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Red Spider Mite

(Tetranychus urticae)

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


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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.
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Tube of 2000 Phytoseiulus
23 inc P&P

The Number Two SpiderMite Killer - Amblysieus

Amblyseius californicus 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. You can buy them in a large tub, but this year we have introduced economical slow-release sachets which you can hang on your plants to provide spider mite protection early in the season.
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Shaker Tub - 2000 mites
55.00

10 sachets - 1000 mites per sachet
12.95 *long-lasting*

The Flying Killer - a Predatory Midge

Feltiella acarisuga These are native midges which target red spider mite, laying their eggs among their colonies. When the eggs hatch then the worm-like larvae will eat the eggs, young and adults. Their common name is sometimes given as "Predatory Gall Midge" - it is easier to pronounce, but not very accurate as it covers more than one midge, and they don't make galls!. If you can introduce them to suitable conditions early in the season then one pack will be sufficient to breed and establish themselves for all-year protection of your glasshouse or polytunnel.
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250 cocoons
95