Organic Controls for Garden Pests
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Red Spider Mite

Although the glasshouse spider mite is known as "Red Spider Mites" they are actually better named "Two Spotted Mites". When active they are pale greeny-brown in colour and can be recognised by the two 2 dark dots on their backs - they are only red in winter. Spider Mites are less than 1mm in size and difficult to see without a lens or microscope unless you have very sharp eyes. They often live underneath leaves, and are only active when it is warm. In winter they hibernate either as eggs, or inactive newborns which you can often spot as tiny red or orange shiny dots.

There are other species of spider mite to be aware of such as the citrus spider mite and other Panonychus species which may require different treatments.

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Identifying Spider Mite

These tiny, highly destructive pests are common in greenhouses and on house plants and can also be found on outdoor plants during the warmer summer months. In the greenhouse look out for them on citrus, tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, vines, carnations and chrysanthemums. Outdoors, you may find them on day lilies, gladioli, conifers and many tender plants .

Spider mites can be spotted more easily by looking for the damage than looking for the culprits. They pierce the leaf cells with their mouthparts and suck the plant juices resulting in discolouration of the leaves and sickly looking growth, and in worst cases the death of the plant. The leaf damage initially results in a fine speckling effect on leaves where the cells have died. The pattern of the mottling varies from plant to plant, so on strawberries you will see brown spots on the underside, and in citrus these develop into yellow patches throughout the leaf. On some plants with tougher leaves the spider mite eats young growth and flower buds and may be even more difficult to spot.

In the early summer it is a good idea to inspect vulnerable plants every week and deal with the first signs of mite infestation immediately. Where possible, remove infested leaves, buds and stems because this will initially reduce numbers. If there is any part of the plant which is covered in cobwebs then regrettably it will need to be sacrificed as it will not recover. Spider mites prefer dry environments, so spraying the infested areas of a plant with water and damping the greenhouse floor areas will raise the humidity and hopefully slow the infestation rate.

When the infestation becomes advanced, fine webbing appears on new growth. Spider mites are arachnids (spiders) and can spin very extensive fine webs. The webbing acts to shield the colony like a blanket, and it also provides a series of ladders or netting which allow the mites to crawl from stem to stem. Where webbing is widespread the leaves will typically turn brown and drop off because of the extent of the cell damage.

The Number One Spider Mite Killer - Phytoseiulus

Phytoseiulus persimilis mites are supplied in plastic tubes with vermiculite granules. As a rough guide the small tube will do a few plants or one hotspot, and a larger tube should be used for a bigger area. Phytoseiulus is very good at treating the most common two spot glasshouse spider mite (Tetranychus spp.) but it doesn't work the same way for less common Panonychus Spp. such as the citrus spider mite. If you're having trouble identifying the spider mite you have then please use the contact us page to get in touch.
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Tube of 2000 Phytoseiulus
22.95 inc P&P

The Number Two Spider Mite Killer - Amblysieus

Amblyseius Andersoni is useful as as a preventative measure in March or April when you can't yet see any spider mite - or later in the year for small outbreaks. They can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, but need at least a little humidity. You can buy them in a large tub, but this year we have introduced economical slow-release gemini sachets which you can place among your plants to provide spider mite protection throughout the year. Amblyseius Andersoni is effective on all types of Spider Mite species including Tetranychus spp. and Panonychus spp.
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10 Gemini Sachets
12.95 inc P&P

50 Gemini Sachets
34.95 inc P&P

Tube of 25,000 mites
109.95 inc P&P