In any type of gardening or cultivation technique, you’ll definitely encounter real-time ‘enemies’ like pests. These creatures will truly test your planting skills and challenge you throughout the process.
Despite their small size, they profoundly are capable of causing a lot of damage to your plants. They’ll suck through the plant’s nutrients and even live around it. That is why they should be eliminated quickly when readily detected.
One of the most common agricultural pests is spider mites. They are tiny yet destructive creatures when it attacks. They live often in colonies with short-duration infestation ability.
A particular favorite plant of this pest is cannabis. Even if your growing indoors, these pests will find its way to get through your cannabis seeds. That is why it’s important to be knowledgeable in making defense and combatting spider mites.
What are Spider Mites?
Also known as web-spinning mites, these small creatures are members of the arachnid class. Nonetheless, they are a close relative of spiders and ticks. This creature has about more than 1200 species including families like Bryobini, Petrobinii, Tetrachyni, and Tenuipalpoidini.
These tiny creatures usually live on the underside of the leaves spinning silk webs around it. They feed on the cell contents from the leaves and suck around its foliage. The spider mites are known to feed a hundred different plant species including tomatoes, watermelons, sugar peas, and even cannabis.
Identification of Spider Mites
Spiders mites are often taken note as a false insect for their small size. They appear for most people as insect yet they belong to families of spider referred to as arachnids.
They are often denoted as reddish, black, or yellowish-orange in color depending on their type. These creatures are very small measuring about 1 millimeter (0.04 inches). Both male and female include two dark recognizable spots. Also, they are mostly described for their webbing underside and over the plant’s leaves.
However, there is always root for every spread or attack. We have to control or mitigate its population before it will increase in number. The important key on removing this spider mites is by eliminating the eggs and larvae that are slowly forming.
Nevertheless, you could not do this if you won’t be able to identify its physical appearance. Here are the things that you should know.
For the Egg Stage
They appear to be small, circular, and colorless white. They most often adhere to the webbings of the plant. They could also locate on the underside of the leaves and rarely decorated on the stems or twigs.
For the Larvae Stage
At least three days since its conception, the eggs will hatch. The larvae of a typical spider mite are still colorless white with just two noticeable dark red spots on its front position. These spots indicate its eyes. Also, you’ll be able to observe six undeveloped legs being form.
At this point, it will start feeding until the color of its body turns light to dark green respectively.
For the Nymph Stage
The nymph stage is classified into either the(1) protonymph and the (2) deutonymph.
The protonymph is the inactive stage of the spider mites. They often laid into rest and dormant, does not feed or even move. As compared to an egg, it’s evident to this stage the already shaped red eyes and legs. Also, it has a colorless white outer shell.
The deutonymph is the active nymph stage. At this point, the nymph has fully developed body parts, green, black, or red colored respectively. It has very visible red eyes and six legs. Though, the only difference is that they can’t lay eggs for which the adult possesses.
The process from egg to adult stage could take as little as 5 days. A typical spider mite lives for at least two to four weeks. This amount of time is already sufficient to cause a lot of damage to your plants.
Spider mites love to live in hot and very dry conditions. They tend to reach high numbers at temperatures greater than 90F. The optimum ambient temperature that you should maintain to prevent forming of spider mites is about 20C to 25C. Also, make sure that you’ll be able to improve your ventilation. Spider mites abhor living in windy areas.
Signs of Spider Mite Infestation on Cannabis Plants
The most evident sign of an infestation is probably the webbing or its mere presence on the plants. However, as tiny as these creatures are, you couldn’t readily identify immediately them. That is why its also important to identify physical indications of infestation on the cannabis plants.
Since these pests feed on plant tissues, you’ll be able to point out slowly lightening of leaves turning to yellow. Spots or speckles often either white, red, or orange scattered around the leaves is the first manifestation of its attack.
As it continues assuming that you’ll not do anything about it, the leaves will turn yellow indicating nutrient deficiency. It will then continue to web out to the leaves and worst, into the buds or flowers. At this stage, plant cells and tissues are deteriorating with some of it is dying.
Later on, if it still goes, the plant will suffer, wither, and could die as avoided.
Sources of Spider Mite Attack
In the prevention of spider mites, it’s vital that you’ll be able to understand where these creatures are coming from. While outdoor cultivation is highly susceptible to attack, there are times that it could happen indoors as well.
There are three major carriers of these spider mites.
- From another vegetable garden or plant
- Through humans, animals, or pets
- Through air or open exposure
Nevertheless, it’s important that as much as possible you have to maintain a very close environment when growing cannabis. Unless you have to do prepare for any preventive measures as related to it.
How to Prevent the Occurrence of Spider Mites?
Basically, the best way to prevent spider mites is through regular monitoring, cleaning, and maintenance. You have to monitor ventilation and temperature levels on the environment. Likewise, you’ll have to be observant on plant’s growth, leaf color, and overall condition.
Apart from that, here are some preventive tips that could be followed.
You have to know which strains are disease resistant or not.
It’s best to choose strains that are highly flexible and resist easily to pest attacks. Strains like Master Kush, Blueberry, and Mango Kush are just a few of strains recommended for cultivation.
However, it’s important to know that these strains won’t still be a target for spider mites. They’re disease resistant but still could be live by spider mites if you won’t be extra cautious on things.
Try growing companion plants along with cannabis
If you have a large space, then this could be helpful to prevent spider mites from attacking. As spider mites hate the smell of these plants, they tend to repel and live far away as much as possible.
Thus, this could be effective in ensuring that your plants will not be attacked by spider mites.
Companion plants to prevent spider mites include Chinese parsley, chrysanthemum, garlic, onion, and leeks.
Import Beneficial Insects to your garden
You could also bring predators of these mites toward your garden. However, it’s not highly suggested doing this method.
Few insect predators that you could introduce includes black beetles (which eats eggs and larvae), minute pirate bugs, and predatory thrips.
Regular water intake
Not just temperature and ventilation, it’s important to regularly water your plants. In such way, the soil won’t get dried out which could lure spider mites from occupying into your plants.
As we’ve known, spider mites love the hot and dry environment. Its best to at least moist the soil as much as possible.
Treatment on Spider Mite Attacks
Methods of killing spider mites vary according to the degree of infestation. Nevertheless, here are the most suitable options to cure these attacks.
- Pruning and Trimming
If it only spreads at few and minor areas, you could just easily cut down the affected part and resumed planting. After then, just carefully observe for a few days and at the same time, water the plants regularly.
- Apply Organic Insecticides
If severely infected, you could treat it by spraying organic insecticides. There are available organic insecticides that you could buy in the market to choose from. You’ll just have to ask the seller what are your options on it.
But nonetheless, it’s important to emphasize to not use inorganic or chemical-based pesticides. They are quite dangerous most especially that you are planning to smoke the buds.
- Put Essential and Horticultural Oils
Essential oils mixed with water is the safest route to treat spider mite infestations. Examples of these oils include neem, eucalyptus, cinnamon, lemon, peppermint, and rosemary.
These oils are said to annihilate spider mites and could kill spider mites upon regular treatment.
An enemy, as they say, spider mites will not inhabit into your cannabis plants if you allow it. This means that you have to ensure that all basic parameters on temperature, lighting, ventilation, nutrient, and water outputs are being met. Otherwise, there’s a big possibility that ‘enemies’ such as spider mites will disturb and will bring your solemn cannabis planting to destruction. Happy planting!