Summer is in full swing and the intense heat combined with the under-watering of certain plants, (like roses), are ideal conditions for Red Spider Mites (Tetranychus urticae). Also known as two-spotted spider mites, they are small arachnids related to spiders that cause damage to your plants
To identify them you will need to look out for white/yellowish spots/patches on their upper leaf surface. These spots multiply and the leaf becomes more yellow with the outer edges of the leaf staying greener. This is an indication of the increase in mites sucking on the underside of the leaves. Later leaves may drop off, and in severe cases, tiny web-like strands can be seen on the plant. Turn the leaf over and by using a magnifying glass you will notice a few, (or many), very tiny adult mites moving around. If in doubt, take a few sample leaves into your local GCA Garden Centre to identify the pest. Make sure that the sample is carefully sealed in a zip-lock bag.
What does this mean for me and my plants?
If the mite infestation isn’t too severe, you can keep them at bay by regular deep drenching and watering often. Use a thick mulch of peanut shells, pine needles, bark or crushed apricot pips to retain moisture in the soil for longer and help keep your plants cool in the hot Summer sun.
Spider mite populations can build up tremendous numbers and can decimate your plants in a very short time if the conditions are right and left untreated. Certain recommended oils are best used to spray on the underside of the leaves in order to suffocate the pest and these can be bought at your garden centre. Tip: Do not apply oil sprays in the heat of the day. For more tips and useful advice, visit your nearest GCA Garden Centre.