Phrightening – Spider Mites

Halloween! A perfect day to re-post a “how-to” on identifying and eradicating those horrifying SPIDER MITES from our plants. It’s also a timely post considering many of us bring outdoor plants inside at this time of year. Unfortunately, there are often some unwelcome “stowaways” hiding amid the leaves and foliage.

Spider Mites, they are a pest I hate to see indoors or out. They are microscopic in size, and usually, they have caused quite a bit of damage before you are even aware they are on your house or garden plants. Here is some good information on what a spider mite can do to your foliage. Spider Mites

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This week I noticed some yellowing leaves on my Mandevilla Vine. Because I have had problems with spider mites in this area of the basement in the past, they were tops on my list of possible pests. Instead of peering at each stem individually, I used my quick and easy solution. I sprayed the entire plant with a mister. Sure enough, the webbing the spider mites leave behind on the leaves caught the droplets of water and glowed in the sunlight. Since I want to keep all my pest control organic, I have found that the best approach to controlling spider mites is to spray the plant with water every day. This keeps the spider mites under control until it is warm enough for me to take the plant outside and really douse it with a hard spray of the hose. Daily sprays of the hose for a week or two will obliterate the spider mite colony. This technique also works on aphids. The only other solution is to spray with dangerous chemicals or toss the plant in the garbage heap.

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Spraying the infected plant with water will allow you to see how badly infested your plant has become. It is a good idea to spray all your houseplants to see if there are any errant mites on surrounding greenery.

Problem-Solving – Saving Outdoor Seedlings

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At first glance this photograph resembles goldfish swimming in a large school. In reality what you are seeing is a layer of hot peppers, covered with oil, simmering OUTSIDE ON THE PORCH in a crockpot. Only adults wearing protection on their hands, and possibly a mask over their mouth and nose, should concoct this brew. After a few hours simmering, I strain out the peppers and keep the resulting oil in a jar. The oil itself did not cause me any distress when I gingerly sniffed it, but when I cleaned the crockpot in water, the steam from the hot water rinse made me gasp a bit as it was loaded with hot pepper particles.

I have been using this on the edges of pots of sunflowers that I am growing outdoors until time to plant in the ground. Every year most of my sunflowers and many other seedlings are nipped off by squirrels, rabbits and chipmunks. To combat this in the past I have tried chili powder sprinkled around my plants, but as soon as rain or heavy dew falls, “Nip, Nibble, Nip,” and all my careful plantings are ruined. There is no cruelty to the animals in using this oil. Their noses are so ultra-sensitive they should be able to smell the heat at least a yard away. I do have to make sure I explain to my grandsons why they must not touch or even walk near the pots. The smallest drop on a fingertip could seriously irritate their eyes.

This method of pest control is organic. Take precautions in using and it should help in repelling rodent and other pests.

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Problem Solving – Critter Wars Part III

First of all, there was not supposed to be a “Part III” in my Critter Wars post. Sadly, I found more critters, not the outdoor type this time, these are indoor pests.

I have had really good luck growing herbs from seed indoors under lights in my basement. I have been pleased with the success for many reasons, I know they are organically grown, I can grow hundreds for the price of just one in the grocery store, and I can grow a large variety to use in my cooking and crafts.

After the last few days of warring with the outdoor insects and animals, the last thing I wanted to find was a colony of Aphids on my indoor plants.

I found a few Remedies for Aphids on the Internet and followed the directions for the first line of attack: heavy sprays of water. This worked on a few, took them down into the soil and drowned them. In a few hours though, a few hearty pests climbed the stems again and began to set up new colonies. My next attack was with my Homemade Organic Pest Control. This seemed to take out the more determined bugs. A few are still lodged in hiding places in the stems and leaves though, so my next option is to dab with an alcohol soaked Q-tip. If all these remedies fail I will toss the plants in the garbage and begin again. GRRRRR…