Spider mites

Burleson, TX(Zone 8a)

I am needing suggestions for organic ways to get rid of spider mites outside. I noticed yesterday that they are on my milkweed, which I am not happy about! I can't spray anything on them because the milkweed is planted just for the Monarchs. It's been so dry here, which I guess is what they like. Will hosing them off work? After doing that, should I make sure the plants stay misted? It's very easy for the leaves to be dry here with the heat and wind. Any advice is appreciated!

Russell, KY(Zone 6b)

Just take a hose out there every day and wet the plants thoroughly- under every leaf. Water is all you need to combat spider mites.

My milkweed always looks ragged- between the caterpillars and the bugs. That's why we (here anyway) place them in out of the way places and not in focal point zones.

Temecula, CA(Zone 8b)

I'm with Cearbhaill on this one. Spider mites love conditions of low humidity. Raise the humidity and drown a few all at the same time.

Best of luck,

Winchester, VA(Zone 6b)

or just water well and put the plant in a plastic bag for a week.

Josephine, Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

I have used dishwashing liquid, one tablespoon per quart of water and spray that on them and have had good luck with it, also good for aphids, I hope it helps.

Burleson, TX(Zone 8a)

I did go out and spray the plants with some soapy water. It wasn't easy since I have a ton of it and most of them are still small! (no way I could do the plastic bag thing!) I've been keeping them wet since it's been SO DRY. I'll go inspect again today. Hopefully I'll come back with a good report!

Fritch, TX(Zone 6b)

Wish the corn farmers around here would consider that. Last year, because of our "unusually wet conditions" (wetter this year!), the ban on hexymiathanon (or something or that sort) was taken off so they could spray the corn for mites! Some farmers sprayed every day just to prevent them! I now only eat my corn, and will soon grow my own beef, as that chemical is in this years feed, thus will be in next years beef!

Glad you found a natural way to combat them!

Livingston, MT(Zone 3b)

Pardon the bump here, but was wondering if anybody had good results getting rid of the spider mites. I'm having a problem in my greenhouse on my pole beans. I've been spraying them with water every other day and just started using Neem oil. Seems to be helping but it is really hard to get all the leaves. Does the dishwashing soap have any phytotoxicity effects? I've used the Safer soap and that dried the leaves so much. I grow organic vegetables for market so i definitely need it to be approved for organic use.


Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Regardless of its actual safety, etc I don't belive dish soap would be approved for use on organic produce that you're planning to sell. For home gardeners I think a lot of people who garden organically use it and can feel good about it, but I can pretty much guarantee you that Dawn and Palmolive haven't bothered to get any sort of approval from OMRI so if you're planning to sell produce labeled as organic I'd stick with the neem or insecticidal soap. Honestly I've had decent luck getting rid of spider mites with the garden hose, most of the time mine are in containers though so it's real easy to tip the container on its side and get the undersides of the leaves that way so in the ground that might not work as well. But there's a product called the Bug Blaster which attaches to your hose and angles the spray so it can get the undersides of the leaves so you might look into that.

I also am not sure that the Safer soap is what's causing your leaves to look dried up, that might just be spider mite damage. Regardless of whether I use insecticidal soap, neem, or the garden hose on my spider mites, the leaves always end up looking that way because the mites have done damage to the leaf and it can't recover, so it turns brown and dies. I've used all three of those (soap, neem, and garden hose) to control aphids as well and in those cases I have never seen the browning/drying of the leaves, so I think what you're seeing is due to the mites not what you were using to control them. Plus if you use dish soap at a high enough concentration to actually kill the mites, I don't think it would damage the leaves any less than insecticidal soap would.

Livingston, MT(Zone 3b)

Thanks! I had those concerns with the dishwashing soap. I've been good at using only OMRI listed stuff so far and following NOP guidelines. I'm not certified organic, but if it ever comes to that point I want to be on the right track. I'm going to look into that Bug Blaster because the consensus definitely seems to be "washing them away."

Stevensville, MT(Zone 4b)

just reading this old thread.......have you ever tried ladybugs in your greenhouse?

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Ladybugs won't do anything for spider mites, so in this case they wouldn't be particularly useful. But if you've got aphids in your GH then you could look into it as long as your temperature regulation is good enough that you could keep things in a temperature range that they can be happy with (I don't know what temp range that is, but some GH's can have pretty wild temperature swings between day/night so you'd want to make sure that the highest and lowest temps that you have are within the range of what they can tolerate).

Hahira, GA(Zone 8b)

I read somewhere here on DG that Joy dish soap has no phosphates - don't know whether it's organic or not, but sure has helped with my spider mites! It's too soon to tell if they've been defeated, or are just "laying low" for now! Samantha

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I don't think any hand dish soap has phosphates in it anymore, at least not the major brands. The stuff for the dishwasher still does in many cases but not the hand dishwashing soap. Dish soap is one of those things that is not officially organic, but many people who are trying to follow the "spirit" of organic gardening consider it OK to use.

Deep South Coastal, TX(Zone 10a)

I have something called colloidal plant wash that is pretty good and is okay for organic growers to use.

Arlington, TX

I was searching the forum on how spider mites and found this thread. My milkweed is also loaded with spider mites. Also, some yellow leaves. It has not been that dry here, whhm. Like the OP, I planted the milkweed just for the monarchs. What on earth can I do to get rid of the mites that will not hurt any cats or eggs? I have never seen spider mites in my yard before, until this current infestation on the milkweed. I fear spraying with water would kill the tiny monarch eggs? I suffer greatly in any kind of pest control because I fear killing "good" bugs and all of the texas spiny lizards somehow. I know it is crazy but I do worry about it.

Thanks for any help!

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Are you sure your milkweed has spider mites and not aphids? I'm sure milkweed can get spider mites, but there is a milkweed aphid that absolutely loves milkweed and I have never grown a milkweed plant without getting them, so I wonder if that's not what you have instead? They're orange colored and much more easily visible than spider mites. Here are some pics of the milkweed aphids so you can see if they look familiar http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=milkweed+aphids&btnG=Search+Images&gbv=2&aq=f&oq=
If it is the aphids, it's rather gross but you can squish them by hand and that should avoid any harm to eggs/cats. I also remember someone posting on another thread that leaving the squished aphids on the plant deters more aphids from coming and attacking.

If it is spider mites, unfortunately they live on the underside of the leaves and that's also where monarchs lay their eggs--you might look under the leaves and see if you have any eggs, if you don't then you're probably OK to spray with neem or insecticidal soap to knock out the mites, and then hopefully the monarchs will be along later to lay their eggs. The trouble with spider mites is they spread VERY readily to other plants (vs the milkweed aphids which like milkweed but won't bother your other plants) so unless you want all the plants around it to get spider mites too you really need to treat for it or rip the plants up, if you leave it alone while you wait for the monarchs to hatch and feed, the spider mites will be spreading to all the nearby plants.

Arlington, TX


Thanks so very much, you are absolutely correct in your suggesting that I might have milkweed aphids rather than spider mites. I looked at the pics in the link and the milkweed aphids are indeed what is there. I feel better now and am less worried! I will be brave and squish them, leaving some "remains" on the milkweed to deter any more campers.

Many, many thanks!

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 4b)

Have you considered growing plants that attract aphid-eating insects like lady beetles or green lacewings?

Arlington, TX

Actually, yes, puddlepirate! I did think that I would research that, was planning on looking it up. Do you have any suggestions for me? I seem to have a good showing of the green lacewings, but not lady beetles.

Thanks so much!

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Texas_Viola~Since you're in Arlington, go to Redenta's. They sell lots of organic supplies including ladybugs. I'm not sure about the green lacewings.

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