|I have found hundreds of tiny, orange creatures on my potato and pumpkin plants. I believe these to be spider mites, but I am not positive. They are chewing holes in all of the leaves. How can I get rid of these pests, without using pesticides?
|Spider mites usually leave webbing between the leaves and stems, so check carefully to see if you can find their tell-tale webs on your plants. These pests generally show up towards the latter part of the summer, when conditions are dry and dusty. Spider mites don't chew holes in leaves, but they feed by sucking the juices out of plant tissues, leaving an almost silvery-looking stippled appearance on the topsides of leaves. If the pests on your potato and pumpkin plants are chewing the leaves, they aren't spider mites. Before deciding to control, it's important to positively identify a pest. Until then, you can probably discourage them by hosing them off the leaves of your plants. Healthy plants can take quite a bit of leaf damage before actual harm is done. Since you'll be eating the potatoes and squash, insects on the leaves shouldn't cause too much damage to the harvestable parts of your plants - I'd try hosing the pests off and see if that doesn't do the trick.