Houseplants forum: Spider mites... 😩

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Name: Brian
Syracuse, NY (Zone 5b)
Houseplants
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GraceHazel
Feb 10, 2018 10:21 AM CST
I just found spider mites that popped up out of nowhere on my young variegated rubber tree... I cut off the effected area (the crown), doused it in anti insect soap and brought it to my quarantine window. How fast do spider mites spread from plant to plant? My plants are packed quite close together but none of the leaves touch. I sprayed just the table with 1 part rubbing alcohol to 3 parts water... I checked the surrounding banana, African violet, coffee, and orchid and I didn't see any.
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Feb 10, 2018 11:01 AM CST
No reason to freak out over spider mites. Yes, they can spread from one plant to another via air currents and your hands, clothing, and tools. I'm not sure cutting off the entire upper stem was warranted.

Spider mites are tiny enough that they were probably present long before you noticed them. The key to treating them effectively is to spray the entire plant with a soapy solution. That means so that all leaf and stem surfaces are literally dripping wet. If you are thorough, one treatment should be enough and it will not be necessary to quarantine the plant once it has been sprayed thoroughly. Check all your other plants and treat them as well if you see or suspect spider mites.

Mites do not survive long on anything other than plant tissue. Alcohol is not needed to treat spider mites.

The presence of any plant pests is a pretty reliable indicator that the infested plants may be under stress for other reasons such as inadequate light or improper watering. It is quite possible to eradicate the pests and still lose the plants for other reasons.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
Herbs Annuals Hummingbirder Butterflies Garden Photography Cactus and Succulents
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gasrocks
Feb 10, 2018 12:46 PM CST
For years I also sprayed with a mix of water and rubbing alcohol. Then I became a little more fierce. You can use the alcohol straight. It does sometimes spot the leaves of some fuzzy plants like African violets though. If you need stronger use Azamax. Gene
[Last edited by gasrocks - Feb 10, 2018 12:51 PM (+)]
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Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Feb 10, 2018 2:56 PM CST
I use Isopropyl Alcohol and Q-tips for an occasional mealy bug problem but my go to is always Insecticidal Soap, which works for most all insect pests. As WillC suggested, you need to thoroughly soak all leaves and stems to be certain to cover any areas where the spider mites could be hiding.

You mention that all of your plants are packed tightly together. Grouping plants together helps with the distribution of humidity but when homes are being heated during the winter months and the air is quite dry, it's difficult to keep humidity at optimum levels for plants and spider mites will flourish in dry air situations. If at all possible, you might want to consider raising the humidity levels in the room where your plants are located. You can increase humidity with a humidifier running for a few hours during the day or at night, or by placing trays of moist pebbles beneath some of the plants and replenishing the water as it evaporates.

When plants are tightly packed together, air circulation is extremely important and that can be accomplished by having a fan running on low speed.

~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot! ~


Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Feb 10, 2018 3:43 PM CST
Alcohol and insecticidal soap are very drying - more than liquid dish soap - and can be damaging to some plants. Soap has the advantage of spreading easily over leaf and stem surfaces and that is what makes it effective. Dish soap is mild, inexpensive, and readily available in most homes.

Lin makes a good point. Spider mites reproduce much more rapidly in warm, dry air.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Laurie b
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
Houseplants Region: Pacific Northwest Sedums Orchids Tropicals Region: Mexico
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lauriebasler
Feb 11, 2018 12:06 PM CST
You can get a reasonable idea of how fresh or how matured your spider mite infestation is by reviewing how you discovered them. Webbing on the plant indicates an advanced issue. If you somehow noticed the bugs with no or very little webbing, you have great eyesight, and have caught the nightmare early. For me, early detection is success and mature colonies with webs, not so much. I will give it a good attempt, but need to see improvement that consistently improves. If I find mites are growing in numbers again, and I have to wait out any of the 7 days to treat again, I cry uncle. However, mites get to me, I get the heebie jeebies from this pest, imagining itchiness, with panic attacks other plants are infested too. They make me a crazy lady.

Gene's miticide is expensive for the casual grower, but is wonderfully effective. I have yet to find it on store shelves in quantities under a gallon. Ordering on line will probably be your quickest and easiest solution. Good Luck.
[Last edited by lauriebasler - Feb 11, 2018 12:09 PM (+)]
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Feb 11, 2018 1:00 PM CST
AzaMax contains 1.2% Azadirachtin, an antifeedant and insect growth regulator, which is the active ingredient in Neem Oil and that is more readily available and may be cheaper.

I still prefer a liquid dish soap spray - cheap and readily available and completely safe to use.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
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sallyg
Feb 12, 2018 9:37 AM CST
For possible encouragement- I took about a dozen plants to my workplace in late fall. Some weeks later, I realized that one (Yautia, an elephant ear type) was going completely spotty with mites under the leaves. I took that home, cut off all the leaves (OK for me if it went dormant) and also scraped away surface soil and discarded. So far none of the other plants at work are showing any mites. None of the home plants either which is pretty unusual- I have had them many winters.
KNOCK ON WOOD

I've been trying to hold back mealybugs on an Agalonema with 50 50 alcohol, and only partial success- will try the soap.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Name: Laurie b
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
Houseplants Region: Pacific Northwest Sedums Orchids Tropicals Region: Mexico
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lauriebasler
Feb 12, 2018 12:25 PM CST
Will, I understand. I agree, however; .............. it's spider mites. Razzlefreakin spider mites.


....spider mites are my one thing I just can't,.....can't handle. It's a physical recoiling that leaves me with a sense bugs are everywhere, my neck included. There oughta be a pill for that.
It's unreasonable and wrong. but .........no.....I can't cope with the thought of them. Truth be told. I have only tried to save a few plants if they get them. I have held a plant like a dead rat, , ran to my sliding glass door, with a plant, and pitchedit as far as I could to deal with later after I pull myself together.

Gene has so many plants, as so many do here. Those of us with 60 or so housepllants can do the organics, if it's important to us. Except me, I gotta kill em super dead.
Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
Herbs Annuals Hummingbirder Butterflies Garden Photography Cactus and Succulents
Birds Cat Lover Houseplants Garden Sages
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gasrocks
Feb 12, 2018 12:55 PM CST
I have so many plants that they are necessarily packed close together in some places. I could not do it without Azamax. I realize that for many of you that is on a bigger scale than you need. My best advice is prevention. You spray and the plants do better, do well. You sit back and relax. Use your spray (of choice) often even if you think you do not have bugs. Stay ahead of the hoards. Gene

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