Spider mites on weed can be very daunting. Imagine, all your hard work after many weeks only to find out that small mite-like creatures are slowly eating your plants! What do you do? How do you remove them? Can you still smoke your weed even with mites on them?
Sadly, this happens even to the most prudent growers. Spider mites and other pests can attack even if you protect your plants indoors. But of course, there are fewer chances for plants to catch pests when these are grown indoors compared to outdoor growing.
What are Spider Mites?
Spider mites are members of the mite species. These are called spider mites because these are related to spiders. These are also very common cannabis and plant pests and are usually very hard to get rid of. Spider mites have very sharp teeth that can bite and suck out the juices of cannabis plants. They most especially attack the leaves underside because these are the most succulent parts.
The problem with spider mites is that these are so small, it’s hard to detect their presence. You may be very diligent, checking and rechecking your plants daily for spider mites only to find out the next day that they have completely devoured your plants!
Spider mites are so small that these can instantly hide and create a huge infestation before you can even notice! Sometimes, growers mistake spider mite infestation for a nutrient deficiency because the way these pests destroy your leaves.
Spider Mite Size
Spider mites are very small creatures and this is why they go unnoticed. It’s only when they have managed to multiply and cause massive havoc that they are noticed by growers. An adult spider mite is as small as a dot. Male mites are around 1/50th of an inch or .5mm long while females are smaller at just 1/64th or .4mm long. The only way to see a spider mite up close is under a microscope. This pest has four pairs of legs, an oval body, and has no antennae. Spider mites attack in small numbers to large groups although an only mite may also eat to its fill. Usually, leaves that have been attacked by a group of spider mites die early.
Why Do Spider Mites Love Cannabis Plants?
Spider mites are pests to different kinds of plants but are most especially fond of cannabis. Why is this so? The reason could be lying underneath each leaf. Spider mites love the soft yet crunchy undersides of cannabis leaves possibly because of the rich cannabinoids and terpenes. If you don’t find mites on top of the leaves, you’ll be able to spot them on the underside of the leaves munching contentedly.
What are Plant Parts that Spider Mites Love to Eat?
The leaf underside is the most favorite part for spider mites however, this pest has a voracious appetite that these can also devour new stems and even the buds.
You may not be able to visibly check for spider mites but you know they’re around because of the presence of fine webbing that covers your plants. The web was produced by hundreds upon hundreds of mites and will cover the leaves, stems, branches, and buds. It’s hard to get rid of the web and sadly, plants that are covered with the web will not be fit for consumption anymore.
How to Spot Spider Mites?
There’s no way to tell if you have spider mites on your plants early on. Usually, the infestation is worse by the time you see some signs. Here are some common spider mite signs.
- The presence of minuscule, flat mites along the underside of the leaf. Use a magnifying glass; you can tell that these are not spots but are spider mites because they are moving!
- The presence of spider mite eggs. These are small, round objects near the adult mites. It is common to see spider mites in varying stages of life on a plant.
- The presence of small bite marks on the underside of the leaves. If the bites are worse, the marks can also be seen on the surface of the leaves.
The bites can be larger and usually the marks turn to yellow spots. This means that the spider mite has already sucked the nutrients in that area of the leaf! Don’t confuse these yellow spots because these are all over your plants. Most nutrient deficiencies can be seen in young leaves only or only on adult leaves.
- The presence of webbing. If you spot webbing all over your plants and buds, this means that the spider mite infestation has turned for the worse. There is no hope for your plants now!
- The presence of wilted leaves and stems. Spider mites have a voracious appetite and usually, the only thing that will make them go away is when the leaf has wilted and died. But they won’t give up just yet because they will soon move to another leaf and eat to their heart’s content.
How did Spider Mites Enter Your Indoor Growing Area?
You found spider mites on weed but you were extra careful! You even checked all your plants daily but how come this happened in your indoor growing area?
Spider mites are very small creatures and these can easily hitch a ride on anything to reach your plants.
- From pets or animals – spider mites can easily latch on to the fur of animals or pets and this gives them a ride to any plant that they can eat. This is why you must never allow pets or other animals to enter your growing area. Not only will pets like dogs and cats bring in mites but these creatures can also have cannabis pollen in their bodies and these can accidentally fertilize your female plants!
- From other plants other than cannabis – if your cannabis plants share a growing space with other plants then it may have acquired spider mites from these plants. This is why it’s best to grow cannabis plants in a separate grow room or growing area, away from other types of plants.
If you think that the spider mites came from these sources, you might be able to exterminate the mites using common measures. You may be dealing with regular mites that are not yet exposed to cannabis pest pesticide products! You still have a chance!
- From a cannabis clone – if you recently brought in a clone from another garden inside your growing area then this clone plant may have spider mites. It’s wise to quarantine all plants even clones and seedlings for a few days to weeks before these are introduced to the main growing area.
- From another cannabis plant – if you recently added a new plant inside the growing area then it’s also possible that the mites may have been from this plant. Again, it’s best to quarantine new plants or plants that you wish to add to your growing area to check for pests.
Compared to the previous two, spider mites coming from a new clone or new plant can be harder to get rid of. This is because it’s more likely that these pests have already received treatment and have developed resistance to the pesticide. Because of this, you need to rotate your spider mite pest control technique to fully eradicate these pests.
How to Remove Spider Mites on Cannabis Plants?
Before using pesticides and other organic treatments, prepare your plants first by removing most of the pests.
1. Add a Strong Fan on Top of Your Plants
A strong breeze will remove the mites from the leaves instantly. It will also stop them from mating and laying eggs since they can’t do these in a windy environment. The mites and their eggs will be sprayed elsewhere.
2. Spray with Plain Water
Use a spray bottle with water and spray the mites away. Make sure that the stream of water is strong enough to dislodge the pests from the leaves. Hold the leaves and spray at the bottom where most of the mites are staying. Don’t forget to spray on the stems and branches but do so minimally on the buds.
3. Take Your Plants Outside
If you can, take your plants outdoors and spray them with water. This way, you are spraying the mites out of your room and not just spraying them on the walls and floors.
Now that you have removed most of the pests, it’s time to hit the remaining ones with some hard-hitting treatments
4. Use Water and Soap Spray
Before you use any of the next treatments, use simple water and soapy spray. This technique will soften the hard shells of spider mites so it would be easier to apply the next treatments. The spray will also create a slippery film on the leaves that the mites will find it hard to hold on to. Also, water and soap are not dangerous to plants and are non-toxic to humans and pets. Spray this in the morning and then spray pure water after a few hours. You may now proceed with the next treatments. Repeat the water and soap spray morning treatment daily.
5. Use Spinosad
All Spinosad products are safe on plants, humans, and pets but are hard to pests like spider mites, thrips, caterpillars and crickets. Make sure to read labels before you use them. Also, prepare just the amount you need because you can only use the prepared amount for 24 hours.
6. Use Organic Essentria IC3
Essentria IC3 is another effective spider mites solution and is also toxic to other cannabis pests. This treatment is safe for humans and plants but will only work for a few hours. This has to be used together with other treatments to completely eradicate spider mites.
7. No Pest Strips
Pest strips are sticky strips that spider mites and other pests are attracted to. They move to the strip and once they are there, they won’t be able to move or escape. These strips may have a weird smell but are very effective and won’t hurt your plants at all. Just place strips near your plants.
8. Bleach and Water Solution
Bleach and water can instantly kill spider mites now that they are vulnerable. Place a small amount of bleach in a spray with water. Shake the mixture and spray it all over your plants. The spider mites will be killed after being soaked with bleach solution. However, this treatment will not work with spider mite eggs.
9. Alcohol and Water Solution
Alcohol and water may also be sprayed on plants as alcohol can also instantly kill mites. Let this solution remain on leaves.
This is effective in killing spider mites but is very expensive. Make this the final solution if all your efforts are still in vain. Floramite is also safe for humans, plants, and pets.
11. Diatomaceous Earth
This is fine fossil dust that can cut the bodies of spider mites and other insects and kill them. Sprinkle this all over your plants and also on the growing area surfaces. This treatment is very safe to humans, pets, and your plants but is very deadly on pests like spider mites, thrips, aphids, and more.
12. Neem Oil
Neem oil is the natural oil from the neem tree which has effective pesticide effects. Follow directions on how to use neem oil and use a sprayer to spray the oil to your plants. Cover every part especially the underside of plants. Spray it all over but not on the buds because this can change the smell and flavor of your buds.
13. Use natural insect predators
Use the common enemy of spider mites: ladybugs. These insects also have a voracious appetite and will devour spider mites easily. You can buy live ladybugs from garden centers. All you need to do is to place some of these on different parts of your plants. These won’t hurt or eat your plants because they most especially love spider mites and other pests.
How to Prevent Spider Mites on Cannabis Plants?
The only way to prevent spider mites is by careful monitoring of your plants. Also, avoid placing new plants directly inside your growing area. Have these quarantined first.
Spider mites on weed are indeed devastating. But a combination of these treatments can help stop spider mite infestation and help you save your plants. And if the infestation is so severe, you may have no choice but to harvest early or abandon your growth.