The Spider Mite Dilemma

A quick search of Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spider_mite) says that “Spider Mites are members of the Acari (mite) family Tetranychidae, which includes 1200 different species.”  These very tiny mites can live under the leaves of several hundred different species of plants and will most likely cause damage to plants through puncturing the cells of the plant for food.  Once a spider mite has found a host plant, one mature female can hatch over one million eggs in a month!  Due to this rapid reproduction rate, spider mite populations can adapt quickly and become resistant to chemical pesticides, especially if the same pesticide is used over a prolonged period.

How do you tell if you have a spider mite issue in your indoor garden?  Spider mites actually get their name due to a web that some members of the species will spin around their eggs to protect them.  If you notice a web within your indoor garden, this is a likely sign you may have them.

from Wikipedia

Spider Mite Web and Eggs

In the AdvancedLEDLights.com indoor garden, our first sign was plant stress.  Our growing conditions inside the grow tent were as they should be and the plants were not flourishing.  We consulted a trusted friend who owns a local hydroponic store regarding our issue and he immediately recommended checking under the leaves for any sign of spider mites.  During our initial investigation, it was clear that was our issue.

Here are a few key indicators that you too may have a spider mite dilemma:

  • The best indicator would be the presence of webbing on your plants located near the underside of the leaves or along the stems.
  • Red spider mites, which are very common, are usually visible to the human eye or by utilizing a small magnification lens.  These mites favor little red spiders.
  • Other spider mites may be very small, spider-like creatures with or without spots on their back.
  • You may be able to spot little white, pearl-like eggs underneath the leaves and along the stems of the plant.
  • In some cases, especially with serious infestations, you may notice damage to the outer top leaves and/or red or yellow spotting on lower leaves of your plant.

Try running an internet search on “Spider Mite Treatment” and you’ll see a full range of suggested solutions.  There are chemical solutions, organic solutions, predator mites (these are quite pricey!), and many other methods. Our local hydroponic shop first recommended a two step treatment.  First,  we used two cans of ProControl Prescription Treatment fogger in our 4×8 grow tent.  We repeated this process twice: four days after the first treatment and again 7 days after that.  During these three treatments, we immediately noticed a reduction in the spider mites; however, the plants were not thriving as they had before.  Next, we continued to work on our spider mite issue by saturating the plants with a mixture of rubbing alcohol and water every two days.  We were told that this would aid us in getting rid of the spider mites and could be used as a preventative measure in the future.  (When using this mixture as a preventative measure against spider mites, spraying is recommended 1/week).   The total cost for these treatments was in the neighborhood of $350.00. Unfortunately, the plants were not perking back up and were still showing signs that something was not quite right.  Upon closer inspection we saw the small microscopic pearl-like eggs along the stems and underneath the leaves of the plant – we still had spider mites. We again consulted our local hydroponics shop friend and the news was grim.  He confirmed that despite our best efforts, we still were infested with spider mites.  His suggestion? Trash everything in the tent and start again.  In fact, he sincerely recommended that we even consider replacing the entire tent.  He stated that even if we carefully treated the tent, just one spider mite hiding out in a corner of the tent could cause the issue all over again.  Moreover, he had seen this before and had customers spend thousands of dollars attempting to get rid of the spider mites only to later replace everything in their indoor garden.   Due to the cost of replacing the entire tent and it’s contents, we did consult one more friend who is a grower and heard the exact same advice.  So, we heeded their warnings and took down our 4×8 grow tent and all of the plants it contained.

Don’t let this happen to your indoor garden space. Our very own spider mite dilemma has shown us that early detection and prevention is the key in fighting a spider mite infestation.

We will be setting up our new tent and growing in it shortly!  More updates to come.

The Staff of AdvancedLEDLights.com

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