Unfortunately you sometimes get uninvited guests to your marijuana growing party like spider mites. These uninvited little buggers aren't just annoying, they can completely ruin your cannabis fiesta by killing off your crop.
Let's get to know these critters a bit better so you can hopefully prevent them from ever showing up. Spider mites are a disaster wrapped up in a tiny (they're a mere 1/50th inch) package with eight legs. They're not actually considered an insect, instead, they're considered arachnids like spiders and they're related to ticks and mites. They're oval bodies can be green, yellowish orange. The two-spotted spider mite will have, obviously, two dark spots on it's back. It's body is slightly transparent. They get the name "spider mite" from the web that they spin on your plants.Spider mites have ninja-like qualities as they creep up on you unnoticed until suddenly you see thousands devouring your plant.
This appearing act is no magic trick either. Their "magic" trick is their life cycle that allows them to reproduce at a bunny-high rate to quickly populate and dominate plants.In just 3 days spider mite eggs hatch. Only 5 days later they have already reached sexual maturity and they are reproducing fast. Millions of eggs are laid within a month and this cycle continues and worsens unless you step in to take control.
Females lay their eggs on the underside of leaves. When the eggs hatch it becomes a larva. These larvae have round bodies and at that point only have 3 pairs of legs. After feeding for a couple days they find a good spot to molt into the first nymphal stage. At this stage of their life they say no to a drivers license but celebrate with a fourth pair of legs.After feeding for another couple of days, they go and molt into the second nymph. Then lastly, after feeding again and resting, they molt into the adult stage. After reaching this stage they can live 2 to 4 more weeks.Because of their life cycles, it's easy to believe that you killed off all the adult spider mites and fixed your infestation. However, the unmatured spider mites might still be feeding on your cannabis plant awaiting their next stage of life.
This is what makes them so annoying.The life source of the spider mite that drives it to attack your marijuana plant is the chlorophyll. That's the substance that plants need for photosynthesis. Spider mites use their sharp slender mouthparts to pierce your plant's outer layer. When all these mites are attacking a leaf it causes a localized collapse of it's mesophyll tissue. Only hours after this happening, the leaf or affected area will develop chlorotic spots causing in loss in productivity.
Although spider mites can be found in any growing setup, they are most common in soil due to the dead organic matter. Your best setup against spider mites is a hydroponic system.To be successful in eradicating a spider mite infestation, you need to catch the problem early on. They can be difficult to notice at first because they're so small and it may not be until your plants are covered in webs that you notice what's happening.
Do routine leaf inspections, especially on the underside of the leaf. When they start making colonies you will see fine "spider webs" between your precious leaves.Look for small specks, sometimes yellow or white, on the leaves; these are the bite marks of the mite. If the infestation is bad then the entire plant will appear sickly and discolored.It will be worth it for you to take all necessary precautions to avoid spider mites altogether.
If you are going to bring new plants into your grow area then quarantine them for at least 2 weeks. Check them regularly, a handheld microscope comes in handy here.Keep your grow area clean; never have old leaves laying around. let me repeat -keep it clean!
It's good to have fresh air circulating, but if the air is coming from outside then you should use a filter to keep bugs out. Your room temperature also plays a part. Mites like it toasty warm, so keep your room on the cooler side.
Organic compost mulch provides beneficial mites that eat spider mites. Ladybugs also eat spider mites. You can buy them if you already have an infestation, but they're useless in terms of prevention.
There are some treatment options available if you need to go into battle with these mites. One fun thing to do is to vacuum those suckers right off the plant. Put the used vacuum bag in your freezer to kill them, then toss them out with the garbage.You can also spray a mix of water and alcohol (rubbing alcohol, duh!) onto the plants. Use at least 40% water in the mix. A mix of 1 tablespoon bleach in a gallon of water sprayed onto the affected areas also work.Do one of these methods for a few days, and switch to another method if you had a bad infestation. Even when you think you've killed them all off, do it again a few times to kill the ones that may have just hatched, yes you really need to get medieval on their asses!Spider mites are a nightmare, but if you take the necessary precautions and check regularly you can save your plants and enjoy the crop you work so hard for...
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