Melinda's Garden Moment: Eco-friendly Spider Mite Control - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

Melinda's Garden Moment: Eco-friendly Spider Mite Control

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Hot dry weather is hard on you and your plants, but great for many pests.

Yellowing, speckled leaves and small spider webs are sure signs mites have taken up residence in your plants. These pests suck plant juices, causing the leaves to look somewhat silvery or bronze. As the population grows and feeding increases the leaves can turn yellow, brown and die. And by the time the webs are visible, if there are any, the mite population is very large.

If you suspect mites: shake a damaged leaf over white paper and watch the tiny mites scurry across the page. Start treatment with a strong blast of water on the upper and lower leaf surfaces and stems. Follow with insecticidal soap or horticulture oil. These eco-friendly products are effective against the mites yet safe for people, animals, and the mite's natural predators.

Lady beetles, predatory mites, minute pirate bugs, and big-eyed bugs are just a few of the mites natural predators. Reducing your use of pesticides that can harm these good insects will help reduce the risk of mite damage on your plants. Monitor plants susceptible to mite damage throughout the growing season, especially during hot dry weather. A mated female can lay a dozen eggs per day for several weeks. And these eggs can hatch, the mites grow to full size, and start reproducing in as soon as a week, making control much more difficult.

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