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Spider Mites - Seriously??

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Project by Mark posted 06-05-2011 05:15 PM 3370 views 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Last summer was brutal by me in NJ… Almost zero rain, and non-stop heat in the upper nineties and occasionally above 100-degrees. I had a line of arborvitaes that had been growing beautifully for about 8-9 years. These got hit really hard, and I never saw it coming.

I thought they were so well established – there was nothing to worry about, but I was very wrong!

My trees started showing signs of distress, and then they started to die. What I thought was particularly weird was that several were adjacent. I casually mentioned this to a landscaper friend of mine at a party, and he said he’d seen entire rows of arborvitaes lost to spider mites in the previous couple of weeks. I think I responded… “Uh, what?”

He told me about a white paper test to try: spider mites are almost too small to see, and apparently they can wreak havoc in prolonged intervals of extreme heat with minimal rain. I hadn’t heard about this before. You go to one of your trees with a sheet of clean white paper and shake the tree above the sheet. Then you study it closely in bright light. What’s immediately obvious are small pieces of pant material, but upon closer inspection you’ll see some very small bugs. These aren’t the mites – they’re just bugs. ;-) You have to look even closer—the tiniest black specks you can see (and what you may think is part of the paper initially)... focus on these. Find two or three, and see if they start to move. If so—likely spider mites.

Now, I didn’t research this thoroughly – but I had moving black specks… so I ran right out to the hardware store and consulted on the best treatment. Naturally, I came home with expensive chemicals – and started spraying the line of trees. I sprayed again after a couple of days, and then I waited. A few more died over the next 2 weeks or so, and then it stopped. I lost 9 out of 23.

I ripped the dead trees out with my truck and a 12-foot chain (which, I have to say, was fun) – and then in the fall, I planted replacements. I definitely won’t get hit with this surprise again. And I thought I’d post this here in case some of you hadn’t heard of this possibility either – or in case you could add more experiences or correct anything I said that might not be 100% correct.

Because summer is well on its way again…

-- Mark, Jersey Shore, http://www.all-about-the-house.com



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Mark

28 posts in 2481 days
hardiness zone 7a

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4 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14694 posts in 3880 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 06-06-2011 05:17 AM

9 – that’s a hard loss.
(The other day I watched the new neighbour pull out two trees in his yard. He and “the boys” seemed to be having a lot of fun as well.)

I never knew about the mites issue either. Good to know. Thanks for sharing this info/story with us.

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View jroot's profile

jroot

5121 posts in 3510 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 06-06-2011 07:38 AM

Brugmansia plant are quite susceptible to spider mites. They don’t like moisture, even though they explode in population during hot humid weather. For the past few years, I’ve been watering the leaves early in the morning when I water the plants, and have had no mites of which I am aware. Previously, I had had quite a bit of damage by the @#$$% mites, but not as devastating as Mark had.

Best of luck this year.

-- jroot ....... Southern Ontario .......... grow zone 5A ...................."Gardening is an exercise in optimism." ....... . . Author Unknown

View Mark's profile

Mark

28 posts in 2481 days
hardiness zone 7a

posted 06-07-2011 02:29 PM

Thanks, guys -

It’s interesting… after I read up on this a little bit, I came to the same advice that jroot is offering above. Watering the leaves (with a bit of pressure) can knock the mites off the plants. They have soft bodies and no wings – so it sounds like this can be a very effective measure if done preventatively. Will definitely be doing this once a week or so.

-- Mark, Jersey Shore, http://www.all-about-the-house.com

View Weedwacker's profile

Weedwacker

297 posts in 2807 days

posted 06-10-2011 09:17 PM

Spider mites are a huge problem out here in Oregon. Cedars of all types even ancient ones will go down to that little pest. You can spray, but out here it’s something you need to do constantly. Kind of like fleas on a dog, it’s tough to kill all the mites. Usually the whole hedge is removed the ground cleaned up and then you start all over again. So I wish you luck that some of the little buggers are not alive and well in the remaining trees.

These guys will get into evergreen forests out here and just eat their way through the whole thing, nothing left but brown needles on the trees in a few years. Got big appetites for such a little bugger.

-- Margaret, Eagle Creek, Oregon. A garden is never finished.

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