Spider mites are a bane of growers everywhere, quickly turning a promising cannabis crop into one of ruin. Fortunately, as long as you catch an infestation early enough, spider mites can be dealt with easily.
You visit your grow, only to find that it is covered in cobwebs and thousands of mites, and despair sinks into your heart. It is a nightmare cannabis cultivators across the globe hope never becomes a reality. Spider mites. These little pests have a way of quickly turning a healthy cannabis plant into one on its death bed. However, all is not lost, and a grower with the right knowledge has a good chance of fighting off these parasites, giving their cannabis a chance to recover.
The first thing is to be able to properly recognise spider mites. This will allow the grower to keep an eye out for them, potentially catching them before they become a full blown infestation. Spider mites are usually 0.2-0.5 mm in length, pear shaped, eight legged, and yellow green, brown or red in colour. They love dry, warm conditions, and will often target already weakened plants.
Recognising spider mites becomes incredibly easy when it reaches the point of infestation. Spider mites will spin a protective web over the plant, making it look like spiders may be present. However, whilst some spiders can actually help protect your plant by eating harmful insects, spider mites do no such favour. A spider mite web will often be covered in hundreds, if not thousands of the little buggers, helping you easily rule out whether you have a resident spider, or spider mite infestation.
The best way to avoid spider mites is to ensure they are never an issue in the first place. This can be luck of the draw when growing outdoors, and you will just have to keep your eagle eyes out, but indoors there are a few steps you can take. The first is to keep a sterile and tidy grow environment. This can help you identify problems, and minimise risk. The second is to never bring anything into the grow environment form outdoors – especially soil. Soil and other vegetation can act as carriers for pests.
(If you grow outdoors, you can skip this step and proceed to step 2. There is little you can do to cleanse an outdoor setting apart from focus on the plants themselves.)
If you are growing indoors, then we are sad to say, you are in for a lot of work. But it is doable. The first thing you need to do is move everything out of the grow environment - plants and furniture included. You then need to wash the area, floors, walls and ceiling, with soapy water, and bleach where it is safe to do so. You then need to do the same for all of your equipment, obviously talking care with electrical goods – do not submerge electrical equipment in water, simply wipe down the surfaces where safe to do so. Taking these steps should cleanse you growing environment of spider mites, the next thing to do is focus on the plants.
Next comes removing the mites from your cannabis. This should be performed outside of the recently cleansed growing environment when growing in an indoor setting.
The first action is to spray down the plant with something that will kill the mites. You do not want to use a general pesticide. Firstly, this could kill any beneficial insects, and secondly, spider mites are resistant to a lot of pesticides.
The best sprays are either neem oil, or a miteicide. The first is both natural and effective, but less harmful to other life, such as bees, when used in sensible quantities. A miteicide, as the name suggests, is a targeted pesticide that is very effective against mites. Note: that whilst both of these could affect the overall quality of your finished harvest, using them will at least give you a chance of actually having one.
The second measure you can take, especially when growing outdoors, is to introduce natural predators of the spider mite to your plants. These include:
These predators will often hang around and ensure the job gets done, as well as defend against future infection. Depending on where you live, it is also possible to buy some of them, like ladybirds, online in large quantities. This can ensure complete coverage of a garden. Sure some will fly off, but a lot will also feast.
If you are growing indoors, make sure you are confident that the infestation has been dealt with before taking your cannabis back to your growing environment.
There you go! Actually dealing with this parasite is pretty easy when you know how. You just need to be prepared to put the work in. And remember, the best solution is prevention. Keep your eyes peeled, and deal with any potential problems before they get out of hand.