I’m growing my first indoor crop and I think I have spider mites. In fact, I know I do. First, I found little white dots on the tops of the leaves, then the whole leaf started to yellow and die! I looked on the underneath of a leaf and saw a bunch of little black dots running around. My flowers are starting to develop webs all over them! I’m at my wit’s end. What can I do?
– Bugging Out in Boise
You’re problem has gotten worse than it ever should have due to your inaction early on. Mites must be dealt with immediately upon discovery with an aggressive program of pest control. They multiply so quickly that you’ll find a many-pronged approach most effective in beating back these costly and annoying pests. With a lifespan as short as 7-10 days, it’s not long before you have generations of mites setting up shop and sucking the lifeblood right out of your precious pot plants.
Always check the undersides of your fan leaves as a preventative daily precaution. Don’t forget that one plant in the back corner of the room that might be extra tough to reach. Infestations usually begin in unnoticed places so make sure to make the effort to check all plants often and all of their surroundings, especially the surface of the growing medium.
During the vegetative or the beginning stages of flowering, if you see the early signs of spidermites – yellow or white dots on the leaf tops and tiny black moving dots underneath – immediately begin your war with the pesky pests. Use a Neem oil based spray and mist your plants liberally on the tops and bottoms of the leaves as well as the stalks and soil surface.
If plants are still young and manageable enough, it’s a great idea to give them a full dunking in a diluted neem oil bath. Other useful organic homemade spray mixes include hot peppers, orange oil and crushed garlic bulbs. Type “organic pest control” into a search engine to find various recipes online. Check the labels on any store bought sprays for ingredients and additives that can be harmful for edible plants.
If you’re more than a couple of weeks into the flowering stage, you need to be more cautious about rampant spraying to avoid causing damage or molds to forming buds. You can carefully spray the fan leaves to get rid of many of your new colonists, but you should probably employ some kind of beneficial insects such as ladybugs or predatory mites (both can be ordered online or purchased at indoor grow supply shops).