If you grow your own marijuana, either for personal use, medicinal use or otherwise, you know how tricky it can be to keep spider mites off of your plants. In the cannabis industry, even the smallest pest problem can mean a huge interruption to your yield.
Read on for these top tips on killing spider mites without killing your yield!
But first, what is a spider mite?
A spider mite is a tiny insect related to spiders, ticks and other mites. They build their homes on the underside of the leaves of plants. Many species spin webs for protection, which is where the “spider” in their name comes from. Spider mites live in hot climates that are consistent with growing weed and reproduce quickly; it can be difficult to control how fast they multiply under these conditions.
The first sign of a spider mite are tiny bite marks on the leaves of the cannabis plant, often found on the underside of the leaves. Since the mites are so small, it is unlikely that you will see the mites before you see their tiny bites, unless you are looking for them.
What is my first line of defense?
Since spider mites reproduce so quickly, destroying their populations before they explode is key. Carefully examine the undersides of your cannabis leaves for tiny eggs and webbing, destroying any eggs before they have the chance to hatch.
You can also examine where the infestation may be coming from. They could be coming from: a nearby vegetable crop, tracked in from other animals/pets or from another marijuana plant. Once you have identified where they may have come from, you can better defend your plants. If they were tracked inside from another animal or plant, regular elimination strategies should work fine. If they were infested by one of your clones you may have a more serious problem; spider mites that have grown especially adept at living on marijuana plants could be harder to get rid of.
To Eliminate Spider Mites:
Keep a constant breeze blowing over your plants.
Spider mites hate moving air, preferring an environment that is not only hot but also has a stagnant airflow. To do this, set up a fan that you can keep on the plants at all times to keep them from settling under your leaves. By keeping continuous airflow you will both improve air circulation and plant growth while keeping the tiny insects from making themselves comfortable homes under your plants.
Use an insecticide or product to treat infestations.
There are plenty of insecticides to kill spider mites out there. Which one you choose depends greatly on your budget, how serious your spider mite infestation is and how many chemicals you want to use on your crops.
AzaMax is one of the most trusted products to get rid of spider mites. AzaMax is strong, effective and can also be used in the water you water your plants with as it will not hurt your roots but will destroy spider mites in your soil. Mighty Wash is another effective product used in the same way.
Spinosad is a natural substance made from soil bacterium. It is a mixture of two chemicals called spinosyn A and spinosyn D and can naturally control your spider mite problem. Spinosad is used in many organic insecticide products because it is completely harmless to humans and pets as well as being effective whether sprayed directly on leaves or in plant roots.
Another organic option is Essentria IC3, a mixture of horticultural oils that is safe and organic for use. So safe and organic, in fact, that they are often recommended for bed bug treatment.
In comparison to Mighty Wash and AzaMax, organic solutions have few, if any, negative effects.
Tips for treating plants with insecticide:
- Set up a fan once you have sprayed your plants with insecticide to dry the product onto the leaves faster
- Remember to spray the underside of the cannabis plant leaves, where most spider mites reside
- Read up on the specific directions for insecticide application; it varies per product whether you spray right before you turn your plant’s lights out for the night
- You will want a one-hand pressure sprayer or something similar for even distribution of the insecticides onto your plants
- Treat your plants more than once, even if you believe your mite problem has disappeared, to fully ward off potential mite regeneration
Use multiple kinds of treatments for the mites that stick around.
Some mites may become resistant to your treatments or were never killed off by them in the first place. If this happens to your plants, try switching up your treatments with another variety and always use a combination of a few techniques at eliminating the mites.
NOTE: While there are some particularly strong chemicals used for treating mites, these can be damaging to plants. Other growers also suggest treating an entire crop for mites. This can be dangerous to breath in so proper ventilation and only treating this way in the most extreme circumstances is important.
There you have the easiest and most effective ways to remove spider mite problems on your cannabis plants. Don’t let spider mites kill your buzz and your yield; adopt a multi-tiered approach to keeping bugs off for good, grow after grow.