Protection of seedlings from spider mites
Once, at the dawn of my passion for floriculture, I could not determine the cause of the death of some plants in seedling age. I considered the small yellow ripples on the leaves to be a manifestation of some unknown disease, and the cobweb was a consequence of the fact that the spiders decided to choose the affected plant. Today I can identify the spider mite at the very initial stage of the lesion. And I have accumulated several effective techniques that help keep this dangerous pest in check. I’ll talk about this in my article.
A few facts about the spider mite
Spider mites are not true insects, but belong to the type of arachnids, being close relatives of spiders and scorpions. Adult individuals are dark brown in color, oval in shape and very small in size (on average 0.4 mm long). Young individuals outwardly resemble adults, but smaller.
Ticks live in colonies, mainly on the underside of leaves and feed on by piercing leaf tissue, sucking out the juice. Traces of feeding appear as light small dots on the leaves. As the number of punctures increases, the leaves turn yellow, dry out and may fall.
To protect their colonies, ticks secrete a cobweb, which covers the affected plant. In addition, on the cobwebs, they travel with the help of the wind to capture more and more territories.
Firstly, before the start of the seedling season, it is very important to conduct thorough preparation, which includes the following steps.
Processing all indoor plants
At least two weeks before the start of the “planting season”, it is important to process from the spider mite of absolutely all the indoor flowers available in the house. This is important to do, even if there are no signs of tick damage on the flowers, because the damage can be so slight that it can be difficult to notice with the naked eye.
But, when ticks find something more tasty, for example, young shoots, they will quickly migrate to seedlings and begin to multiply rapidly. Processing must be carried out twice, strictly according to the instructions for the drug (about the best way to treat plants from spider mites, read below).
General cleaning in the house
If seedlings are grown in only one room, then you can limit yourself only to the room where the seedlings will stand. But since I have plants on every window during this period, I have to do a general cleaning in the whole apartment. Given that mite eggs can persist on surfaces for a long time, the importance of these procedures can hardly be overestimated. This is especially necessary if a tick raged on seedlings last season.
First of all, I remove and erase all the curtains. After that, I proceed to the windows: I treat all surfaces with a special zoospray from fleas and ticks, and stand for two hours. Then I carefully wash the windowsills and windows, especially carefully process all the cracks and indentations in the frames. Such procedures will not only allow to destroy the tick, but also improve the illumination of seedlings, because during the winter the glass could get very dirty. After that, it is also advisable to vacuum the carpets further.
Mites and their masonry can be found even in purchased shop soil, so freezing will help to destroy living individuals, but this will not always affect masonry. Therefore, before sowing, it is better to spill the substrate in advance with drugs that act not only on adult ticks, but also destroy their oviposition.
Unfortunately, these procedures can only be effective “before the first open window”. After all, when it gets warm enough on the street, tiny ticks will begin to travel with the wind and, when airing, may well land on your seedlings. Therefore, it is impossible to guarantee complete protection of plants from ticks, and you should always be ready to effectively deal with this enemy.
Stress due to lack of moisture makes plants more susceptible to tick infection. Try to keep your plants watered on time. For prevention in prolonged hot weather, spray the seedlings with warm water, provide good care in general.
Quarantine for new plants
When growing seedlings, do not forget about quarantine for new “green pets”. Artful ticks can move to seedlings even with a bouquet of flowers. Therefore, every time new live or cut plants appear in the house, carry out protective spraying of seedlings with a solution of essential oils. It is noted that the most unpleasant mite odors are rosemary and neem.
6-8 drops of neem or rosemary oil are added per 1 liter of water, and seedlings are sprayed with this raster. An unpleasant aroma will scare away the tick, and it does not dare to relocate. However, it is better not to carry out such spraying when the air temperature is above 32 degrees and in bright sunlight. It is most preferable to spray seedlings with such a composition overnight.
Special control over the "favorites" of the spider mite
The spider mite has some particularly favorite plants, but having done away with the “tasty” (if you missed this attack), it will start to infect more and more new plants. For example, once I started with seedlings of flowers, a spider mite spread even to tomato seedlings, which in principle happens very rarely.
The most delicious summers for spider mites: horned viola, balsam, morning glory, nemesia. These plants need to be treated with particular care, because it is with them that the infection most often begins.
Be sure to alternate the preparations, as the tick easily develops immunity against any acaricides. Foliage is necessarily sprayed on both sides. At the same time as treating the plants, spray the surface of the soil, the container and the nearest adjacent surfaces.
How to detect ticks on seedlings in time?
Although the spider mite is a very dangerous pest that can cause serious damage to plants until they die, it is not difficult to cope with it at the initial stages of infection. From this follows the main rule for all seedlings growing: regularly inspect seedlings, turning the leaves, because it mainly lives on the back side of leaf blades.
If you notice suspicious dark spots, is it better to take a magnifying glass and take a closer look - are they motionless or move slowly? If the suspicions are confirmed, then you should immediately proceed to the fight.
Preparations for combating spider mites on seedlings
Before choosing a drug for combating spider mites, it is important to remember that this pest is not an insect, which means that insecticides will not work on it. To combat ticks, a special group of drugs is used - acaricides.
Earlier, I used one of the most popular and almost the only acaricide, which I everywhere found on sale. And, in principle, I was satisfied with the effect of the drug. But tick invasions were repeated from year to year and flared several times during the period of growing seedlings. The effectiveness of the drug has decreased significantly, which is associated with the ability of the tick to develop resistance.
So now I prefer to use a new generation of acaricides. I will say right away that these are very expensive drugs, however, most of them have a huge advantage: they kill the tick at all stages of development, and some even work on oviposition.
Apollo. Mostly, the drug has a devastating effect on the eggs of herbivorous mites. Apollo does not kill adult individuals, but sterilizes the females. At the same time, adult ticks, without leaving offspring, die by their death.
Oberon. A broad-spectrum drug - insect-acaricide. In addition to activity in the fight against herbivorous ticks, it can be effective in combating greenhouse whiteflies, thrips, mining flies and leaf flies.
Canemight. Effective acaricide contact action. Destroys most common herbivorous ticks, acting on the pest at all stages of its development (destroys both larvae and adults). After treatment of the affected plants, a very fast damaging effect is manifested.
Nissoran. Highly effective against all the most common types of herbivorous ticks. The drug shows a high ovicidal effect (destroys pest eggs) and is also extremely effective against larvae and nymphs. When eggs are laid on the treated surface of the leaf, the female oviposition becomes unviable.
Masai. The drug is effective for the destruction of arachnoid and other types of herbivorous ticks both at the stage of larvae and in relation to adults. In addition, it can also be used to destroy cicadas.
How to handle seedlings from spider mites?
Most of the most modern acaricides, unfortunately, are not systemic, but have a contact (in the best case, intestinal contact action). That is, in order to destroy an individual or an egg, it is necessary that the solution goes directly to its integument.
This fact significantly complicates the processing of plants. When there are a lot of seedlings, and if it is also a seedling of flowers with very fine foliage, then processing takes a lot of time. Yes, and physically lifting each leaf is uncomfortable.
Personally, in relation to seedlings, I prefer bathing instead of spraying. That is, instead of using the drug in a sprayer, I cook it in a bucket. Depending on the height of the highest seedling, I choose containers from 5 to 10 liters. So that the plants can be dipped "with the head."
For processing, I just take a pot with a seedling, dip a seedling in a container and gently rinse. Also, if necessary, you can additionally rinse the folded leaves with your fingers so that the solution can reach all hard-to-reach places. I always work only with gloves!
Of course, this method at times increases the consumption of acaricide, but I prefer not to save. After all, firstly, when spraying, there are much more opportunities to breathe in the drug. And, secondly, this method is much faster in time and easier technically. And the hand from spraying a large number of plants gets tired and starts to hurt.
Taking temperature into account when processing plants
The instruction for a number of acaricides states the need for double treatment with the drug. And if you use acaricide, which does not affect pest eggs, this recommendation should not be neglected. It is necessary to destroy not only adults, but also the future generation, which will soon emerge from eggs.
In this case, the interval between treatments in the instructions is conditional, while it directly depends on the air temperature. Indeed, with different indicators, the rate of offspring will be different:
- at a temperature of +20 ° C the interval between treatments is 10 days;
- at +25 ° C, an interval of 5 days;
- at +30 ° C an interval of 3 days.
At temperatures below +18 ° C - spraying is ineffective, since the active phase of the activity of pests is suspended, and they fall into hibernation, hiding in shelters.