Spider (Mites) What?

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Spider (Mites) What?

One of the greatest enjoyments of maintaining a landscape or garden is observing and learning about the fascinating insects and pests that live and feed on plants. One particular pest that has recently joined the rose bush at the Pamlico County Extension office is the Twospotted Spider Mite. Not an insect but an arachnid, spider mites can be distinguished from other insects by their two main body parts and eight legs.

Spider mites are also spider mitevery tiny and difficult to see with the naked eye. Mites are rarely noticed until their feeding on the underside of the leaf, causes small yellow spots on the leaf (Leaf Stippling) surface to appear. Spider mites may also develop webbing on the underside of leaves. These symptoms were the first indication of infestation that we observed at the Extension office.

RoseWithout magnification, a helpful test requires the utilization of a white sheet of paper. Hold the paper under the suspected branch or leaf and shake the plant vigorously. Some dark colored spider mites may fall off and quickly scurry across the white sheet of paper. However, immature mites are often very tiny and pale in color and are not easily seen. For this reason, spider mites may go unnoticed until a significant population develops.

Control of spider mites can be somewhat challenging. Many of the insecticides available at garden centers are not that effective at controlling spider mites. A true miticide would provide better control but many of these products are expensive and some may have restrictions limiting their use by homeowners. Horticultural oil and Insecticidal soap are effective options for homeowners but require thorough coverage and repeat applications. Pay close attention to the label of these products. The LABEL IS THE LAW and you are responsible for following the directions. These products may also have restrictions on what plants they can be applied to and under what various climate conditions they should not be used (hot and dry may not favor an application of horticultural oil). Some homeowners may be tempted to concoct a home remedy. Sadly, many of these attempts often fail to provide the same level of control as commercially available products and some may also harm plants.

roses stipplingAnother interesting and important point to make, is the availability of the systemic insecticide “Imidacloprid”. This insecticide can be found in numerous stores and products and is promoted for providing extended control of various insects. However, spider mites are typically not listed on the label and some research studies have shown that “Imidacloprid” can increase egg laying and survival rates of Twospotted Spider Mites. This is an important fact to remember as many rose products contain this insecticide. Although is has its place, spider mite control is not one of them.

For more information related to Twospotted Spider Mites, visit the NC State Extension note at this address: https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/O&T/flowers/note25/note25.html.

You can also contact the Pamlico County Extension office at (252)-745-4121 or email Daniel Simpson (Agriculture Extension Agent) at Daniel_simpson@ncsu.edu.