Spider Mite Hell

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Spider Mite Hell

Post  The Mule on Tue Dec 02, 2014 10:48 pm

I have a narrow leaf weeping fig that has been having an on again off again spider mite problem for years. The tree has a gorgeous gnarled trunk and is really beautiful, especially when the mites are at bay and its leaves are flourishing. I'm in NYC, and the tree lives in a windowsill with north and east exposure year round. Winters can be very dry here and spider mites are always a threat. They used to wreak havoc on my cordylines and a few other plants I used to keep, until I finally got rid of them. I now keep succulents almost exclusively (spider mites don’t bother them), with the one exception being this ficus.

Whenever I see signs of mites (yellowing leaves, stickyness on the leaves, webbing, etc.), I take a look with my magnifying glass to confirm it is in fact mites. I then take action. I’ve tried spraying the tree with various soaps, pesticides, etc. I’ve tried predatory mites. I’ve given it showers… I’ve done pretty much everything anyone ever does in order to combat these little bastards. But inevitably they come back, often around this time of year. The only thing I can think to do at this point is to defoliate the tree, essentially cutting off the mites’ food source. But this is normally something I would only do in summer when the tree is putting out new growth. It seems dangerous to do that now. But otherwise, the tree is going to lose its leaves to the mites anyway. Can anyone offer any advice to help me rid this tree of this awful pestilence?

The Mule
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Re: Spider Mite Hell

Post  kevin stoeveken on Tue Dec 02, 2014 11:09 pm

i only suggest this because it is your first post and not to be a mamaluke or a wise guy or nothin' like that,
but did you do a search using the search button up in the menu bar ?

seems like there should be plenty of info on such a common pest...

my other advise would be "safer soap" but it sounds like you already have tried that...

(btw is your handle a reference to "the Mule" from the isaac asimov foundation books ???)

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Re: Spider Mite Hell

Post  augustine on Wed Dec 03, 2014 2:08 pm

In addition to the insecticidal soap you could also use an oil mix.

1 tablespoon mild dish detergent (like Ivory soap)

1 to 2 tablespoons of veg or neem oil

in one gallon of water. Place in spray bottle, shake well before every use. Some add a capful of rubbing alcohol directly into the spray bottle.

Also I would continue to continue to give them a shower in slightly warm water every week. A fan blowing on the tree may also help. Placing it outside during the summer, if possible, is recommended.

Good luck.

augustine
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Re: Spider Mite Hell

Post  kevin stoeveken on Wed Dec 03, 2014 3:26 pm

oh yeah... and fly paper too... the cheap stuff that comes in a tube and you pull the strip out...
i hang a couple in my office next to my trees and they work to reduce the population of anything that flies alien


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Re: Spider Mite Hell

Post  The Mule on Wed Dec 03, 2014 3:35 pm

Thanks guys. Neem oil has been suggested in the past. I believe I used a spray called Natura which had neem oil in it. Will try again. Are the commercially available neem sprays too weak a solution or something? Should I mix my own solution? Try other more aggressive pesticides like Avid or bifenthrin? I'll try the showers again too.

The fan idea is interesting. Maybe I could make that work somehow. And putting outside for the summer, while possible (I have a balcony) is not a good idea. NYC pigeons will destroy the tree. I've tried numerous times to keep "real" bonsai on the balcony, and the pigeons always roost in them, tear off leaves, dig around in the soil, poop all over the place. It's an absolute disaster. Can't grow tomatoes or herbs either for the same reason.

And beer city snake - no, it's not a reference to those books (though I did read them about 30 years ago!). It's a nickname I acquired on my own back in the 90s. Very Happy

The Mule
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Re: Spider Mite Hell

Post  Leo Schordje on Wed Dec 03, 2014 4:38 pm

A few thoughts.

Good air movement, a fan in the vicinity of where the ficus are growing will help. Higher humidity will help also. Humidity is difficult to keep high indoors, without peeling the paint off the walls, so you may not be able to effectively do this.

Second, when you treat for mites, do you treat every single live plant in the home? Many plants are able to host a small population of mites (even succulents) and often don't show symptoms. These populations hiding out on other plants re-colonize the Ficus the day after you spray the Ficus. It is imperative you treat everything in the house if you want to get the problem under control.

Third, all the sprays you mention are in the "natural chemicals" category. If none of these give you control you may just have to resort to synthetic chemicals. I have used Pentac and Avid, but there are many others out there. These are toxic, but they work. Our bonsai are valuable enough that I think it is worth the expense to get control. As always, read the labels and follow directions especially with the personal protection recommendations.

Repeat spraying is mandatory, no matter what you use, you must spray a second and third time in a time interval shorter than the time it takes for eggs to hatch, grow to maturity and begin laying eggs again. For mites I believe 5 to 10 days is typical, the warmer it is in the growing area the shorter the interval. Eggs are not usually affected by sprays, even the heavy duty chemical sprays, so at a minimum plan on spraying 3 times to ensure clean up of an infestation. IF you don't do this they will keep coming back. For a bad infestation it once took me 5 spray cycles to eliminate them. So once you start a spray cycle, you need to keep at it - and each time it has to be every living plant in the house, or you won't get them all. The natural sprays can work well if you keep the repeat spray program up, but since they are not really toxic, the number of repeat sprays may have to be more than with the chemical sprays.

Hope this helps. You have my sympathies, when I spray, I have 100+ sticks in pots and 1000 orchids to spray, so it can be a major, all day job for me.

One source for a wide range of professional grade pesticides is http://www.hummert.com/
They will ship to home and hobby growers.

Leo Schordje
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Re: Spider Mite Hell

Post  The Mule on Wed Dec 03, 2014 4:54 pm

Wow... Thank you for that very informative reply! I had never considered the possibility that my succulents could be harboring small colonies of mites. I'm betting you're right on the money with that and that is what has been happening, as I have only treated the ficus in the past... Thanks also for that link. I'm trying to decide if I should just go straight to the professional grade pesticides now. I'd want to only spray those outside and it hasn't gotten bitter cold here yet, so that is still a possibility. Alternatively I could try again with the natural stuff like a Neem spray, treat every plant thoroughly and if the problem recurs/persists in spring, then go the heavy duty chemical route. Will think on that. Maybe I'll contact Hummert today and see what they suggest. Thanks again - I appreciate the sympathy and the advice!

The Mule
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Re: Spider Mite Hell

Post  kevin stoeveken on Wed Dec 03, 2014 5:55 pm

oh yeah, and i forgot to mention:

LEO RULES !!! king

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aka beer city snake
link to ARBOR ARTS COLLECTIVE BLOG

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Re: Spider Mite Hell

Post  The Mule on Wed Dec 03, 2014 9:08 pm

Got a very helpful (and quick) reply from Hummert:

"Hello

Spider mites are not easy to completely eradicate. Fortunately, they have a life cycle that is easier to control than other pests. First of all, you’re sure these are spider mites? Other bugs can show similar damage and symptoms.

If so, the best thing you can do to ruin their day is submerge the plant or at least the foliage in cold water for a minute or so. Do this every other day for a week and this should take care of all adults and nymphs. The only thing to survive this will be any eggs on the plant. So, in about 10 days do the same thing. You can use the same water (5 gallon bucket would work).

If the above is not feasible (plant too big, whatever) spray with what you’ve been using but be sure to do the following: 1.Make sure you get under the foliage and contact all leaf surfaces. 2.Make sure you make three treatments, each about a week apart. This will make sure you get all parts of the life cycle. Most pesticides won’t kill the egg stage. Once the eggs hatch they are susceptible. Even if you see no sign of the pest, treat three times.

One (or both) of the above should help take care of the mites. Keep your eye on other plants as mites will latch on to cacti also. Right now they’re just preferring the ficus.

Hope this helps.

Mike Hellmann
Horticultural Sales"

The Mule
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Re: Spider Mite Hell

Post  Leo Schordje on Sat Dec 20, 2014 6:34 pm

Interesting reply from Hummert, I did not know about the cold water trick. I have some truly tropical orchids that the cold water trick would cause leaf collapse and potentially kill the orchid if the damage was extensive enough, but Ficus should tolerate the cold water treatment reasonably well. Maybe some leaf drop, but it won't kill them.

His comments about the mites moving to cacti and other plants does reinforce the idea of treating all green plants in the area, not just the ones showing the symptoms. '

It is great customer service when a company as large as Hummert gives individual responses to inquiries from "retail quantity" customers. I have always had good service from them.

Thanks for sharing this response.

Leo Schordje
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Re: Spider Mite Hell

Post  coh on Sat Dec 20, 2014 9:05 pm

I've been able to control (not necessarily eradicate) mites on some of my indoor trees simply by regularly spraying the whole plant with a hard stream of water - like everyday, until the population is reduced. Have also done this with some outdoor plants.

coh
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Re: Spider Mite Hell

Post  Sorcertree on Sun Dec 21, 2014 10:40 am

My mites prefer a little orange seedling over ficus. You can keep one on the sill and spray it constantly.

If you can put the ficus on a stand off of the sill, it will lessen your infestations, and your orange will tell you when it's bad.

I don't like spraying chems, so I recently dabbed miracle grows 3i n1 mite and disease under every leaf with a qtip.
Time consuming, but effective. Now when I bump them with my fingernail, they don't run, they fall off, all dead!

Sorce

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Re: Spider Mite Hell

Post  DjTommy on Thu Dec 25, 2014 3:42 pm

A few days ago i had some trouble with bugs on a white pine, i sprayed the whole tree with a product called orutoran, this contains acephate which is pretty strong, now all of them is gone so seems it worked.
Grtz

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Re: Spider Mite Hell

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