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How to identify, treat and prevent red spider mite

Keeping your vegetable garden in tip top shape is hard and requires dedicates and careful attention to detail. When growing your own food you are creating a lucious, nutrient filled environment that everything wants to enjoy and that hold true for red spider mites. These little sap sucking insections can be incredibly descructive in a very short amount of time. Vigilance and perseverance are the only 2 things that are going to keep red spider mites out of your vegetable garden this summer.

In this video and article I explain how to identify, treat and prevent red spider mites. Each stage is crucial and is required for effective prevention.

How do you identify red spider mites?

 

There are a few ways to know if you have a red spider mite infestation, or you are at the beginning of needing to deploy a treatment and prevention regime. There are 3 telltale signs of the presence of red spider mites on your plants. 

1. The most common visual sign of red spider mites on your leaves is when they start to change colour. The colouration is a lightening on the top of leaves that are more often than not spotty, ending with a leaf that becomes completely discoloured as the mites such the chlorophyl out of the leaves. 

2. The presense of tiny webs is another clear sign of red spider mite presence. Quite often the webs are found on the underside of the leaves and also at the leaf node. A presence of webs is an indicator that the mites have settled in and started multiple generations. This requires urgent attention to bring things under control.

3. You can see tiny little red mites when you turn the leaves over. Sometime you can quite clearly see the mites under the leaves. This is another visual confirmation of their presence and is sometimes coupled with the discolouration of the leaves. Treatment at this point is ideal as they have not yet been able to completely settle into their new home. 

How to treat red spider mites

 

Treating red spider mites comes in 2 phases. Firstly you need to get rid of all the adult, or living, mites. Then you need to target the eggs and subsequent lifecycles otherwise they will be back quicker than you can count to three.

Phase 1: To get rid of all the living red spider mites you need to give the whole plant and the underside of the leaves a good soaking in an insecticidal soap. I use a home made mixture of cooking oil and sinlight liquid that kills on contact. This is not an issue for pollinators as it is contact based. The time of spraying should be as the sun goes down. To reduce the risk of sunburn on the leaves you can spray down the plants the next morning to wash off any excess soap.

Phase 2: To break the lifecycle stage of red spider mites you need to apply a spay of neem oil, which is a 100% organic oil that is incredibly effective at disrupting insect life stages. Initially you can spray twice a week for 2 weeks to make sure they are all gone then you move into the prevention stage.

red mite on plant

Preventing red spider mites

 

Prevention is better than cure they say and that is very true in this instance. To prevent red spider mites you can apply a spray or organic neem oil once every 2 weeks. This will be enough to keep them away and not give them time to colonize and spread out of control.

If you have had an infection of red spider mite then you will need to follow this prevention step as soon as you have gone through the various treatment options available. 

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