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Eco Friendly ways to get rid of Spider Mites Naturally
By Karl Schultz, Austin, TX
Here are some eco friendly ways to get rid of spider mites on your plants.
Spider mites are tiny, spider looking bugs but with 8 legs and no antennae that lay eggs on the undersides of leaves. There are several species of them but most are harmful to your plants.
Leaves eaten by spider mites will loose their color and yellow specs will appear, sometimes turn brown and wilt and the underside of the leaf may be covered with a fine weblike material.
Infestations of spider mites often occur in the hot summer and attack fruit trees, tomatoes, strawberries, roses, rosemary and other house plants.
The Eco Friendly approach to getting rid of spider mites : Monitor your plants often for signs of mites. Look under the leaves. One way of detecting them is to take a piece of paper and thumping the leaves against it to see if any fell off onto the paper.
For a beginning infestation of spider mites, spray water upwards from beneath toward the undersides of the leaves at high pressure. Use ladybugs (available now at many garden stores) since ladybugs LOVE spider mites. Other beneficial insects include lacewings and predatory mites. Don't use broad spectrum pesticides since they will kill your beneficial insects as well.
The best way to get rid of spider mites naturally is to use the above methods to control infestations before they get out of hand. If you must use a pesticide you should use a more eco friendly brand such as Safer Insecticidal Soap, Safer BioNeem, Bonide Hot Pepper Wax and Concern Pesticidal Spray Oil.
Read the label before use since all natural spider mite treatments are mildly toxic to humans, bees, fish, etc.
Apply them only to infected plants since they will kill your beneficial insects. Use only for the plants specified on the label, some may injure new growth.
Mix according to the directions. Avoid over use, even of eco friendly pesticides and keep pets away from plants for at least 48 hours since even mild soap based spider mite remedies can make them sick if they lick the leaves.
Sources, Texas A & M Extension service, http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/
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