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Old August 7, 2018   #1
peebee's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Southern CA
Posts: 1,547
Default I Beat the Spider Mites this Year! Yipppee!

After 3 years of enduring spider mites in my garden, I can finally say I think I found a way to get rid of them. Or rather, to prevent them. I had done lots of research over the course of a year, and then I found an article in the L.A. Times about how the Huntington Gardens handled their spider mite problem. And the weapon was: Water!
Yes, I blasted the undersides of leaves AND watered my plants from the top. What did I have to lose? The mites got my plants all the time by sometime in July. I had tried everything: neem, soap, food grad DE spray, different insecticides, or a combination of all. Nothing worked and I worried as I read that mites only get stronger after spraying. Plus these methods were killing the beneficials too.
Disclaimer: my method worked for me as I only had about 25 plants to tend to. I also planted early, in late March but I think I will go back to April next year to avoid thrips which killed about 3 good plants. . I set my nozzle to the Flat setting, and sprayed sometimes daily when hot, otherwise maybe twice a week. The weather is hot and dry here, so I tried to replicate the humid wet conditions spider mites don't like.

My season is over but I am doing fall tomatoes now. The tomatoes in my office garden are covered in mites now as I didn't do the water spraying there. So I am hopeful that this simple water spraying will be effective from now on. To me it is the best method yet--cheap, easily available, non-toxic, and easy. No mixing, spraying etc. But it must be done from the very early stages of growth. Spider mite eggs might be in the soil and the adults can also appear on the wind.

Just wanted to post this in case others might want to try it. I am just so happy I had no spider mites on my tomatoes this year. Yes they are on other ornamentals but I did not blast those with water.
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Old August 7, 2018   #2
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Location: Alabama
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Good for you but it isn't a viable option down here in the hot humid south. I sometimes use a water spray but try not to do it unless conditions are unusually hot and dry because the foliage diseases love our humid conditions and the more frequently the plants are wet the worse they get. If a fungicide is not kept on the plants the diseases will quickly move in and take over when the weather is hot and humid which is almost always. When the humidity is as high as it usually is down here the plants just have a hard time drying out. Even though the air is humid and the plants are usually dripping water in the mornings it doesn't seem to slow down the spider mites too much though they definitely are worse when it is very dry. I have found that to combat spider mites over a long season it is best to alternate treatments because they do become resistant over time. I use soapy water, neem oil, Permethrin, DE, plain water, and even essential oils in my efforts to combat them; but I have to always keep fungicides on the plants during this time of the year or they will quickly succumb to all the usual foliage diseases.

I hope your treatment of water spraying keeps working for you and consider you very fortunate if it does.

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Old August 7, 2018   #3
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Location: Southeastern PA
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That is the treatment that we use here to get rid of aphids and it works on them too. They are too small and weak to get back onto the plants when you blast them off with a stream of water.
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Old August 7, 2018   #4
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Location: 2 miles south of Yoknapatawpha Zone 7b
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peebee, thanks so much for this post.

For years I've been reading about the problems people have with spider mites and the plants lost to them.

I'm located in North Mississippi and have never had a problem with spider mites. No experience with them, so no advice to offer. I normally don't try to kill insects or animals. What I try to do is confuse and deter them so they don't eat my plants or lay their eggs on them. The primary way I do this is with a Garlic, Cayenne Pepper, and Ground Sage tea. The tea repels Deer, Racoons, Possums, birds and most insects.

You may have noticed when you get hungry you find something to eat. Insects and animals are the same way. If the only thing growing in your garden is your vegetables, what do you think they are going to eat? I let the grass and weeds grow in my garden to act as a living mulch and food for the insects and animals. I spray the tea on my plants but not on the grass and weeds.

I use the tea starting at transplant and when planting seeds (it masks the odor of the seeds so animals and birds can't find them and dig them up).

To use the tea, spray all of the plants and especially the underside of the leaves to the point of runoff. Repeat every week to 10 days to cover new growth.

If I ever have a problem with Spider Mites I'll know what to do. Thanks again, Claud

Last edited by saltmarsh; August 7, 2018 at 10:06 AM.
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Old August 7, 2018   #5
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Indialantic, Florida
Posts: 1,644

I don't get spider mites but for the last 2 years I've had tomato russet mites.

I did something similar to you except I used a hose end sprayer and blasted them with water/ kelp in the evenings. At one point I did it 4 days in a row. I used powered kelp so it was really inexpensive.

I also bought a Fogg It Nozzle

that I used sometimes during the day with plain water but would more often just adjusted the regular hose nozzle to a flat, etc spray pattern. I had intended on attaching the Fogg It to the hose end sprayer but that didn't work as planned.

I live in a hot / humid area but get a lot of wind and found no ill effects from having wet leaves. It must be the wind or being close to the ocean.
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Old August 8, 2018   #6
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Southern CA
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To all who replied here, yes I consider myself very fortunate for living in a climate where this water blasting is an option. Definitely it will not work for everyone.
The curators at the Huntington Rose Garden were my inspiration. Because of our ongoing drought (6 years plus now) they have had to adjust watering and fertilizing. The roses that exhibited any foliage problems due to the overhead watering were culled; only the strongest remain.
Of all my tomatoes, the only one that had gray mold from the get-go was Esterina. The Sungold next to it was fine. But I'll grow it again next year in a different spot just to be sure.
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