If you are growing cannabis plants then there are several things that could affect your yield.
One of the most annoying problems are spider mites and they have a tendency to show up just as the plant is about to flower.
It is a frustrating issue but certainly not one that cannot be solved. The first thing you’ll need to do is identify these critters and then we can tackle the problem.
If you do not sort this infestation out as soon as possible then these spider mites can cause irreparable damage to your plants, and nobody wants that.
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What Are Spider Mites?
As their name suggests, spider mites are actually related to spiders.
But that said, they’ve also got biological connections to things like scorpions and ticks. Interestingly, like their arachnid cousins, they are even able to spin webs.
The problem with spider mites is not only that they can cause damage to your plants. But they also multiple at a shocking rate.
A single female can lay as many as 1400 eggs in a year and they take just days to hatch.
Once born, new spider mites can then breed within as little as five days. So once you have an infestation, it won’t take long to get wildly out of control.
Spider mites will literally suck the life out of your cannabis plant.
They have sharp mouths that are able to penetrate right into the cells of your plant and draw out what’s inside.
As a Result – You will notice small specks on your plant which are typically white, orange or yellow in color.
How To Tell If Spider Mites Are Present On Your Cannabis Plant
While we have described exactly what a spider mite is, it’s important that you are able to identify them.
This will ensure that you catch an infestation early on and can deal with the problem before it gets out of hand.
As we have already mentioned, spider mites will cause small specks on the leaves of your cannabis plant.
But in the very early stages, these marks can be difficult to spot as they can be quite small. In fact, some people mistake them for other things like mildew but this can be a fatal error.
Spider mites are not large creatures.
In fact, it’s unusual for them to get much bigger than around 1mm so you’ll need to look closely if you’re going to spot them.
It’s better to use some sort of magnifying lens as this will help you notice them more easily.
But you can also look out for other effects on your plant which could be a key giveaway that spider mites are present.
For example, your plant might not be growing as much as you expected and the buds might be smaller or even deformed.
You may also notice that the leaves are discolored, in particular, the underside may turn brown or white.
Additionally – It is possible that the leaves appear to be dying, despite it being a young, and otherwise healthy plant.
But one of the most common giveaways is that there is a clear presence of webs over your plants.
These could be mistaken for a regular spider’s web but it’s uncommon for spiders to nest here.
Getting Rid Of Spider Mites
If you’re having problems with spider mites, we won’t sugar coat it; they can be tricky to deal with.
But the sooner you face the problem, the more likely you will be to successfully deal with it.
As a cannabis plant grower, it’s a good idea to always be ready to tackle spider mites and have back up products at the ready.
Using Chemical Products
Nobody really wants to use chemicals on their plants but there may be times when you have to.
We would suggest trying natural methods before heading straight for insecticides.
But if you’re not having success or feel that the infestation is too severe, then there are many chemical ways of dealing with it.
Things like Ortho and Bio-Advanced are good options but there comes a special way of approaching treatment.
You will need to choose which product is best and make sure that you apply it in the correct manner.
For example, if you want something organic, use something like Spinosad which is totally harmless to you and your plants.
It’s ideal for getting rid of spider mites and you can add it to your plant’s water for a consistent dose.
Essentria IC3 is also an organic option that is effective in the fight against spider mites.
But you should keep in mind that when spraying this, you will need to apply it every day until the problem is dealt with.
Finally: There are lots of insecticide soaps which can be applied directly to the plant. However, this isn’t an instant treatment and you will normally need to apply a few times before you really see results. It’s important to keep up with applications to avoid the infestation worsening again.
Using Natural Methods
When fighting any kind of pest or disease on a plant, we would always recommend taking a natural approach where possible.
There are several methods you could use and you may even use a combination of these.
Just keep in mind that you may need to repeat these processes in order to get the best results, especially since spider mites are so resistant:
- You could spend some time manually removing the spider mites. You will need to keep a very close eye on your plants in the following days to make sure you haven’t missed any. It’s possible to pick them off but it’s likely easier to prune the plants and remove the affected leaves.
- It is also possible to use your vacuum cleaner. Set it on a low power and move it over the plant which will remove the spider mites without harming the plant itself.
- Water is a great natural defence against pests and all you need to do is use a hose to spray the plants down. It won’t do them any harm but it will remove the spider mites. If you want maximum effectiveness for this method, we would suggest spraying the plants with a soap and water solution.
- Neem oil is super effective for many pests including spider mites. While you can add it on its own, it’s far better to include it in a homemade pesticide using water, black soap and neem oil. You can then simply spray this onto your plants and watch the mite population dwindle. That said, while this will kill adult mites, it will not affect the eggs so you should repeat the process to ensure you get any hatchlings.
- Ladybugs will feed on spider mites but they won’t hurt your cannabis plants. Collect some and introduce them and you’ll soon notice a massive drop in the number of mites. If you are growing your plants outdoors, this might not be the best method as the bugs may simply fly away.
- There are various types of essential oils that can be used to kill spider mites including lemon, peppermint, eucalyptus, cinnamon and rosemary.
Preventing Future Infestations
Once you have successfully rid your plants of the spider mites, the last thing you’ll want is for them to return.
So it is now a case of defending your plants against reinfestation.
You can create a proper maintenance routine to ensure healthy, mite-free plants including the following:
- Take the time to frequently check your plants over. Look for actual spider mites as well as signs that they may be present, including those we discussed earlier on.
- Make sure that the room you are growing your plants in has a decent humidity level. Spider mites thrive in drier conditions so keeping the room humid should be enough to deter them.
- Growing your plants outdoors creates a much better home for spider mites so use a hydroponic system indoors where possible.
- If you are growing plants indoors, it is super important not to bring outdoor plants in and risk cross contamination. If you are bringing anything foreign into the setting, quarantine it for a couple of weeks so you can be sure there won’t be any problems.
- Always make sure that your plants have a clean and hygienic environment. When you regularly clean the area, you will remove any problems including spider mites and other things like molds.
- If you ensure that the room your plants are in is well ventilated, this automatically lowers the temperature and will put spider mites off settling here. Use a full AC system or if you can’t, some simple electric fans will suffice.
- Try to keep all conditions favourable for spider mites such as high humidity, low temperatures and excellent ventilation and you shouldn’t have too many problems.Particularly, these creatures do not like temperatures below 75ºF.
Spider mites can be a real problem if they infest your cannabis plants because they are notoriously difficult to get rid of.
But that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible.
You might have to repeat treatments several times to be successful but once you have got rid of them, make sure to create a hostile environment so that they won’t want to return.