Spider mites

I have been having terrible problems with spider mites. I spray regularly with pyrethrum and Safer’s soap but the pests reappear. Can you give me a permanent solution to spider mites?

Spider mites are the bane of marijuana growers. Mites are not insects, but arachnids, the same family as spiders. They have eight legs. Your garden is probably infested with two spotted mites. When looking through a loop or magnifying glass, two black spots are visible on the pest’s back. Gardens are also infrequently infested with the red spider mite.

Spider mites are about the size of a poppy seed. They insert a tube into the plant and suck out its juices. Indoors, where they are not combating nature’s challenges, mites multiply quickly and overwhelm gardens. Mites lay eggs after they mature, about two weeks after hatching. The females lay thousands of eggs over their lifetime. They hatch in about three days.

Mites inhabit the underside of the leaf and are not readily apparent. The first indication of their presence is usually the sight of tiny brown spots circled by small yellow areas. These areas indicate sites where mites have used their proboscises to puncture the leaf surface and suck the plant’s sweet juices. As the population increases they begin to build webs and can be seen commuting from one feeding area to the next.

If only one plant or one section of a plant seems to be infected or if a plant is much more infected than the others in the garden, wrap it in a plastic bag to prevent infecting the other plants as you remove it from the garden.

If your plants are growing vegetatively you have quite a few options. First you can wash them with a moderately vigorous spray to knock down the mite population. This will help the plants by lessening their loss of vital juices. Prepare a spray with a teaspoon of real soap such as Dr. Bronner’s peppermint or eucalyptus liquid soap per gallon of water, or spray with Safer’s horticultural soap to help dislodge and suffocate the pests. Mites are found on the underside of the leaves and must be sprayed there. If the plants are small or easy to handle it might be easier to dip them in the soapy water. Spraying can remove most but not all the mites, and it doesn’t remove the eggs.

A small mite infection left unchecked is a temporary condition. So it is unwise to go into flowering with infected plants. The problem is that after the plants are one third of the way through flowering, two to three weeks, you want to avoid spraying with water or soapy water to wash off the suckers.

Mites must be eliminated before forcing or when they attack plants in the early stages of flowering. If not they will multiply with disastrous results. The skimpy buds will be low quality and covered with dead mites. It’s not an enjoyable smoke.

Spraying can be used to control mites through the vegetative stage and for the first two or three weeks of flowering. However, other means must be used to get the plants to the zero tolerance level. By far the easiest method is to use an acceptable miticide.

There are several commercial miticides that can be used early in the season to kill mites.

Pyrethrum has been used to kill mites. It is a natural pesticide produced by a close relative of the chrysanthemum. The problem with using it is that many races of mites have developed immunity to it. However, it is the first miticide you should try.

Cinnamite comes as a concentrate that is diluted and sprayed on the plants. It contains a miticide derived from cinnamon oil. It is very safe and is rated least hazardous. It is quite effective but it doesn’t kill the eggs. It should be used every three days for two weeks to make sure all the mites are killed soon after they hatch. It is a contact spray so plants should be dipped or sprayed on the leaf undersides. It is also effective against powdery mildew.

Neem oil is a natural miticide derived from the nuts of the Neem tree, which is found in India. It is a mite repellent as well, so some gardeners use it as a prophylactic, spraying it on a weekly basis. I mix neem oil with Cinnamite to eliminate small infections. Cinnamite and neem oil are also used against powdery mildew.

For growers who distrust anything commercial, try an ?herbal tea? that acts as a miticide. To each quart of water use a tablespoon each of ground cinnamon, ground clove and 2 tablespoons of ground Italian seasoning. Heat the mixture until it starts to simmer, then turn off the heat. Add 2 tablespoons crushed fresh garlic when the water cools to warm. Let the tea sit until it cools. Strain and save the water using a cloth or coffee filter. Add a few drops of liquid soap or dishwashing liquid to the water. It is ready to be sprayed on the leaf undersides. After spraying the mites off with water, spray it on the leaf undersides. It will eliminate the mites if it is sprayed every three days after the wash. Within two weeks the mites will probably be gone.

Avid is a miticide registered for ornamental plants. Its active ingredient is abamectin, a derivative of a toxin originally found in soil bacteria. Avid is not registered for use on vegetables except in certain restricted situations. Other brands of abamectin such as AgriMek by Syngenta are registered for a wide range of crops. The AgriMek label calls for a minimum of a seven day wait between application and harvest. I wouldn’t use marijuana if I knew it was treated with this pesticide during the last few weeks of flowering.

Some gardeners have reported success controlling mites using predatory mites or other predators. These carnivorous mites reach an equilibrium with the herbivorous mites, keeping damage to a bare minimum. I have tried introducing mixed species of predatory mites a few times but have never been satisfied with the results. They did not get the problem under control. However, they can work and some gardeners swear by them. I probably didn’t provide them with the right conditions. There are also other predators that eat mites, but I have no experience using them.

Ultimately, the solution to the mite problem and the pest problem in general is to prevent the garden from becoming infected. Following certain simple rules will help:
Wear freshly washed clothes or change into a garden outfit when going into the garden.

Never work outdoors, especially in a garden or other vegetative or turf area right before working in your indoor garden.

Pests are frequently carried in on shoes. Do like Mr. Rogers and change your footwear before you enter the garden.

Don’t use outdoor soil, tools or containers in the indoor garden

If a plant is to be introduced to the garden, first do a close examination and then put it in quarantine for five or six days. Examine it closely, especially the underside of leaves, before placing it in the garden.

Close up any unfiltered airways or holes through which plant pests might enter. Make sure that air intake from outside is filtered.

Readers with grow questions (or answers) should send them to Ed at: Ask Ed, PMB 147, 530 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA.
You can also email Ed at [email protected] and send queries via his website at www.ask-ed.net.
All featured questions will be rewarded with a copy of Ed’s book, The Big Book of Buds.
Sorry, Ed cannot send personal replies to your questions.



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  229. Joanne on

    you nned to buy Liquid Ladt Bug, you can spray from buds to harvest and anytime you want,
    Best thing we have used, and we have used them all.
    its out of Texas I think, I bought in a hydroponic store in Farmersville CA.

  230. Anonymous on

    I totally would not use avid as it is straight up a poison and actually has created super spider mites which have mutated and are impervious to poisons. avid is also against the law in california due to the extreme toxicity of it, kinda like DDT

  231. beers on

    I am two weeks before harvast and spider mites have taken over. can I use forbid two week before harvast

  232. Anonymous on

    This is a little more accurate description of the effects and contraindacations on plants. I would not worry about the efficacy after 7 days on MJ buds!!! Totally safe!!! Read!!

    “Avid is a miticide that contains Abamectin, which is a mixture of avermectins, which are antibiotic compounds derived from the soil bacterium Streptomyces avermitilis. Abamectin acts as an insecticide by affecting the nervous system of and paralyzing insects. Abamectin is used to control insect and mite pests of citrus, pear, and nut tree crops, and it is used by homeowners for control of fire ants.

    Avid is mixed with water and sprayed on the surface of the leaves. It is generally mixed at a rate of 1/4 teaspoon per quart of water. The conventional wisdom is that it is safe to spray on your plants 5 weeks before harvest. Mites die when they come in contact with it.

    Avid breaks down quickly once it is mixed so don’t mix more of it than you need at the time. Given its cost, that should be an easy caveat with which to live. Do not resuse your leftovers, at its diluted stregnth spider mites may survive a treatment, which might lead to resistance.

    Avid is post a pesticide and an ovicide, which means it kills mites and eggs.”

  233. Anonymous on

    I wouldn’t worry about it AS LONG AS you give plenty of time for it to be washed off. After mites die they there carcasses will stick around it would be a good idea to spray a plain water or folar feast. This will get the dead mites off swell as the remaining forbid. far as no rinse and
    Kind of a spray then smoke I would highly NOT recommend. You really wanna kill em asap because they can drain vital nutes needed for resin production. If you think it’s too late to smoke I’d just hash it

  234. Pokey on

    I too would like to know the answer to this one?

  235. Anonymous on

    How is forbid as far as effects on plants you will smoke or make canna butter out of is it bad for human consumtion?

  236. srhkid on

    actually the “hot shot” no pest strip works absolutely amazing if you have a small enclosed area.. you should probably turn your fans off at night or something tho bc it requires a room with no activity for at least 4 hours a day. it works pretty good for me.

  237. Anonymous on

    I forgot! Do not waist money on so called predatory mites! I spent $100 on them, NOTHING! THE BAD MITES KICK THE GOOD ONES ASSES!

  238. Anonymous on

    like all of you i Have tried neem oil, sucra shield Pyrethrum sprays, Pyrethrum bombs, predatory mites, spray downs, isolations. I feared that I would have to kill off my plants and start from scratch, this was horrifying; My girls were 2nd week flowering and were over 3 ft tall. My fan leafs were covered with eggs, mite bites, and webs. One day i met a man who introduced me to the cure, Forbid Miticide/Ovicide . the down side to this wonderful cure is that it is sold in 8-oz bottles, they charge nearly $300 for this amount. luckily i was lucky enough to buy a few drops of his, this is an ovicide which kills the eggs, and the rat bastards themselves. At first I saw no results, but then they started to stop eating the plant, no new mites hatched and they began to die, with in a week they were dead. The order of events leading to the extermination; Pyrethrum bomb to kill any who are not resistant( if room allows) first night when lights are off! Next a attack with the mighty FORBID! There is no need to spray undersides of leaves! something in this penetrates the leaves killing all, but it wouldn’t hurt to do the undersides. Flowing this I attacked a low dose of neem oil, then I used forbid again, to make sure every mite was hit with something. This was over a course of four days and might have been over kill. maybe just a few attacks with forbid but I was testing this product and was skeptical. Forbid is available in small amounts for cheap on ebay. My plants were saved and using the final product it was hard to believe mites were ever a problem. if You encounter mites kill em as fast as possible. Keep any other plants that are not high value out of the room and do not let any forgin things in to room, like cats and dogs, be carfull where you get clones from. and maybe isolate the new plants after a dose of forbid. Good luck to all


  239. JoeRoyal on

    Hey man, How long can you use Habanero Hell during flowering?

  240. Anonymous on

    Haha .. Burning eyes and assholes indeed. Finding or getting hold of a few ladybirds is helpful. release them onto your plants and let them do all the hard hunting work for you. or at least aid in your attempts in collaboration with spraying. Spider Fuckers

  241. Anonymous on

    I have scotch bonnet peppers in the fridge.
    I was going to make a REALLY HOT curry for myself,
    I think i’ll feed em to the spidermites.
    Bastards will lose this war with burning eyes and assholes.

  242. RICK Anonymous on

    whats the latest on spider mite control? my curernt is Pyrethium(sp) spray and Einstein Oil

  243. Jim Richardson on

    Here is a remedy I just started with and it seems to work fine. It is also very inexpensive and seems to be very safe as far as not damaging the plant. I first used it on aphids and then tried it on some spider mites on my cannabis plant.

    Try doing this:…chop up about 10 habanero peppers and several cloves of garlic. Put them into a bottle of water and let set for a few days until the water is very hot, pepper wise. You could also chop up other types of hot chilis but habaneros are the hottest.
    After allowing to soak for several days strain the water and you’re ready to start spraying. I call it “habanero hell”. It’s totally natural with no dangerous chemicals. It seems to kill them instantly and will probably make the leaves too hot to suck on. I just started this so will see how it goes.
    I found this idea while “googling” on treating for aphids. Any really hot peppers will probably work.