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How to Stop Cannabis Russet Mites and Spider Mites From Threatening Your Crop

It can seem like a never-ending battle. In their bid to stop those nasty little grow-op invaders, a.k.a russet mites and spider mites on cannabis, many growers try every anti-pest intervention known to our community.

Some of these growers use the so-called nontoxic, natural, “organic” sprays and systemic products that contain cinnamon, neem, oils, soaps and various obscure DIY concoctions.

Others use poisoners that are widely known to be toxic, like Avid.

However, try one of these aforementioned strategies, and you’ll soon discover that these methods won’t totally eliminate pests and mites.

In fact, it means they could easily come back, stronger than ever, with some form of pesticide resilience.

And if the interventions did in fact kill the mites, they also toxified the buds, making them unmarketable and unsafe for consumption.

Even worse, poisonous miticides can cause growers a litany of health problems.

Dealing with cannabis russet mites, spider mites, and broad mites can be enough to force some growers into a state of surrender, permanently shutting down their existing grow op and relocating far away from the infestation.

In this article, we’ll share with you what doesn’t work, and the most effective strategies to eradicate mites.

Smartest. Mites. Ever.

It’s easy to hate mites, but you kind of have to admire them, too. Tiny creatures who float around in the air and thrive in the most adverse conditions, persevering despite constant challenges.

Mites have been a persistent problem for the cannabis community for decades, and their range and tenacity is only increasing.

For starters, mites favor hot, dry conditions and stressed plants. And climate change is increasing their range. That’s one big reason why cannabis growers are encountering them in places where mites used to be nonexistent.

Mites are also resilient and adaptive. Due to natural selection and the overarching survival-oriented influence of evolutionary biology, mites evolve to be resistant to interventions used against them — even the most toxic interventions.

Add in recent cannabis legalization, and it’s easy to see why the mite plague is spreading. Through distribution chains, growers and sellers are transporting adult plants and clones more widely than before, and mites are clever little stowaways and hitchhikers.

Spider mites close up on cannabis leaves.

Outdoor Cannabis Growing: Tricks To Use Against Inevitable Insect Attacks

Here’s the scary truth about mites, thrips, aphids, root aphids, fungus gnats, mealybugs, and pests in general that plague cannabis plants:

If you’re growing outdoors, you’ll almost always have infestations you can’t completely prevent or eradicate.

When cannabis plants grow in open air and soil outdoors, they attract a variety of pests and diseases. That’s just one of the unavoidable risks of outdoor growing. No amount or combination of agricultural practices and materials will beat all those perils.

Nevertheless, the most successful outdoor cannabis growers use the following combination of tactics.

They…

  • Feed systemic materials such as SNS-209 and potassium silicate (found in Rhino Skin®) that deter mite attacks by armoring the plants and changing plant scent.
  • Closely monitor their crop to remove and destroy infested plant materials daily.
  • Accept losing a percentage of their crop to insect and/or disease predation, and adjust their plant numbers accordingly so the profit-loss ratio is tolerable for them.

 

And there are a few important things that indoor growers can do, too.

Create A Fortified Grow Room

In contrast to outdoor cultivators, indoor growers can entirely prevent pests like cannabis russet mites, spider mites, thrips, aphids, as well as harmful diseases.

How do they do this? By turning their grow room into an impenetrable fortress and blocking the vectors these tiny enemies use to gain access to their plants.

Simply put, anything that comes into your indoor grow room from outside, including the air we breathe, can transfer cannabis russet mites, spider mites, other insects, molds, and fungi, thus contaminating and compromising your crop’s health.

Pay attention to the following vectors:

a) The outside air which can carry pests and diseases
b) Plants, especially clones
c) People — via their clothing, shoes, and household pets
d) Soil (even so-called sterilized soil) and equipment
e) Other parts of the building in which the grow room is housed

When building a fortress-like grow room, you want to emulate ultra-clean industrial spaces known as clean rooms.

A clean room is a pristine, totally controlled interior space that meets official industry and government standards for air purity, vector control and sanitized conditions.

Clean room protocols include…

  • Leaving personal items outside the controlled environment
  • Prohibiting food and drink in the grow room
  • Sterilizing all tools and equipment
  • Covering hair and facial hair
  • Requiring guests to wear disposable gowns
  • Making clean room stations throughout the facility
  • Investing in PPE (personal protective equipment)

 

By taking a horticultural clean-room approach, you’ll prevent pests and diseases — which is far better than remediation.

You fight an expensive, worrisome, time-consuming, usually losing battle against spider mites, russet mites, thrips, and general cannabis attackers if you let them into your grow room.

No matter what anybody else tells you, it’s rare to find a totally safe and effective way to stop mites and other THC terrorists once they’ve established themselves on your cannabis plants.

However, you can prevent them from entering your grow op by modifying the clean-room protocols so that they’re appropriate for an indoor cannabis garden.

Expert Tips from The CCI Black Book – The Definitive Roadmap for Cannabis Cultivation Mastery. In the excerpt below, you can see how to spot and identify mites and bugs on your cannabis plants.

CCI Black Book Sample Tip - Russet Mites and Thrips

Discover more cultivation tips and visit this page to download a free chapter of The CCI Black Book. The result of experiments across millions of square feet of commercial gardens, this proven roadmap reveals how top growers consistently yield 2.75-3.5 lbs of top-quality flower per light.

How to Get Rid of Spider Mites and Russet Mites on Cannabis Once They Strike

If you don’t have a fortress-like grow room, and your cannabis plants have been invaded by tiny pests, all is not lost.

You still have the chance to save your crop, but few of these options are guaranteed painless, harmless, effortless and wholly effective.

Systemic poisons like Avid do kill mites, but it’s widely agreed they’re not safe for cannabis growers or consumers. In fact, they’re banned in most — if not all — legal cultivation settings.

While natural pesticides can be quite effective in treating most infestations of invertebrates, it is important to follow manufacturer instructions on follow-up applications to kill off hatched eggs and adults that may have escaped previous treatments. Also keep in mind that these types of products can clog stomata on your leaves and leave residue on your buds.

In the past, some growers would try environmental or mechanical options, such as raising ambient CO2 levels to 10,000 parts per million for an hour, heating grow-room air to 100°F for an hour, and blasting the plants with hot air or high-pressure water. Unfortunately, these methods don’t work well and will harm your plants.

If your facility is in legal cultivation jurisdiction, your state or country’s cultivation guidelines will include a list of approved IPM treatments for cannabis.

You Also Want to Establish these Mite-Mitigating Practices

Today, facilities put several protocols in place as soon as they realize their grow is contaminated with russet mites, spider mites, and other pests and diseases.

Some of these protocols include…

  1. Quarantining or Destroying Contaminated Plants: Mites spread rapidly. So make sure to quarantine your affected plants with physical barriers — or even consider destroying them — to safeguard the health of your remaining crop.
  2. Pruning Infested Areas: Depending on the circumstance, you may want to consider pruning leaves and plant material with heavy infestations to reduce the number of mites and improve airflow and access for treatment.
  3. Introducing Biological Control Agents: Certain beneficial microbes — such as Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium anisopliae — can infect and kill a mite infestation.
  4. Maintaining an Optimal Environment: Dry and crowded conditions are a mite’s best friend. So maintain ideal humidity levels, leave space between plants, and promote proper air circulation.
  5. Regular Scouting: Monitor your plants frequently and upclose for any signs of early mite infestations. While not as effective as preventing an outbreak entirely, the sooner you spot spider mites and russet mites, the more you’ll be able to control the damage.

 

And finally, you want to consider…

Introducing Beneficial Predators

Natural enemies of mites can help keep a mite infestation in check.

The following species of beneficial predators are becoming more and more popular in the commercial cultivation space:

  • Phytoseiulus persimilis: This predatory mite is very effective against spider mites, including the two-spotted spider mite, which is a common pest on cannabis. It works by actively seeking out spider mite colonies and consuming their eggs, nymphs, and adults.

  • Neoseiulus californicus: This predatory mite species is also effective on spider mites and is known for its ability to quickly establish populations and efficiently control infestations.

  • Neoseiulus fallacis: This predatory mite works effectively against various species of spider mites, including the two-spotted spider mite. It’s known to tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions, making it suitable for different growing environments.

  • Amblyseius swirskii: While primarily known for controlling thrips, Amblyseius swirskii also feeds on spider mite eggs and young larvae. Some cultiators rely on it as a preventative measure to keep mite populations in check.

  • Stratiolaelaps scimitus: This soil-dwelling predatory mite preys on various pests, such as fungus gnats and thrips. While they don’t go after spider mites directly, they can indirectly help minimize conditions in which spider mites thrive.

  • Ladybugs (Hippodamia convergens): These generalist predators feed on soft-bodied pests, including aphids, thrips, and spider mites. While they may not be as effective as specialized predatory mites, they can still contribute to your overall pest prevention plan.

 

There are multiple different delivery methods for growers working with beneficial predators. Right now, the most popular strategy is to hang sachets from individual plants that release the predators right into the canopy.

This type of pest prevention is quite popular because it not only stops infestations before they start, but also allows the grower to avoid the complications associated with foliar IPM methods.

As always, the best way to mitigate russet mites and spider mites on cannabis is to prevent them from entering your facility in the first place. So make a point to establish a solid pest and disease prevention plan, with thoroughly outlined SOPs, that everyone on your team can follow.

Learn more about how to control pests and diseases to ensure the overall health and success of your high-value cannabis!

Then subscribe to our newsletter now and enjoy more helpful tips and tricks on growing world-class cannabis from our cultivation specialists!

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The Advanced Nutrients Team

Since 1999, Advanced Nutrients has been committed to educating the community and bringing the most up-to-date knowledge to the forefront of grows across the globe. Every article you read here has been curated by Advanced Nutrients’ industry experts, so you can continue raising your bud weight… and your reputation.

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Over time, components within the nutrients settle on the bottom of the bottle. When you pour a bottle without shaking it, you can potentially be pouring out an unbalanced solution. Shaking up the nutrient bottle ensures you are pouring the right blend into your reservoir, giving your crops the nutrition they need.

Usually, it’s not a problem. But some products are incompatible with each other and can damage your plants when they’re used together. For example, bloom boosters with high PK numbers or low-grade silica products can destabilize your nutrient mix and cause nutrient lockout.

Nutrient manufacturers design their products to be used with each other. In doing so, they include specific portions of each nutrient in each product, so crops receive the right nutrition through each stage of the grow cycle. When you stick with one manufacturer, you don’t have to worry about inadvertently destabilizing your nutrient mixture. One example of why you need to stick with only one manufacturer’s products is Advanced Nutrients’ pH Perfect line. These products are designed to keep your crops’ root zone within a specific pH range. When you use them alongside products from another manufacturer, we can’t guarantee your root zone will maintain its optimal pH level.

Yes! If you’re growing with Advanced Nutrients products, you can use our easy nutrient calculator to generate the correct nutrient chart for your crops in seconds. Check out Advanced Nutrients’ nutrient calculator here. Another great resource is our library of free custom-growing recipes. Try our expert grower-tested nutrient schedules here.

You can also download our official BudLabs app to generate nutrient schedules and receive real-time notifications for specific tasks, including feeding your crops. Upgrade to BudLabs Pro to maintain profiles on an unlimited number of crops.

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Our greatest passion is growing great cannabis—and helping other growers do the same. That’s why we offer complimentary cultivation support 24/7 from Monday to Friday and from 9 AM until 7 PM PST on Saturday… With the same level of advice licensed producers would pay consultants tens of thousands of dollars to unlock.
Just call 1-800-640-9605 or email support@advancednutrients.com. For Spanish-speaking growers, email spanishsupport@advancednutrients.com.

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Advanced Nutrients has spent many thousands of man-hours developing a technology that automatically balances your pH for you — putting it in the “sweet spot” and holding it there for one week.

And the technology is so “smart” that it can account for many of the aforementioned variables in your grow room. Our proprietary pH buffering agents and stabilizing mechanisms became the foundation of a new system aptly called pH Perfect® Technology. Learn all about it here.

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