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Old June 30, 2019   #1
b54red
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It was so wonderful not having to deal with spider mites last year but they have come back and quite strong. I knew it was bound to happen with the extremely dry weather we have had and I guess I should be thankful it took them this long to create havoc in my tomatoes. I sprayed them day before yesterday but a lot of damage had already been done and it has become more obvious since then. I started pruning the more severely damaged leaves and limbs and once I got started the extent of their spread was far worse than I thought. Some of my plants are now looking rather defoliated and they may get worse before or if they get better. I am sure to have a lot of sun scalded fruit due to leaf removal but from past experience I have found it better to have some sun damage than to leave too many leaves with all the eggs they lay. Despite the poison and DE it is impossible to get them all so removing the leaves they have been sucking on cuts down on the need for too many further treatments. It also makes it much easier to apply a second or third treatment and get much better results due to more thorough coverage of the remaining leaves and stems.

Since I was treating to tomatoes I thought it would be a good idea to treat my cucumbers which may or may not have nematodes. It was amazing how much less wilting I got on the cucumbers after spraying them and I needed to treat again for pickle worms and melon worms so I got two birds with one stone. It looks like it will extend the life of my cucumbers a bit and I hope it will help those older tomato plants that wre infested with spider mites.

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Old June 30, 2019   #2
GoDawgs
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I appreciate the heads up, Bill. I've just checked all the tomatoes and no spider mites. I can't remember ever having any problem with them but it sure pays to keep an eye out for them.
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Old June 30, 2019   #3
b54red
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I appreciate the heads up, Bill. I've just checked all the tomatoes and no spider mites. I can't remember ever having any problem with them but it sure pays to keep an eye out for them.
If you are getting the very dry weather and the 100 degree days with no rain like we have been having now for nearly two months you will start seeing them. First indication will be some slight stippling of some leaves usually above the half way height up the plant. The leaves may look a bit dry or faded before any mites can be even seen and webs follow along later once they get really multiplying fast. Now that I am older I find spotting them a bit harder as the eyes aren't nearly as sharp as they used to be. The signs usually start out very slowly and the damage starts out very gradually unless you really get a massive invasion of them. I have only had that happen a couple of times and it is frightening how fast they can ruin tomatoes when that happens.

When I first started growing tomatoes and spider mites hit in very hot dry weather I just assumed the tomatoes couldn't handle the heat and drought even though I was watering them. I just thought they were dying of natural causes and I guess in a way they were. I have always had so many things available to destroy my tomatoes that the subtlety of spider mites took a while to catch on to. Fusarium and RKN are very direct in their destruction of tomato plants and for decades they were the main things I had to worry about. I guess the damage they did just beat the spider mites to the punch most of the time; but now that I am grafting and have plants healthier for far longer the damage of spider mites during hot dry weather is one of the regular battles I have to wage to keep my plants going.

Maybe you will luck up and not have a problem with them this year. I had no problems with them last year and they don't always show up. I think they come blowing in on the wind but I have no real clue where they come from; only that they like it hot and dry. The dry part is not usually a problem til the end of summer or early fall but this year has been unusually dry and so I was watching for them.

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Old July 1, 2019   #4
AlittleSalt
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Pictures of spider mites on tomato plants https://www.google.com/search?q=spid...w=1152&bih=605
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Old July 1, 2019   #5
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I worked at a large production nursery (ornamentals) for over 18 years and the biggest target for spider mites we had in hot weather was junipers. You can take a piece of paper, hold it under a branch and tap the branch. Look closely at the paper for tiny black dots moving around. That might help you spot them easier. You're right about the webs. Once you see those, they're really entrenched!
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Old July 1, 2019   #6
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Pictures of spider mites on tomato plants https://www.google.com/search?q=spid...w=1152&bih=605
Great link! Thanks, Salt!
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Old July 1, 2019   #7
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I have the tomato russet mites again this year. The diatomaceous earth and permethrin are keeping them under control for now. Hotter weather is coming and it will become a battle for the rest of the year.
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Old July 1, 2019   #8
b54red
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I have the tomato russet mites again this year. The diatomaceous earth and permethrin are keeping them under control for now. Hotter weather is coming and it will become a battle for the rest of the year.
Sometimes I also use neem oil but make sure to use it once the sun is down. It seems to help especially with minor infestations. I will also use it alternating with the Permethrin and DE. I have found the more different things you throw at spider mites the better.

Bill
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Old July 1, 2019   #9
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In Hawaii, I'm dealing with Thrips. Never had them before, just whiteflies. They are killing everything !! No peppers this year. So, I sprayed soap and reseeded.
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Old July 3, 2019   #10
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Got in a third spraying in just five days last night and the results are obvious from the improvement I am seeing already. After the first Permethrin, DE and Dawn spray I spent most of the next day removing the most damaged foliage and on some plants it was most of the foliage. On the third day I sprayed late in the evening with neem oil and on the fifth day I did a repeat of the Permethrin, DE and Dawn treatment late in the evening.

All of the older tomato plants and some of the newer plants had spider mites and the resulting damage they cause. The reason for the quick succession of sprays is that I have found it more effective than waiting longer between treatments. One and done usually is not effective with spider mites unless there are very few of them and the weather is damp. When I first started fighting spider mites seriously I used to spray and then do it again a week or so later and the results were not good. I finally found out about their short life cycle and started trying more frequently and with less time between the spraying. I used a three day interval for years but decided to try just two days and the results were much better so that is what I do now.

If the weather remains this hot and dry I may have to treat my tomatoes again but I am hoping the weather pattern here will change and we will start getting some rain now and then.

Bill
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Old August 1, 2019   #11
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Well they are back with a vengeance again. Now they are on my newer plants that are just beginning to produce. I spent the last few days pruning and leaning and lowering them so I was carefully checking them and didn't see but the slightest hint of their reemergence until late yesterday afternoon. When I went out this morning to finish pruning I had to change my schedule and spray immediately as they had exploded since yesterday. I hope I can get them under control before losing too much foliage but it looks like I may be too late on a couple of my plants.

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Old August 1, 2019   #12
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I've never had them and I don't do preventative spraying. The summer isn't over so I may still have a nasty surprise this year.
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Old August 2, 2019   #13
b54red
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I've never had them and I don't do preventative spraying. The summer isn't over so I may still have a nasty surprise this year.
I never knew I had them either til I started staggered planting and having tomatoes from March thru November. I used to think that all tomatoes were just done in late July or early August and were dying a natural death. I have since found out that many varieties can live over 7 months if no diseases or pests take them out. Before I rarely had plants that lasted into late summer so I rarely had any spider mite infestations that I knew of but now I suspect those times in the past when we had unusually hot dry summers that they were the culprit in the early death of my tomatoes. Once I started grafting and had less concern with RKN, fusarium and Bacterial wilt I had to deal with diseases and pests through the hottest months of the year I found that spider mites could show up anytime with the right conditions and learned to recognize the signs of them attacking my plants.

I was not surprised at them showing up much earlier than normal this year since the weather conditions were ideal for them from early May on. I was so hopeful the bit of rain we had a few weeks ago was the end of that weather pattern for the summer but with the end of those few damp days the weather went right back to that bone dry very hot conditions with no rain at all for nearly three weeks and they returned before the rain could get here and help keep them at bay. Finally after spraying the plants for spider mites yesterday morning we got 2 inches of rain last night but it may be too late now as I am sure there are millions of their eggs now ready to hatch and the rain washed away the Pemethrin, soap and DE which would have retarded them from thriving again. With more rain possible I will have to still keep spraying until their life cycle is broken or until the plants die. I went out and checked on the plants first thing this morning and the extent of the damage they did in just a day or two was very disheartening. I need to get out there this afternoon and remove as much of the severely affected leaves as possible and spray the remaining leaves and hope the spider mites haven't spread too far and multiplied too fast to save the plants that look like they could still be productive this season.

Despite the spider mites and the extreme heat and drought this season I have had some of the best tomatoes I have ever eaten. I did not have the really huge ones that I sometimes get but did have a very good crop of large and extremely tasty fruits. The wife and I have put up almost as many tomatoes as we usually do and we have given away bushels to friends and family. I am not terribly upset with the situation but would like to keep a few plants alive for fresh eating until frost if it is at all possible. I hope to be able to remove all the older plants that have little hope now that they have had a return visit from our little friends and concentrate on trying to salvage some of the newer less damaged plants. This will also allow me to start getting some areas ready for fall planting earlier than usual and if the weather permits I might actually get some fall crops into the garden as early as I would like to but rarely get to do.

Bill
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