If you’re going to be growing plants then unfortunately you’re going to be dealing with pests like plant mites!
It’s just a fact of life for the dedicated grower.
The good news is that you can fight back and win against plant mites.
This is part one of a two part article series and today we’re going to discuss…
- What are plant mites and why they’re such a big problem
- A complete plant mites identification guide
- How to identify a plant mite problem before it ruins your garden
- Some simple tips to get you started on a “plant mite proof” garden
We have a lot to cover, so let’s get started…
What Are Plant Mites and Why Are They Such a Big Problem?
First off, none of us want little creatures running all over our precious plants…
But unlike beneficial fungi or microbials, which are little living organisms that are beneficial for your plants, mites are NOT a tiny organism you want in your grow room.
The reason why is because these little buggers actually feed on your plants and drain them of valuable nutrients and chlorophyll…
In fact, if you don’t get rid of them they can actually kill your plants!
These tiny creatures are basically like “vampires” that will suck your plants dry and can ruin your entire harvest.
How To Identify The Different Types of Plant Mites
The mite family of creatures are closely related to ticks and even related to arachnids (spiders).
There are many types of mites, some more common than others…
This short guide can help you identify what type of infestation you may be dealing with. Even better, hopefully, you are reading this before you have a problem and it will give you an idea of what mites symptoms to watch out for…
1. Spider Mites – these tiny little buggers (less than 1-mm long) are probably the most common (and most hated) of all indoor garden pests. They are actually little arachnids and because of their small size you may not notice them until they do serious damage to your plants.
There are two reliable ways to spot an infestation: one, look for spider-like webbing. Two, take a tissue and wipe gently on the underside of leaves–if it comes back with streaks of Spider Mite blood–you know you have mites.
2. Broad Mites – are so tiny they’re impossible to see with the naked eye, and still really difficult to see with a microscope. Broad mites reproduce prolifically between 70-80º F. They hatch in two-to-three days and each female can produce 40-50 eggs. Broad mites inject a toxic growth hormone into the plant that slows and distorts growth. Look for leaves with the edges turned up as if your plant is suffering from heat stress–and your plant can even take on a glossy appearance that looks like fake plastic leaves. Eventually, these leaves will turn yellow or bronze then die.
3. Hemp Russet Mites – unlike spider mites, these leave no webbing. Visible damage to your plant, like the Broad Mite, is usually the first signs of an infestation. Unlike most varieties of mites, they only have two pair of legs. They start low on the plant then work their way up, so check slightly above wherever a plant is showing stress with a microscope that’s at least 14x power.
4. Cyclamen Mites – are very similar to broad mites. They’re less than 0.2 mm long and can be colorless to green or brownish. They have 8 legs. Male cyclamen mites have a very strong claw mounted at the end of each fourth leg. They avoid light and prefer high humidity and cool 60º F (15º C) temperatures. Like the spider mite, they feed on the cells of your plants by sucking it out with their mouths. Their feeding causes stunted growth with leaves generally curling upward. Leaves get stiffened and brittle and flowers are deformed or reduced.
Now that you know what mites are, let’s talk about…
What Causes Plant Mite Problems?
Many things can cause plant pest problems like mites, but basically, it’s just a part of growing.
Even if you’re growing in a completely sealed grow room indoors, these pests can still get in.
That said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure…
So take some common sense steps to fight plant and pest diseases using the tips in this article.
In short, keeping your grow room clean & tidy can at least help you stay in control of your grow room and will make it easier to identify pests when they invade.
It helps to think of your grow room—if growing indoors—as a medical room that needs to be kept as clean as possible to avoid unwanted contamination.
If you grow outdoors, this is all much harder because mites are usually found in soil…
How To “Catch” The Plant Mite Problem BEFORE They Ruin Your Plants…
One of the keys to saving your plants from plant mites (and other pests for that matter) is to act fast.
In other words, the sooner you identify you have an infestation by actively looking for mite symptoms, the faster you can fight them and the less damage the mites can do.
Here’s a big tip: don’t just assume your plants are suffering from a nutrient deficiency or other common plant growing problem.
For example, spider mites start to damage your plant causing little yellow specks on your leaves. You might mistake this for a nutrient deficiency and not inspect your plants for pests! By the time you see the webbing from these little creatures, it means they’ve been feeding off your plants for some time doing damage.
So rule number one is do not rule out pests when you see something wrong with your plants.
You want to grab a handheld microscope and carefully inspect your plants whenever you see a problem of any type to make sure you’re correctly identifying the problem.
In short, you don’t want to dismiss some plant stress problems as a nutrient deficiency or some other misdiagnosis only to find out you have a serious infestation on your hands when your plants start dying!
Some Basic Tips To Prevent & To Fight Plant Mites…
- Grow Hydroponically Without Soil If Possible – First off, if you’re growing hydroponically, then you can greatly reduce your chances of having to fight these annoying, crop-destroying pests…That’s because they prefer soil and easily multiply in this growing medium. For that reason, if you’re growing indoors, then use a sterile growing medium with no soil like coco coir or coco coir plus perlite mix. This alone dramatically reduces the chances of bug infestations.
- Start Fighting Pests Right Away – If you have identified a pest problem or any of the mites symptoms, then don’t wait! You want to start fighting the little buggers as quickly as possible because the earlier you catch them the less damage they can do to your precious plants.
- Quarantine Your Grow Room – If growing indoors, it’s helpful to have a “quarantine” area before you enter your actual grow room where you can remove shoes that might have soil on them from outdoors, clothing, etc. Or anything else that might allow you to accidentally bring pests into your grow room. The idea here is that you want to keep your actual grow room as “sterile” as possible.
So what happens if you are doing your best to prevent a problem, but you think you might have mites anyway?
In Part 2 of This Series We Will Show You How To Control and Eradicate Plant Mites From Your Grow Room!
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Because in part two of this article series, we’re going to show you all the strategies you need to successful fight and eradicate these pests from your grow room.