Garden Pests Series: R…

Thoughts and musings

Garden Pests Series: R…

Lewis | May 5, 2015 | 0 Comments

…is for Red Spider Mite.

There has been a last-minute amendment to this issue of the Garden Pests Series; initially, ‘R’ was going to stand for rose black spot. However, after a little more detailed research today, it came to my attention that rose black spot is in fact very similar to what was covered in the last post in this blog series, quince leaf blight. The similarity between the two is that not only are both fungi, but both are caused by conditions that fall under the scientific genus Diplocarpon. Therefore, due to the similarities, the letter ‘R’ will now stand for red spider mite…

Red spider mites, or to use their binomial name Tetranychus urticae, is a pest that has a cosmopolitan distribution, despite having thought to have originated from areas of Europe and Asia. As their name suggests, they are related to arachnids; to make matters worse for arachnophobes and gardeners alike, not only can they be very destructive to your garden, they are known to feed on over 200 different plant species, including fruits and vegetables.

Despite being most likely to be seen in greenhouses, on household plants and outdoor plants during the Summer months, they are very small and are overlooked easily. Therefore, you should look for indications of their presence. For one, finding mottled leaves that are undergoing discolouration to a yellow is a sign that they are feeding on the cells of that particular plant. Also, you can look for silk webbing, much like ordinary spiders spin, which allow them to travel from one plant to another.

More about their name; spiders they are, but they are only red during their inactive periods. When they are more active, they are light green with black spots on their back. Nevertheless, misnomers aside, red spider mites should not be underestimated, as they can ravage your garden and not only stifle, but even reverse your gardening efforts. Therefore, you should know how potential treatment means if your garden falls foul to an infestation. Chemically, products containing natural fatty acids and surfactant-based products are all effective treatments. With all chemical treatments, though, we at Oakleigh Manor implore you to always read the manufacturer’s instructions and to take precautions with regards to your safety and the others around you.

If chemical treatment is not the chosen route for you, there are a number of organic methods. These include the inspecting of plants every week for signs of infestation and the removal of any infested plant matter. You can also combat them creating environments that aren’t favourable to them, i.e. red spider mites prefer dry conditions, so regular watering may help slow the rate of infestation. Finally, Phytosieulus persimilis is a natural predator to the red spider mite, so introducing them may be an option.

Of course, in an ideal world, you would like the presence of red spider mites not to be reality in the first place! Therefore, to aid the prevention of a red spider mite infestation in your greenhouse in the future, remove any plant matter and debris found in cracks and crevices where red spider mites are known to be. Also, you can again take advantage of their preference of dry conditions by dampening the atmosphere in your greenhouse to help increase the humidity.

So there you go! Everything you need to know at a glance about the red spider mite. Have you ever had an infestation of these pests? Let us know and how you dealt with it the comment section below.



Photo credit: <a href=””>Gilles San Martin</a> / <a href=””>Source</a> / <a href=””>CC BY-SA</a>