Identify Spider Mites and Exterminate them Organically
Do you think you have spider mites?
The worst thing you can do is wait, spider mites breed very fast. Once you identify spider mites, the quicker you get rid of them, the better off your plants will be.
Spider mites multiply fast and the longer you wait the harder they are to get rid of. Even a mild case of spider mite infestation will reduce your yields by 20% to 30%. If left untreated they can make an entire crop completely worthless, unless your patients enjoy smoking mites and mite webbing.
Spider mites are commonly referred to as “The Borg” because they can be a nightmare to get rid of without the proper tools and knowledge. Even if you kill every single spider mite except one egg you will have another infestation on your hands.
Luckily for you, identifying spider mites is very easy and killing them is even easier if you have two very specific products AND you know how to properly use them. If you don’t have the right products and the right knowledge you will be battling spider mites forever while losing money every day.
I will explain how you get spider mites and how to identify them, how to effectively kill spider mites, and the different ways to prevent them in the future. If you follow my advice, spider mites will be a problem of the past.
How do I get spider mites?
Let’s start with the basics. How does one get spider mites in their cannabis grow room?
You will generally get spider mites in two ways.
They hitch a ride from outside into your grow room. They can get on your clothes, your pets, and (most commonly) through your ventilation. If you live in an area that is known for heavy spider mite infestations on outdoor crops it is likely how you acquired your new friends.
The second way they get into your grow room is from gifted clones from other growers that have spider mites. Many commercial growers do not accept clones for this very reason and will only grow from seeds. Never have spider mite issues before and recently get a clone from a friend? Yeah, what a good friend that was!
How do I identify spider mites and know if my plants have them?
Identifying spider mites can be very easy if you know what to look for. But keep in mind they are very small so it can be hard to identify them when you only have a few spider mites. Lucky for you they multiply fast.
Spider mites do not like the light, you are most likely to find them on the undersides of leaves and more towards the bottom of your plants. Grab a leaf and flip it over, do you see little dots the size of a grain of salt? If so, you have spider mites. You might even see some webbing on the underside of the leaves as well.
If you let the mite damage progress you may begin to see small yellow or pale dots on the top of your leaves. The spider mites will pierce the surface of the leaves in order to feed off the inside of the leaves.
Once the problem starts to get worse the leaves on your plants will start to claw and curl and you will start to see severe webbing, this means you have a serious infestation and should start treating the plants immediately if you haven’t already.
How do spider mites affect my plants and bottom line?
The spider mites feed off the inside of your plant’s leaves, this is what causes the damage to your plants. All leaves have microscope holes (called Stomata) that open and close to regulate how much water is transpired (let off) from the plant.
The holes the spider mites are creating in your leaves will begin to let off excess amounts of water. Your plant will respond by closing all of the Stomata in an effort to slow the loss of water. The problem is the plant uses the Stomata to intake and exhaust CO2 and Oxygen. If they aren’t functionally properly your plants will suffer and so will your yield.
At this point, you might as well have a spider mite infestation inside your wallet feeding off your hard-earned money.
Why is it so hard to prevent spider mites?
Preventing spider mites from getting into your marijuana grow room is very tricky for a number of different reasons. The first is spider mites can be incredibly hard to see. You can see them with the naked eye but they are very easy to pass over because they can be anywhere on the plant.
All it takes is one spider mite to start an infestation. Even if you spray your plants and kill 99% of them, they will bounce back, and sometimes with a vengeance.
Another reason that makes it so hard to prevent spider mites is that it is nearly impossible to kill spider mite eggs. If you spray your plants today and kill all of the living spider mites it will do nothing come tomorrow when all of the eggs hatch and start laying eggs of their own. This leads to the key of how to effectively control spider mites.
Effectively controlling spider mites
The key to effectively controlling spider mites is to spray and to spray often, when you spray your plant it only kills the adult spider mites leaving the eggs free to hatch and reproduce. You have to wait for them to hatch and spray again.
Know that the eggs take about 3 days to hatch which means you will have spider mite eggs on your plants hatching at different times over the course of the next few days even AFTER all the adult spider mites are killed, you will need to spray your plants every day for the next 3 or 4 days to even have a fighting chance.
Killing Spider Mites
Once you identify that you have spider mites there are a number of different products are on the market to kill them. Many growers turn to pesticide-based products like avid, pyrethrin, and Forbid, these products can be toxic to humans and animals and aren’t the best idea to be spraying in a small area.
Another disadvantage of pesticides is over time spider mites can become resistant. If you choose to use pesticides you can’t use the same pesticide over and over again. This will increase your cost because you will have to buy multiple expensive pesticides, for example, 8 ounces of avid is around $95.
For these reasons, and more, I always recommend avoiding pesticides altogether. The reason people use pesticides is that many people think it’s the only effective solution. With spider mites, you have a great alternative to pesticides that is 1. Less Expensive, 2. More effective, 3. and much safer to use on your plants and for yourself. Let me show you.
The Secret One Two Punch to kill spider mites
The secret products are no secret at all. They have been used by traditional growers worldwide for hundreds of years. The first product is called Neem, which many of you may have heard of it before. Neem works by suffocating the spider mites. This is good news (not for the mites of course) because it means they cannot become immune from it. It doesn’t matter how many times I put a plastic bag over your head and choke you to death you cannot build up a tolerance to that. That is exactly what Neem does to spider mites.
What are the benefits of Neem?
Spider mites cannot build an immunity meaning it will always be effective.
Completely non-toxic to humans and pests. In fact, some people take Neem as a health supplement.
It is systemic, meaning you can feed it to the plant via the soil and the benefits will spread through the plant helping to prevent it from diseases and pests.
Effective against mildew, mould, and other diseases.
Where does Neem come from?
Neem is commonly found in South Asia and comes from the Azadirachta indica tree. The active ingredient that works to kill the spider mites (and many other insects I might add) is Azadirachtin which is extracted mostly from the seeds of the Neem tree.
The Second Product needed to kill spider mites is a wetting agent.
I want you to understand that the Neem itself WILL NOT KILL SPIDER MITES. Let me repeat that. Neem itself will not kill spider mites. This is one of the main reasons people will use Neem, it doesn’t work, and they will go around thinking Neem doesn’t work on spider mites.
Let me explain how the Neem works to kill spider mites. The purpose of the Neem is to get into the tiny pores in the spider mite’s exoskeleton and cut off the air, effectively suffocating the mite. However, the mites have a natural defence against this.
When the Neem is sprayed and soaks into the pores of the mite it causes air bubbles to be trapped. Those air bubbles will give the mites enough oxygen to survive. So what can you do? The key is to reduce the surface tension of the Neem and Water mixture so no air bubbles get into the pores.
To reduce the surface tension you need a wetting agent, many different wetting agents exist. Some growers use dish soap as their wetting agent, dish soap will work to kill the mites but I do not recommend it.
Dish soap clogs the Stomata of your plants and has no benefits to the plant (besides helping kill spider mites). I like to give my plants products that will only benefit their health. What I recommend instead is Yucca Extract.
What are the benefits of Yucca Extract?
Safer to use than dish soap doesn’t do any damage to your plants.
100% Organic, natural, and biodegradable.
Can be safely applied to the soil
Helps to reduce plant stress
Treats and prevents fungal diseases
Yucca extract can also be added to your nutrient water to increase the penetration into the soil. This will more evenly distribute the nutrients to the plant as well as increase its drought resistance. Yucca extract is also one of the best anti-stress agents for plants.
How do I use Neem and Yucca Extract to kill spider mites?
Killing spider mites with Neem and Yucca Extract is quite easy.
Add the following to 1 gallon of water;
|20mL of Neem||(4 teaspoons)|
|5mL of Yucca Extract||(1 teaspoon)|
and place it into a garden sprayer.
You then need to spray the ENTIRE plant. This is the important part. The Neem has to coat the spider mite in order to suffocate it.
You will want to thoroughly spray every. single. leave. and. stem. top. and. bottom. I will repeat that. You need to spray every single leaf and stem, top and bottom, on the entire plant if you want any chance of killing the mites.
Pro Tip: Spider mites do not like light so they hide on the underside of the leaves, make sure you spray ALL of the undersides of the leaves.
If you leave even 1 mite it will multiply and you will be back to square one.
Remember, Neem and Yucca Extract will do nothing to kill the thousands of spider mite eggs that are on your plant. What you need to do is spray your plants again (thoroughly) every day for the next 3 or 4 days as the eggs hatch.
Preventing Spider Mites
If you got spider mites once you can get them again. I recommend spraying your plants once every week or two to help kill any spider mites that may have cropped back up.
I also recommend giving your plants a dose of Neem through the root zone once per week. It will help to increase your plant’s immune system and prevent things like fungus growth, insect damage, and more. When feeding Neem through the root zone simply add 20mL to a gallon, with 5ml of Yucca extract, and soak the top of the soil thoroughly. The Neem and Yucca Extract will travel through your plant’s root zone, up the stem, and into the leaves giving it protection from undesirables.
Is it safe during flowering?
Yes, unlike dangerous pesticides, Neem and Yucca extract are 100% safe to use during flowering. Neem does smell bad so it can cause your finished bud to smell funky. It is not recommended you use Neem within the last 2 weeks of flowering. I personally wouldn’t want to smoke bud sprayed with Neem late in flowering but no scientific proof shows it will do any damage to the human body.
If you use Neem during flowering I recommend you spray your plants with just plain water 48 hours after spraying with Neem to help remove any residue and smell.
What type of Neem do I get?
A number of companies make Neem specifically for plants. Pay attention because many of them only have a small percentage of the active ingredient (Azadirachtin) and use an extracted form. It is not uncommon to have to use three or four times as much and have it still not be as effective as “the right stuff”.
Certain companies do this so they can sell a product that looks “less expensive” than the competition. Many consumers don’t even realize until they use the product and find out it doesn’t work.
When looking for a quality neem product you want to look for two things.
- That it is Cold Pressed Neem, meaning it is 100% Neem and contains no additives like “neem extracts” that most Neem products are made from.
- A Neem product that has a minimum of 3500 PPMs (parts per million) of Azadirachtin, the active ingredient.