Spider Mites -- everywhere!

clickermel(z6a SW Ohio)March 23, 2006

This is my first year for getting serious about indoor plants -- I've always had a few (luckily, they thrived on neglect ), but I've graduated to a huge plant shelf, which is full, plus about 15 pots on the floor.

I'd noticed that a couple of them were failing to thrive, although I was watering carefully (when top inch of soil was dry) and thoroughly. The room is chilly at night (55-60 degrees) but during the day a space heater is used, so it can get warm and dry.

Then, more of my plants started to look ill. At first I thought the problem was low humidity, so I started misting and leaving lots of open containers of water around the plants. It was at this time that I noticed it -- webbing. Ugh. On most of the plants! It didn't take me long on Google to realize I had spider mites. On *all* my plants.

I have hauled all but one (huge) plant upstairs and into the bathroom, and they've all gotten a shower (getting the undersides of the leaves and the stems well); I'm going to repeat that in a couple of days and do it again in about a week.

However, this does not help with the huge thunbergina (sp?) vine with its own 8' trellis. There's no way to get that thing up the stairs, I don't have a sprayer on my sink, and it's too cold to do it outside. So far, I've continued misting (a couple of times a day) to increase humidity, as I know the mites don't like that, tried to keep the heat down more during the day, and have tried to use a paper towel soaked in water with a couple of drops of dishsoap to wipe off the bottoms of the leaves.

However, there are a LOT of leaves. And I can't get to all of the stems because they're wrapped around the trellis (and the plant shelf, and each other, and . . . )

So I have several questions. I've read a lot about different kind of homemade solutions, and want to try a mixture of rubbing alcohol and water (with a couple of drops of dishsoap). Will a 5:1 ratio of water to alcohol be enough, or does it need to be stronger? I know there are folks who think there are better solutions, and I'm all ears :) but rubbing alcohol is what I have on hand Right Now. It will be next week at the earliest before I would be able to pick up Neem Oil or insecticidal soap. (And if this or other suggested concoctions don't work, that's my next step.)

I've read somewhere on this forum that citrus peel can be a helpful additive to the mixture. How much, for your typical spray bottle? What does the peel do?

Is there a particular brand of dishsoap that you all prefer? I know it's only a couple of drops but if there's one that's preferred I can pick that up next week.

I've also read a recipe that called for steeping one clove of garlic in a half-liter of water for 24 hours and then spraying onto the plant. Would I add the two drops of dishsoap to that? Does anyone know what the garlic is supposed to do -- does it repel them or kill them? Has anyone had a plant that had a bad reaction to garlic?

I've also seen a recipe that used flour, milk, water, and dishsoap. Does that coat them so that they can't breathe? Will that go through a sprayer? Do you have to wipe it off the plant after it's been on for a certain amount of time?

Finally, how long can these little *^&$@s live without food (in case some dropped on the floor or whatever)? I understand this will likely be a long, ongoing battle, and I'm willing to fight it, but any and all guidance will be greatly appreciated.



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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Oooeeee! Don't use all of that at the same time! Can you imagine what your home will smell like? lol

You are bound to get all kinds of advice once folks jump in to help. Here are my thoughts.

First...simplify. Give major hair cuts to those plants that can tolerate it and will likely thrive for the pruning. Toss those that are sure magnets for mites (like your thunbergeria) and start anew when the mites are under control. Avoid over crowding. More is not better, when it comes to plants...especially when they are under attack. Sometimes thinning out the population is a very good solution.

I like alcohol and water sprays because they are effective, safe for you, and tolerated well by MOST (not all) plants. I use a ratio of 1:3 (alcohol to water) in a spray bottle. Avoid wiping and washing techniques, as those may actually help spread mites. I've known many people who use an even stronger alcohol mix than that.

Personally, I avoid dish detergent completely. The chemicals in said products are harsher on plants (and your own skin) than rubbing alcohol. I have no ordinary dish detergent in my home. I am on the other side of the fence in that regard, though.

Use your common sense about the flour, milk, etc. Please. Think about it.....

I have not used the neem myself but am quite convinced that it should be a part of your long term solution to this problem. I've used Grape Fruit Seed Extract with success, too.

Most importantly. Heed this advice if nothing else. A major outbreak like this is entirely preventable. By isolating and treating each new plant before introducing it to the others is critical. Establish a vigorous management routine if you take your plants out in the summer. Since mine stay inside at all times, I never have a pest issue.

Don't use every remedy that you hear about and don't use more than one at any time. Plant tissues are somewhat sensitive, and don't tolerate repeated assaults with harsh products. Be conservative! For example, I probably wouldn't use the alcohol mists (under the leaves, remember) more than twice a week. But I wouldn't hesitate to spray them for the rest of their lives, if that's what it took to keep an infestation at bay. Wouldn't hurt the plant.

I like your determination! Let me know if you have any other questions.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2006 at 12:27PM
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canttype(0b (Cold North))

Oh My Mel..... sounds like you have a mess on your hands!!

The good news is that you don't have to worry about them spreading to all of your other plants;-)

You are going to need the help of an insecticidal spray, like Safers. Follow the instructions on the bottle! I'd not want to trust a home made potion when that many plants are involved! Wash the walls and shelves down (just with regular cleaners)around your plant growing areas to get rid of any stray mites that might be lingering. (it's spring cleaning time anyway ...right?)

If you can't get to the store right away, I'd go ahead with the alchol/water/dish soap mix. The proportions you listed would be just fine but I think you'd want to spray daily.(under sides of leaves too) Don't use anti-bacterial soaps! These types of dish soaps kill plants. (and make me wonder if they are any good for people to be using?)

Neem oil, garlic, lemon peels..... I've personally never used these things and can't advise you. I use grapefruit seed extract as a preventitive measure but haven't had the need to use it as a treatment and with so many plants ill... Safers would be the way to go. Then after they are mite free, you might want to try something in your misting water to prevent future attacks!

It's going to take you a good month or so to rid yourself of mites. several treatments of safers in required, several weeks apart.

Good luck with your babes and come back and let us know how it's going!


    Bookmark   March 24, 2006 at 12:32PM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

You guys will be not happy with me - but I would go for chemicals again.

Thing is that mites and insects need different treatment to eradicate - so the most effective thing would be to go to the garden center and ask for the mite treatment - acaricide. I would say - kelthane. AVID is better - but it is waay too expensive. And spray plants 3 times week apart.

I had a beautiful peach color brugmansia - and it was quite big - I was hauling it to the yard and back about every 3 weeks to spray, wash, hose - you name it - and it just took 3 weeks for the mites to repopulate it over and over again. I was so frustrated that one day I just sent it to a compost pile. Would I stop playing with these homemade recipes - and do it right one time (OK - 3 times) - i would save it. but no more brugmansias for me - looks like they attract mites from 10 miles around.


    Bookmark   March 24, 2006 at 2:17PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

You absolutely must not use those chemicals inside. It is irresponsible for anyone to suggest chemicals for indoor houseplants that must never be used in that way.

Kelthane is one of a very long list of chemical pesticides that almost cannot be used safely under any circumstances, and continue to be abused by the typical homeowner. It is highly hazardous.

Avid is labeled for commercial use only and I had thought that Kelthane was yanked off the market (for the second or third time), but perhaps it is back in there again.

Please, don't consider using chemicals such as these for your spider mite problem. I'll be most happy to lead you to the research that will help you understand clearly why not!

Best of luck!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2006 at 2:54PM
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clickermel(z6a SW Ohio)

Thanks for the tips, everybody!

LOL Rhizo -- I wasn't going to use all of them at once! I was wondering what success folks had had with any of them and what made them work, and if the recipes sounded sufficient. I was going to try one and see if it worked, and if not, try another.

I'd like to avoid chemicals since there are 3 dogs and 2 cats in the house, and the windows are pretty closed up with plastic from the winter. Plus, I'm a non-chem kind of gal unless it's absolutely necessary :).

As far as insecticidal soap, is that a chemical? (I do believe rubbing alcohol is also a chemical, but I will put my dogs out when I spray it!) Are there any health risks to pets? (The room where my plants are is a small one.)

So I've given all the plants a bath, most of them twice, some of them three times. I've given several of them a haircut -- and I'm going to give additional ones :).

I was so frustrated today -- I have sprayed my gardenia and miniature rose every day, well, for the last 3 days in the tub (we have one of those shower head wand thingies, so that makes it easier) -- and I did the paper test and STILL a couple of mites fell off onto the paper. Not many -- just a couple -- but grrrrrr. I don't know if they are ones I missed with the water or eggs that hatched, but they got yet another shower.

I have only used the alcohol solution so far, and only on the thunbergina. (I can't bear to get rid of it; it's so lovely and getting so big!) I did dispose of a couple of plants that were toast, but anything that looks salvageable I'm going to give a shot.

Canttype, what kind of GSE solution do you use, and how do you use it as a preventative? What other preventative stuff could be used as a spray? (If I get rid of them . . . hahahaheeheeheehoooo)

Rhizo, I will avoid the flour and milk recipe . . . sounded kind of difficult to apply, anyway!

For those of you that use the dishsoap, is there a particular brand you prefer? We don't use *anything* labeled 'antibacterial' in the house; that stuff is just trouble and we don't want to help create any more super-bugs.

I've washed the shelves and vacummed the floor around where the plants were (they have now completely taken over my bathroom). How long do these things live when they are not on plants?

If I am spraying plants in the tub and mites fall off of the lower part of the stem into the soil (can't always spray so everything would fall out of the pot), will they drown or just crawl back up like the itsy-bitsy spider?

Finally, after using the 5:1 water/alcohol spray on the thunbergina today, I did a couple of paper tests but nothing moved. I did though see some tiny black spots still on the leaves - I guess they don't fall off when they die? How well can they hold on when they're alive?

I hate these things. Ugh.

THANKS everyone!

:-) Mel

    Bookmark   March 24, 2006 at 7:18PM
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Mel, of course you can spray w/your favorite chemial/non-chemical substance, but this works for me. I use 2 drops of dishsoap, (whatever I have on hand, but no anti-bacaterial type) ground garlic and citrus rind. I apply all in a mister and spray away, 2-3 times per wk.
Because my mister clogged w/the rind, I'm now using citrus juice. I buy those little limes/lemons in the store for.70 and add about 1/2 teas per mister. I don't measure which I know isn't helpful..When I used the citrus rind, I probably used 1/4 teas..and instead of chopping the garlic, let a clove sit at least 24 hours in water.
Before adding this concoction, I'd spray my plants w/plain water. Since you do not have a sprayer on the first floor sink, mist w/a new sprayer..
You asked the reason citrus rind and garlic work. I cannot answer that question. LOL. 2 or 3 yrs ago I started using it, then one day while browsing for garden supplies, I saw an insecticide w/citrus rind included..thought that funny.
Maybe it's the scent that repels them, but I doubt it'll kill bugs. Then again who knows.
A few wks back I got a plant in the mail that had mealy..I used this brew and all mealy are gone. and in my opinion, mealy are a lot more difficult to rid then mites.
I credit you for showering all your plants..that had to be some job. Whatever you decide, I wish you luck, Toni

    Bookmark   March 24, 2006 at 10:00PM
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Wow, I admire all the effort you're putting into this. Spider Mites are always around and a pain in the butt, but at least they're not the toughest pests to deal with. They do multiply very rapidly so I can't blame you for working quickly. There is some great advice up above and I don't really have much to add except for a small suggestion. For larger plants that you can't lug into the shower like the smaller ones, you can create a sauna for them instead. If you are able to get your hands on a large plastic bag - maybe your local dry cleaner would contribute a couple - you can cover your larger plant with the plastic bag after you have sprayed it with your preferred treatment. The spray and the sauna effect will provide one heck of an unbearable atmosphere for those little buggers...

    Bookmark   March 25, 2006 at 9:20AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

As far as using alcohol....there are no health risks as long as everyone isn't breathing in the vapor as you spray. Once it's where it's supposed to be it is safe, and of course, it evaporates to nothing. You will find isopropyl alcohol in a huge number of solutions in your bathroom cabinet...from cleansers to emollients. Safe for the skin of infants and adults....and plants!

The insecticidal soaps are a highly refined SOAP product. No chemical insecticide added. They are formulated in such a way that they have a super drying effect on the insects...much more so than dish soap. The benefit is that these products have no additives that might harm your plants. So....they work better on the critters, but safer for the plant! No brainer. When I use insecticidal soaps, I always wear disposable gloves because it will dry your hands. But I consider it safe to use. If anyone is a barometer for chemicals, it is I!!!

Again, any question....email me. I'm rootin for you!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2006 at 12:27PM
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clickermel(z6a SW Ohio)

Thanks, everyone! The thunbergina seems to be showing no ill effects for the 5:1 water/alcohol solution, so I think I'll do it again in a couple of days. I have *got* to get some of these plants back out of my bathroom (they have taken it over; you almost can't move in there! [g]) so for plants that are passing the paper test, I'll move back into the sunroom and give them dose of the solution every 3 days for a while.

Toni, thanks for the citrus/garlic/water solution recipe. Would you suggest I use that as a preventative after I get rid of the mites, or can/should it be used in conjunction with the alcohol solution? Do you have to mix it fresh every time or can you let it sit and continue to use for a while?

You note to spray or mist them first before using the garlic concoction. Do you mean spray off existing mites, or is there a different reason to mist with plain water first?

Rhizo, if I don't see some quick improvement with these remedies, I'll go with the insecticidal soap. Is there a preferred brand? I think next time I go to Lowe's I will pick some up just to make sure I have it on hand.

Naturelover, I like the bag/sauna idea. A dry cleaning bag is not big enough, believe it or not! This thing is like 8 feet tall. (One tendril has already outgrown the trellis and is trying to figure out where to go next [g]) Any suggestions on something I could use that's bigger than a dry-cleaning bag?

Plants that are doing really well and are passing the paper test so far are my amaryllises, my african violet, and succulents/cacti. (I didn't give the violet a shower -- wiped off the leaves instead -- and the cacti only got a very brief one, and they seem to be mite-free. Don't know if they never were hosts, or if the population was small enough that they were easily wiped out.) Are these not attractive to mites?

They seem to be worst on my gardenia, miniature rose, jasmine, and thunbergina and moonflower vines. The marigolds are long gone -- they must be a favorite, as that was where they were the worst.

There was a small to medium population on my parsley, oregano, verbena bonaresis, lantana, tropical milkweed, and lily (maybe a rain lily; I have no idea what kind it is). These plants must be of medium tastiness to these critters.

Interestingly enough, the umbrella plant -- which sits about 10' away from the plant stand and -- seems to be mite-free. (I haven't lugged that big boy upstairs for a shower yet, although I'm going to do it soon as a preventative measure.)

Thanks again for all the helpful tips and encouragement -- I *will* win this battle! (Even if the S.O. thinks I'm nuts! [g])

:-) Mel

    Bookmark   March 25, 2006 at 5:47PM
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Mel, ah, mini roses and marigolds are magnets to mites..I wouldn't doubt either plant was the mite culpret. I have NEVER had a mini rose or dwarf marigold, grown indoors that didn't get mites..I'd best one or the other are/were the hosts.
Herbs are another plant that attract mites..U see, it's the type of plants you're growing..NOT YOU>> (S)

I meant to say, if you use my brew, add garlic the night before you're going to spray so it soaks in the water. I used to chop garlic small but between the garlic and citrus rind, they'd clog my mister. I'd spend an hour w/a needle trying to unclug this stuff..
Yep, you can leave all ingredients in the sprayer, just shake before you're going to use.

The reason I don't spray alcohol on my leaves is because I've read one too many posts where ppl sprayed their entire plant w/rubbing alcohol and the leaves dried out..This may be coincidence, so for those who were successful using RA, I'm not trying to down your method..What works for one may not work for others..I only use the alcohol when mealy bug are present and that's done w/a cotton ball or swab.
Mel, maybe you should use one type of home made brew at a time..You don't want to overdo it, even though everything is natural..even natural ingredients can be too much,,,u know what they say about moderation..

The reason I say to shower first is, many ppl vow a simple shower is enough to rid mites..I've never had such luck, but I agree it's best to hose off, and flush those suckers down the drain.
Mites are NOT the worse pest, but they breed like rabbits..or moreso.

Anyway, I don't know if using the RA and my concoction at the same time is a good idea; maybe someone here can answer..
BTW, I hope since caring for your plants, you've at least noticed a decrease in mites..Toni

    Bookmark   March 26, 2006 at 9:03AM
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canttype(0b (Cold North))

Hi Mel,

The grapefruit seed extract is a brand called Proseed and is a liquid concentrate. I bought it at a health food store about 5 years ago and I only use it on my plants.(although in has 101 different uses) I use 3 or 4 drops in a pint mister with 1 or 2 drops of dish soap. I mist my plants almost every day so they get treated almost every day. I've just got in the habbit of adding it to every bottle.....

You do seem to be growing alot of "MITE Magnets" so you should be trying to mist them (whether they have mites or not) every day,as well as pebble trays, humidifier....anything to try to keep the humidity up will help keep Mites at bay! Don't forget to get the undersides of the leaves!!!


    Bookmark   March 27, 2006 at 11:36AM
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irina_co(z5 CO)


what do you think about NEEM oil? It is supposed to be an oil from some Indian tree which is not toxic to humans and pets - and a moderate strength insecticide/acaricide/ fungicide. Sounds like it is possible to spray the plant without lugging it upstairs.

I am trying to do all my spraying outside on a patio out of sun and wind and wait until the plants are dry before taking them in.

And yes - undersides of older leaves - that's where they are.

Good luck


PS I am apologizing for raising the chemical controversy again - but if you have a collection of african violets of 300 plants and you have mite infestation - there is no magic soap solution - you either go for AVID - with all kinds of protection, face mask, do it in a basement - or you can chuck all of them now.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2006 at 3:17PM
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Irina, I wouldn't be too hasty ridding plants..I've over 400 plants, and when a pest comes in with a bug, I panic, but because of my birds, I cannot use any strong sprays..(this includes cleaning aids)
2 months ago I got a plant that had mealy and white fly. I wouldn't/couldn't use anything harsh, so I used my brew and now all signs of bugs are gone..I wouldn't give up so fast..Toni

    Bookmark   March 27, 2006 at 8:20PM
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Mel, I guess your plants are very big! I can't - off the top of my head - think of another type of bag (for larger size) that could be handy. You can consider just sticking two or three dry cleaning plastic bags together, maybe? Anyhow, if you can do it, it works well. I've used the sauna technique a couple of times and it helps.

For the spider mites, I would agree with Toni on 'not giving up that easily'. Toni has hundreds of plants and she seems to keep those bugs pretty much under control without chemicals. Where's there's a will...

    Bookmark   March 27, 2006 at 9:43PM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

Toni and Naturelover -

sorry for being such a pain - but AV collection - is a monoculture - and we usually get not the spider mites - but cyclamen and broad mites - you cannot see them - they are 100-200 mkm, you need 30X magnification to see them - what you see - is your plants die from the center. And your fellow violeteers start avoiding you as a plague - because these pests can travel on your clothes.


    Bookmark   March 28, 2006 at 1:59PM
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I understand Irina. No, you're not a pain. There is a tremendous difference between spider mites and cyclamen mites though... Spider Mites are not that difficult to get rid of. Mind you, they multiply incredibly fast and they're an extremely common pest, but for the most part they're not too good at hanging on.... Even a quick spray of water gets rid of a bulk of them. So I understand what you're saying and what a huge problem a terrible infestation would be if not dealt with on time or properly.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2006 at 2:46PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Irina...neem is recommended for the control of cyclamen mites in AVs and other plants. Might be a worthy solution to the dangerous pesticides. Neem works in a variety of different ways. Thinking about giving it a try?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2006 at 3:16PM
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Irena, you aren't a pain, so get that out of your head..(S) Please don't think that we think you are..You're expressing your opinion and that's what this forum is about..so never think anything you say is unacceptable.

I've never dwelt w/cyclamen mites..what are the signs? Do they build webbs? They sound awful. I've a cyclamen and now I'm worried..LOL..especially the way you've described them.
The common mite is a pain, but as Nature said, most of the time a good shower will rid most mites. They can kill a plant and are contageous. So, they're nothing to play with..the thing is to rid them as soon as you notice they're livign on a plant.

I've heard different stories about Neem..Most ppl swear it's great, some say it killed their plants. The problem is, some ppl do not read instructions and end up killing their plants by overuse. I've seen this in many cases..But any chemical/substance that's overused will kill plants..like ppl who overfeed..they think if they add a little more here and there, their plants will grow like Jack and the Beanstalk..Uh uh..on the contrary..they end up burning the roots of their plants.
So, my point is never abuse a substance..Toni

    Bookmark   March 28, 2006 at 4:52PM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

I think neem is for control, not for eradication. Means it is not too poisonous. So you can spray from time to time to reduce fungus gnats, thrips, prevent powdery mildew or cut it short in a very beginning.

Cyclamen mites attack gesneriads - cyclamen plants tolerate and resist them OK, AVs - just die out. Usually if you get to the nursery department of Lowe's or Home Depot and see Cyclamens and african violets sitting nearby - the violets are doomed. The center becomes tight, greyish, young leaves curl and die and the whole plant declines and dies - because these mites suck the juice and inject whatever - let's say digestive juices - which poison the plant. Outside - strawberries suffer from cyclamen mites. Leaves become gnarled, berries dry - so that why they use serious miticides to control them.


    Bookmark   March 29, 2006 at 4:07PM
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hey all. ive just begun an assualt on a mite colony that has taken over my girlfriend's rose plant. in addition to all of the remedies posted here, I have found some on the net that mention introducing ladybugs onto the plant. I was wondering of anyone here know what kinds of results I may get by bringing in some hired guns like ladybugs. The plant is rather small but has been weakened pretty bad by the mites so I would avoid chemicals if possible. Thanks guys!


    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 5:38PM
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Dan, roses are magnets to mites. I won't even bring one in the house; I've given up.
Until you can get your hands on ladybugs, for now I'd hose the rose, daily..add a couple drops of dishsoap. If the rose has aluminum foil around the pot, like most rosed do when sold at stores, remove it immediately.
I had a houseful of ladybugs one yr..they came in on their own, I didn't buy the eggs..lol..They hung around plants, and I never saw a pest, though I have to say I really don't have pest problems. But if one existed, those little girls would have devoured them..Toni

    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 5:55PM
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Thanks for the reply Toni. For whatever reason, we get ladybugs throughout the house every year...we must just be popular. The rose plant is pretty small and I have to keep it inside on account of winter starting to set in. I'll spray it good with dishsoap spiked water daily and see how many ladybugs i can round up.

I found a neat tip on another website that suggested spraying soda on the ladybugs to make their wings sticky so that they cannot fly away from the infested plant. At first it seemed kinda mean, but then i figured i am putting them on a nicely stocked spider-mite buffet so it cant be all bad for them.

I'll try it all out and post the results here. till then...


    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 9:32PM
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Breakfast at Dans..LOL..well, in one way it does sound cruel, spraying soda pop on a ladybug, lol..I like LB's wheras spiders can be sprayed w/RAid..Don't like them, no matter how beneficial they're supposed to be.
Yes, please let us know how it works out.
Amazing how LB's find our homes, huh? Toni

    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 11:19PM
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Hi everyone. A spider mite infestation was discovered on my sister's plant about two weeks ago. We have since gotten rid of the plant, but apparently they had spread around the area where the plant used to be (around my sister's desk). I've moved all the nearby plants away, but my sister keeps discovering spider mites crawling around her desk, and eventually I started finding those mites crawling around my area as well (we work in the same room).

We've been cleaning and vacuuming every day since we discovered the spider mites. We've kept their population in check this way, but every day we always find a few more of those little buggers.

The worse thing is, they've spread throughout the house (I think from hitching a ride on our clothing or something). We've been cleaning and vacuuming everyday but a few always escape our attack.

My question is, are there any other methods we can try to get rid of these pests once and for all? I've been doing a lot of research lately and all the methods I've read for controlling spider mite infestations are used by applying to affected plants only. But is there anything for home infestations?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 12:56AM
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Mentha(9 CA)

A suggestion for the plastic bag is a drop cloth used for painting, they come in 3-6 mil strength and anywhere from 10-25 ft wide and long. You can get one in the painting section at Walmart or any home improvement.

I use 50/50 water alcohol on most of my plant, only because I don't have patience to treat my plants continually, and if you can find it use ivory soap, you don't want detergent. They also sell ivory soap flakes, about a tablespoon flakes to a quart squirt bottle. Ivory is also a good shampoo for killing fleas, I learned that working in a dog grooming shop :)

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 2:49AM
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Mentha, are you referring to Ivory Flakes used to wash clothes?

Mandy, you have the worse case of mites I'd ever heard..all over your house? Are you sure they're not dust mites? Do you see webbing on your plants? Is that how you discovered them? Toni

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 4:12PM
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I'm pretty sure they're not dust mites, but thanks for making sure. At first I wasn't sure what kind of bugs they are, but after a lot of research spider mites seem the most likely answer (plus they resemble the pictures I've seen).

My sister told me that she discovered it when she noticed tiny bugs crawling around one of the plants near her desk. When she looked in the pot she saw eggs, but I'm not sure if she saw any webbing. She's gotten rid of the plant, but by then the bugs have already spread around the area, and I guess they've been spreading via our clothes or other items.

There are some questions I do have regarding the identity of the bugs though. Although they were first discovered thriving around a plant and their appearance closely resemble spider mites, are spider mites known to bite humans? While I'm cleaning around an area with these bugs I always find new bites on my legs and arms, resulting in itchy bumps (sometimes I find them crawling on my clothes or my hand, although I don't seem to feel them). Also, do spider mites need plants around which to lay their eggs? Although we've moved our plants to safe places they still seem to reproduce in areas without plants.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 7:45PM
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Mandy, I'm not 100% certain, but it sure sounds like dust mites..we had a problem with dust mites several yrs ago. As far as I know, spider mites don't bite humans..And they don't cluster like you're descrbing.
Of course, nothing is impossible, but it sounds odd.
Dust mites attach to clothing, bedding, and human skin. We had a real problem..had little bites like you're talking about..we had to get strong medication, that's not even sold in U.S. anymore..
Maybe someone has experienced what you're describing w/spider mites...If you do have dust mites, start taking action..they will rule your nest..You wouldn't believe the problems we had..I had to wash everything in hot water..vacuum daily and toss out bags..we used sprays, everything..They are little red bite marks that itch more at night..does this sound familiar? Toni

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 8:13PM
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Yes, I'm going through exactly what you're describing, unfortunately. But I was under the impression that they were invisible to the unaided eye...these bugs I'm seeing are definitely visible and look like spider mites instead of the pictures of dust mites that I've seen.

I'm definitely cleaning and vacuuming everyday, but what other methods would you recommend to battle this infestation, assuming that it's dust mites we're dealing with?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 8:52PM
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Mandy, I went to a couple sites..One www.familydoctor.org said dust mites are 1/100" long...smaller than a period... Anohter site I visited said they're too small to see. Microscopic. Whether visable or not, it's a problem..check out the site I posted. It explains things to do and use. They even discuss which rooms to start w/like the bedroom, and a favorite place u sit. Washing clothes w/130 degree water. I hope you don't have dust mites, cause they're really a pain to rid..
Mandy, do these things itch? especially at night? Toni

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 9:08PM
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I'll definitely go through those methods just in case, I also hope they're not dust mites.

The bites do itch, however I don't feel a difference between the level of itching during the day and at night. They're also longer-lasting than bug bites I've had in the past....the bites I've gotten two weeks ago are still there (however the level of itching for old bites is slowly diminishing). I've been looking for bugs on my bed every night for the past few days before I go to sleep and that seems to help because I don't find new bites when I wake up in the morning anymore. Now I mostly earn new bites while cleaning areas with the bugs.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 12:44PM
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nanw_4wi(4/SW WI)

Wow...I've just read this thread for the first time.
What a dilemma!

It does sound as though your plants have spider mites, but it also sounds, to me, as though you might possibly have an infestation of 'Bed Bugs' in your home.

I had heard last year that they're becoming much more prevalent than they'd been in past years.

Here's a link with information, descriptions, photos, etc..

Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Bed Bugs

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 1:05PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Spider mites do NOT bite people.

Mandy, are these little critters fairly easy to see as they crawl around on your desk? You DO, understand, don't you, how small spider mites are? And their eggs?

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 1:18PM
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Nan, bed bugs are another possiblity, but they're pretty big. They look like pumpkin seeds..LOL.
I hope poor Mandy doesn't have dust mites either, but I think w/some work, lots of vacumming, cleaning clothing, etc, she'll rid them..It sounds like she's eliminated quite a few already..Toni

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 1:26PM
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I've definitely considered the possibility of bed bugs, but I had thoroughly went through my bedroom and was quite relieved to find no evidence of them.

These bugs that I see are quite tiny, but you can definitely see them when you're looking for them or when they're crawling in front of you. They're usually brownish...the biggest ones I've seen are slightly larger than the size of a period. Like I've mentioned earlier, these bugs look like spider mites (my sister first discovered them infesting her plant). However I am stumped by the fact that I'm getting so many bites if spider mites aren't known to bite humans.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 1:43PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

There are other mites. Pets can bring little mities in from the outside, birds can have biting mities, and micies can have biting mities. ;-)

If you have bed bugs, you'd probably see specks of blood on your bed springs and sheets. Do a google on 'bed bugs' and see if any of the descriptions ring a bell with what is happening to you at night. I happen to think that it's probably the mites.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mite information

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 3:41PM
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Mandy, did mice get into your house this winter? Look for rodent feces under and behind cabinets, stove, fridge. Toni

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 4:08PM
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No animals have ever been in our house, and that includes mice.

I think it's the mites that are biting me too...I rarely get bug bites, with the exception of a few mosquito bites during the summer, until recently when we discovered this problem.

So far I've been vacuuming everyday and that seems to be keeping their number down, however being as tiny as they are it's difficult to find all of them at once. I would be highly interested in methods to trap them or kill them with safe pesticides, but so far I can't seem to find such solutions (especially for inside the home).

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 7:27PM
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roflol(Z6 MO)

Mandy, I wish I could help you - any pictures of the varmints?

I came to this thread because I do have spider mites on many houseplants I bought in early winter from big box stores during distressed sales, and I've been fighting spider mites for the past few months. I'll be honest - they're all in a room where sometimes they are forgotten for a week or more at a time so they get dry and stressed, and the mites don't get noticed sometimes until they've gotten down and dirty. But when I have found them and use the spray I bought (can't recall the name, got it at WalMart, in a green bottle) really well and wipe the leaves down, it keeps them off for a while. Then they show up on another plant.

I'm just tired of fighting the spider mites - already have enough on my plate (2 toddlers, I work, I'm not the best organized, and we got a bit flooded in the recent rains, so I'm in "purge" mode) and want to know your thoughts on my choices:

First off, is there such a thing as a total cure, as in they're not coming back? Or will this be a constant battle now that they're here? I don't remember my mom ever having spider mites with her plants, but she didn't have a lot of plants either (maybe this is why).

Can I give them a good treatment with the spray and offer them on freecycle to anybody who would want to try to rehab them (with full disclosure of what they might be taking in), or is that just giving the mites the opportunity to infect somebody else's stuff... and therefore I should just toss what I have in the trash and save everybody the trouble? I know I will be giving the heave-ho to some fancy ivies (two kinds of "King's Choice" and "Gold Baby" which I thought were pretty but look a little bit ratty now), two earth star plants (just had pups), a Janet Craig dracaena that is in very good shape, a Pilea (Moon Valley) that looks awful but not because of mites (I just don't know what to do with it - I think it needs pinching and re-rooting but I'm never good at that so it's got legs a mile long and a few leaves at the top), a couple of diffenbachia (no mites), and maybe some more if I can make myself let go of them (corn plant that has a lot of mites on it (getting treated tomorrow), couple of little dracaena marginata, another spotted dracaena I brought back from near death, and my three red sister ti's in a pot but I don't think I can give them up... yet.

Thanks in advance for your input.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 2:11AM
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Terry, it's possible to rid spider mites, entirely, but that doesn't mean they won't return if conditions are unfavorable.
Mites, like other pests, come about when soil is constantly moist, air is dry, and room stuffy..
To start if possible, open a window..
Though it's going to take work, and it sounds like you're a busy woman, you'll need to put effort into ridding those darn bugs.
Maybe your kids can help.
Is there a way you can bring each plant to the sink/shower and hose off? That'd be a great start.
I don't use chemical insecitcides..I make my own, so far they work.
I make a batch using 2-4 drops of dishsoap, ground citrus peel, garlic, and a capful of Listerine (mouthwash is something I've recently started using) Set all in a mister, spray daily..Make sure mist aims every part of plant. If you see clusters of mites, use a paper towel, wipe away before spraying. For each cluster use clean sheets.
I also spray w/Fish Emuslion, but mostly to prevent scale. This might work to rid mites, but not sure on that point.
If possible, placing plants outside in works, but of course by doing this other pests can attack plants..About 3-4 yrs ago, all plants on my front porch got at attack of white fly..after searching for the source, I found they came from a hardy Hydangea growing out front..Now when I take plants outside, I spray w/my concoction, including the hydragea, so far no problems.
Mites seem to find their way to our plants moreso in winter. I believe dry heat is the culprit. This is why it's important keeping a humidifer running while heat is on.
So, yes, you can rid mites, but again, keep your room humid and airy...so they stay away.

Mandy, have you found info online? I did a search for you, came up w/a few articles on chemcials sold for mites..Just type in mites or dust mites in your search engine, you'll see tons of info. Toni

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 2:48PM
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I recommend you drown them. Fill a tub with 90 degree water. Wrap towels, rags whatever around the pots and soil surface ( This keeps from making a mess, then sink the pots into the water till nothing of the plant shows. Leave them in there one hour. The hot water means that the eggs will be penetrated and killed. All stages of the spider mites will be drowned. Sterilize your plant room with bleach and alcohol. Sprinkle powdered sulphur into cracks and things. Keep an eye out for any reinfestation.Some people say to use cold water. NOT SO. HOT, so the eggs die.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 1:11PM
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