingly since using it often may lead to the spider mites becoming resistant and unresponsive to the chemicals at all.
You also need to exercise a great amount of caution, as chemical pesticides can be very harmful to human beings as well – and using great amounts of them frequently may damage the plant. It is recommended to use chemical pesticides on non-fruit-bearing plants only.
Now that you know how to perform spider mite control during flowering, it is necessary to implement these methods as quickly as possible – since, as we have already seen, the longer you leave the spider mite infestation to grow, the longer you leave the spider mite infestation more difficult it is to remove. These pesky tiny insects are more powerful than they look – and in a way, days, if left unchecked, they can completely destroy your plant that was just on the verge of flowering completely.
With these methods, you do not have to worry about this happening anymore. You can avoid the spider mite infestation once and for all by taking preventive measures as well and having your plants be healthier and happier than before.