The Q&A Archives: Spider Mites on Ficus

Question: Our two ficus trees have white webbing, yellow leaves and are losing leaves. We've tried insecticidal soap and it's helped some. What is this fuzzy bug? Was it caused by my Fall transplanting of ivy and ferns into the same container? Can you recommend anything stronger than insecticidal soap? Thanks. Marcia

Answer: It sounds as though your ficus trees are infested with spider mites. Don't worry, though, they are fairly easy to control. And yes, you may have introduced them when you added the fern and ivy. Check the undersides of the leaves around the webbingand you will probably see some tiny white spots (that look like a sprinkling of salt) and perhaps some tiny red mites. Spider mites thrive in hot, dry conditions, so begin by spraying your plants daily with plain water mixed with a tiny bit of liquiddish soap. Be sure to spray the undersides of the leaves as well as the tops. Once a week or so, spray with insecticidal soap as you have been. Be sure to spray those fern and ivy too! You mention a "fuzzy bug"--if you see small clusters of white, cottony-looking insects, they are probably mealy bugs. Your weekly sprays of insecticidal soap will also control them. Be sure to target your spray toward those spots most infested..

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