Spider mites: Fact Check!
Spider mites as the name suggests are small spider-like insects if one sees them under a magnifying glass. They belong to the arachnid family of insects. There are eight legs and an antenna on their body like a spider and lay their eggs on the underside of the plant leaves. They spin their protective silk web there and cut the food supply to the leaves causing damage to the plants. There are about 1200 species of spider mites and all are very dangerous for the plants. These mites are less than 1mm in size and are found in a score of colors. They initially lay transparent small circular eggs protecting them by spinning a silk protective web around the eggs. This saves the eggs from the predators and this spinning activity gives them ‘Spider’ prefix in their name. Hot and dry conditions of about 27 degree Celsius are ideal for the growth of spider mites. They can reproduce up to 20 eggs a day which hatch in about 3 days and become fully mature in 5 days. The average life span of a spider mite is from 2 to 4 weeks. A single female mite can lay million eggs in a month which makes them more adaptive to the pesticides if the same kind is used for a long time. In these spider mites, the females are diploids and male are haploids. Fertilized eggs result in females and unmated eggs result in males.
Spider mites: Protection!
Protecting large scale plantations from spider mites generally, include pesticide spray. They can be detected by observing thin webbings on the leaves of the plants. One can see tiny red, brown or green dots moving on the leaves under a magnifying glass which confirms their presence. For preventing the kitchen gardening or small number of plants one can use a variety of natural methods as follows:
- Introducing natural predators of the mites like ladybugs, lacewings and predator mites etc. can prove to be an effective solution to check the growth of spider mites. Considering the fact that the person doesn’t mind these insects hanging on one’s plantation.
- Providing wet and humid conditions for the predators of the mites can help in two ways, one by encouraging the growth of predator mites and other by naturally providing immunity to the leaves as spider mites prefer dry and arid conditions.
- A strong water spray to the leaves of the plants can also prove very advantageous against the spider mites. The water can flow the eggs laid beneath the leaves of the plants with it thus naturally preventing their growth.
Other than the natural methods, a more vigorous infection of spider mites to the plantation can be cured by using pesticides. Insectical soap, Bonide Hot Pepper wax, dormant oil etc are some of the chemical substances used against spider mites. Sulfur powder can also be used to protect the plants from the mites.
Regularly spraying plants with water and checking underneath the leaves for spider mites is always recommended to preclude the attack of spider mites.