Answer: What you describe sounds like spider mites. These are tiny little critters that feed on the fluids within the tissues of plants. Look for webbing where the leaves meet the stems. Since rainy weather seems to knock off spider mites, using a forceful jet of water from a hose (syringing) can perform the same task. A regular syringing can keep spider mites under control on most ornamental plants in the landscape. This technique also helps conserve natural predators.
Most spider mites can be controlled with insecticidal oils and soaps. The oils, both horticultural oil and dormant oil, can be used. Horticultural oils can be used on perennial and woody ornamentals during the summer at the 1 to 2 percent rate. Higher rates of horticultural oil (3 to 4 percent) or dormant oil are useful for killing mite eggs and dormant adults in the fall and spring. The insecticidal soaps are useful in the warm season. Remember that mites are very tiny and soaps and oils work by contact only. Therefore, thorough coverage of the plant is necessary for good control.
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