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She is feared by almost every hobby gardener and botanist: the common spider mite. In this country, it is above all the approximately half a millimeter large, slightly orange or greenish spider mites that like to "kill" our houseplants.
But also reddish-brown or yellow pests always occur again.
The Tetranychus urticae sting the cells of individual plants with their mouthparts typical of all types of mites and suck them out gradually.
They are usually found on the underside of leaves of a plant. After a short time, the leaves are slightly speckled, and in case of advanced infestation, the typical, gray-brown discoloration is recognizable until they dry completely in the "final stage". Especially when it gets cooler outside and as a result more is heated, spider mites increasingly appear.
Their pronounced greediness and activity is what makes the domestic spider mite so dangerous in this country. Also typical are the fine, whitish spines, which are often seen on infested plant parts. Under the influence of moisture these webs immediately catch the eye.
Special "delicacies" for spider mites
Rosemary loves the spider mite as much as the sweet juice of ficus, primrose or rhododendron. But also on the bellflower, on numerous ivy plants or on the rosemary the Tetranychus urticae likes to settle down.
In addition, it does not miss out on various cactus plants, begonia, wolfberry plants and even orchid species. As varied as the taste preference of the common spider mite is, it is not so resistant.
Much to the pleasure of the hobby gardener, because this in turn allows numerous ways to master the spider mite plague on the windowsill or on the home terrace. Nevertheless, patience and tact are required in this regard.
Same with equal "retaliate"?
In the past, one or the other method has been established to combat spider mites. Although some of these procedures guarantee quite promising results in the open air.
However, with regard to the control of spider mites on indoor plants, they are sometimes completely ineffective. In this context, for example, the use of so-called predatory mites is worth mentioning.
These are often offered in the trade for a lot of money, but ultimately use only the dealer himself.... Predatory mites eat the spider mites, but a complete fight against the plague - at least when used on houseplants - is thus not (always) possible.
This means that the surviving spider mites can continue to proliferate and allow their voracity to run wild. Very soon, the number of spider mites on the houseplant again becomes unmanageable.
Inventiveness is in demand
Although it is generally said that the spider mite is the most difficult species to control, it has some "offspring" against this pest. With small plastic bags, for example, it is very easy to fight spider mites.
Because the tiny pests appreciate the lowest possible humidity. So it is advisable to rinse the affected plants under the shower, in order to remove some of the spider mites.
Thereafter, the pest-infested plant parts are packed in plastic bags to create a humid climate as possible. After a few days, the bags are removed and the plant rinsed gently again. Subsequently, the after-treatment with a miticide is recommended.
Preparations from the specialized trade - or from the kitchen cabinet
Rapeseed oil or other (vegetable) oils do not like spider mites at all. Thus, it may sometimes be advisable to moisten the pests by rinsing the houseplant after a few drops of oil. Even special insecticide rods usually perform very well against spider mite infestation and also prevent re-infestation.