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Plantgasm - I love plants too much. By Derek Powazek.

Revenge of the Predatory Mites

predatory mitesA few months ago I was away on vacation and came home to a major spider mite infestation on my houseplants. The normal sprays and fastidious wiping wasn’t working, so I decided to try predatory mites. At first, I wasn’t sure it worked. But now that it’s been a few months with no sign of a relapse, I’m ready to say it: predatory mites work!

I purchased a small amount of Neoseiulus californicus from Amazon, but they’re widely available online and in some garden shops. They arrive in a small shaker. The mites are too small to see, so they’re interspersed in a fine sand.

Application was easy. I did it at night, as per the instructions. I just walked around the house with the shaker and a mister bottle filled with water. Every plant got a mist of water and then a tap of the shaker on to the leaves. That’s it. You can clean up the sand after a day or two, when the mites have moved on to the plant.

predatory mites applied

The predatory mites only eat other mites, not plants, so they’re no danger to you or your plants. And they don’t spin webs, so they don’t leave a trace like the spider mites. They’ll eat the spider mites, and when there are no more of them, they’ll eat each other. Eventually, there are no more mites.

My only caveat is that it doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, when I first wrote about them, I hadn’t given them enough time and was still unconvinced. But it’s now been months since the application and I can honestly say that there’s no evidence of a single spider mite in the house. I’m a believer.

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4 Responses

Wow, this is very cool!! I might just have to try this out. I wish I could find a beneficial insect that would eat mealy bugs and other scale insects without hurting the plant or seeing them.

“They’ll eat the spider mites, and when there are no more of them, they’ll eat each other.” – Yikes! LOL!

Amy

Posted by Amy (Get Busy Gardening) on 20 October 2011 @ 12pm

Thank you for posting about this. I have recurring problems with spider mites. This could be just what I need.

Posted by Andrew Ablenas on 20 October 2011 @ 1pm

this is so cool! i’ll have to check them out, too… what happens after the mites are gone, though?

Posted by Dirty Girl Gardening on 21 October 2011 @ 5pm

Wow! Given this new information, maybe I’ll be willing to give Ivy plants a try again. I had this huge gorgeous one but after a year of trying to get rid of the spider mites, I gave up on it and threw it out! Wish I’d known about these predatory mites sooner! That’s what I love about blogs like these — you always learn something new. Keep it up!

Posted by Anna de la Cruz, TORONTO, CANADA on 24 October 2011 @ 6am


Plantgasm

Plantgasm is where Derek Powazek chronicles his botanical antics and misadventures. More.