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Spider Mites

The Various Ways to get rid of the Menace of Spider Mites

Spider mites belong to the family of ‘Tetranychidae’ (scientific name). This family of mites is commonly known as the ‘Acari’ and it comprises nearly 1,600 mite-species. Spider mites usually reside under the sides of the plants’ leaves. They spin protective silk-webs and can cause harm by feeding on the cells of the plants. It has been found that these mites are able to feed on many plant species. The mites can be of various colors and are less than 0.1 cm (1mm) in length. The eggs of these mites are spherical, small and transparent. Many species of these mites spin silk-webbing for protecting their colonies from predators. Because of these webs that are created, these mites get the word ‘Spider’ included in their names.

Hot and dry conditions are conducive for mite population to proliferate. If the conditions are optimal, a spider mite is able to hatch within only 3 days. A female spider mite can lay a maximum of twenty eggs daily and can survive for almost 4 weeks. During this period, the mite would lay several hundred eggs. The best-known member among spider mites is ‘Tetranychus urticae’, also known as 2-spotted spider-mite. As a gardener, eradicating spider mites is very important, as the population of these insects grows very rapidly and makes the farmer totally perplexed. Horticulturists suggest taking help of professional pest-management companies in case these mites are destroying the herbs and the vegetables. For a gardener dealing mainly with flowers, taking assistance of miticides is advised.

The first activity that needs to be performed for eliminating these mites is plant isolation. If the spider mite-infested plants are kept away from the healthy plants, then chances of mite migration are reduced. The reason why plants are advised to be kept in clusters is that the mites are very skillful at riding air-currents from and to the plants on which they want to feed. The clustering would retain the moisture, thereby lessening the flow of air in between the various plants. It must be remembered that spider mites do not like moist environments and an arid environment is more suitable for them. Hence, the aim should be to retain the appropriate level of humidity and moisture-content.

A farmer can raise the level of moisture in various ways. If he is nurturing potted-plants, he can keep the pots over a water-platter to elevate the moisture-level. Farmers who are taking care of garden-plants can put in peat-moss for filling up the gaps within the plants. If possible, they can bring the plants indoors and regularly mist the plants with extremely cold water (2 or 3 times daily). This is, in fact, the best method for keeping moisture and humidity levels high. Although this method can be employed for plants being grown outdoors too, the spraying must be carefully done in order to immerse the mites and segregate them from the vegetation.

Another effective way to keep these insects at bay is to keep the plants away from arid conditions. Hence, when there is lot of exposure to sun it is beneficial to provide shades over the weakened or damaged plants. For plants kept indoors, moving the plants away from the windows through which sunrays are entering would be effective. Setting up a humidifier adjacent to the affected or weakened plants would also prove to be beneficial. Experts suggest that if the affected plants are sprayed a mixture of water and alcohol in the ratio of 1:1, the mites are immediately killed upon contact. These mites are not able to withstand alcohol, and stronger the mixture prepared, the higher are the chances of getting a larger quantity of mites. Some experts even suggest mixing alcohol and water in 3:1 ratio to increase the concentration of alcohol.

If all the aforementioned methods fail to deliver results, miticides remain the last option as it can quickly eliminate the mites in most of the cases. The popular miticides that are available in the markets are Kelthane, Avid, and anything that has pyrethoids in it. The miticides ought to be applied once in every 5 days till all mite-infestation indications have disappeared. Biological mite-control measures are also being availed nowadays and these are considered to be safe and eco-friendly.

Trubad Hassan
How to Get Rid of Spiders for Beginners
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