Introduction to Mites
Although mites differ from insects in several ways, their damage to ornamental plants resembles that of thrips and lace bugs.
Most mites have eight legs as adults (adult insects usually have six).
Mites do not have wings (some adult insects have wings) but can be aerially dispersed by breezes and winds more or less like aerial plankton, particularly in hot, dry weather.
It is thought the mouthparts (chelae) of mites evolved from legs with a prehensile joint, (the digitus mobilus) which allows the mite to chew with a vertical, scissors like action.
In spider mites, broad mites, and cyclamen mites, the chelae have evolved into sharp mouthparts that mites use to pierce the surface of the plants they feed on in order to suck out the contents of the plant cells.
Mites evidently inject saliva as they feed for one of the first symptoms of broad mite and cyclamen mite feeding is failure of the host plant to blossom.
Infested plants then exhibit a variety of plant growth regulator symptoms including twisted and distorted growth, and shortened internodes and petioles.
Twospotted Spider Mite
The eight-legged adult can be pale green, greenish amber, or yellowish. Usually having two (sometimes four) black spots on top, the twospotted spider mite is about 0.4 mm long.
The spherical egg ranges from transparent and colorless to opaque straw yellow.
The six-legged larva is colorless, pale green, or yellow.
Similar to the adult except in size, the nymph has eight legs and is pale green to brownish green. Large black spots may develop on each side.
Twospotted spider mites are widely distributed in the United States. Reports have shown the Piedmont and Coastal Plain regions of the Southeast to be the most heavily infested areas.
Twospotted spider mites have been reported on over 300 host plants, that include over 100 cultivated species...
Twospotted spider mites pierce the epidermis of the host plant leaf with their sharp, slender mouthparts.
When they extract the sap, the mesophyll tissue of the leaf collapses in the area of the puncture.
Soon a chlorotic spot forms at each feeding site. After a heavy attack, an entire plant may become yellowed, bronzed, or killed completely.
The mites may completely web over entire plants.
...Though insects and mites are in a group called the Arthropoda (meaning jointed foot) because jointed legs are common to both, spider mites are not actually insects. They are more closely related to spiders, and they derive their name from the thin web which some species spin.
From the eggs hatch six-legged larvae.
They develop into eight-legged nymphs which pass through two nymphal stages.
After each larval and nymphal stage, there is a resting stage.
The adults mate soon after emerging from the last resting stage, and in warm weather the females soon lay eggs.
Each female may lay over 100 eggs in her life and up to 19 eggs per day.
Development is rapid in hot, dry weather.
Each generation may take as many as 20 or as few as 5 days to mature.
They often damage one species of plant quite heavily and then disperse to other hosts.
When a plant is heavily damaged, the mites migrate to the outer periphery of the plant.
From here, even the gentlest of breezes can carry them a significant distance to attack new hosts.
The following is Regarding:
"predatory spider mites Phytoseiulus persimillis" and "pyrethrum" based products
"Chimera's Journal on Spider Mites"
"Phytoseiulus persimillis is a voracious mite that feeds on the evil mites, but won't eat your plants.
When they've eaten all the mites they can find, they run out of food and die.
If you choose to go this route, use one of the chemical sprays mentioned below (to knock down the spotted mite population), but discontinue it's use a week before introducing the predators; which are themselves susceptible to the chemical sprays.
*Studies have shown that mites were able to elude the persimillis by hiding in various nooks and crannies around the garden, only to return to and take over again when all the predators had died.
IF you do use predators, a time-release is recommended... add another dose to your plants each week for a month just to make sure you've got some fresh predators to hunt down any re-occurring mites that have been missed.
The predator mites will eat all life stages of evil mite, from egg to adult. Adding predators can get expensive; only the truly organic tend to use this route.
Check online to find a cheap source of predators; a Google search for "predatory spider mites Phytoseiulus persimillis" should yield numerous places to purchase. "
He further goes on to state;
"I've had great results using the 'softer' pyrethrum based products. Pyrethrum is a natural miticide produced by flowers in the chrysanthemum family, it works against all the different mite populations.
Repeated treatment is key; most of the sprays are unable to penetrate to the eggs; so you need to re-apply the spray to take care of the hatched eggs before they have a chance to lay more eggs themselves. "
"Get yourself a quality pressure sprayer (a separate container and a wand type are the best) at home depot or Canadian Tire etc. The wand allows you to easily get under the leaves where the mites spend most of their time sucking the juices from your babies.
I highly recommend two product by 'Safers': EndAll and Trounce.
The active ingredient in both is pyrethrum, but Endall is based on canola oil, Trounce is based on soap and alcohol. Get the Endall and Trounce concentrate bottles, mix your own spray from these at home... it's much cheaper, and you will be able to use your own sprayer.
Note: Safer's insecticidal soap is pretty much the same as Trounce. Trounce contains alcohol and pyrethrum as well, which will further help kill the bugs."
"Spraying daily with water is really hinders the spotted mite's reproduction."
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