Spider mites on milkweed can be annoying as well as damaging to your plant. These milkweed pests multiply fast, spreading throughout the plant in no time at all.
Read this article to learn how you can tackle this menace in your garden. With our expert tips, you can get rid of these bugs and prevent them from coming back once and for all.
- How To Get Rid of Milkweed Bugs
- Kill Spider Mites Organically
- Identifying Spider Mites on Milkweed
- How To Prevent
How To Get Rid of Milkweed Bugs
Get rid of milkweed bugs by washing the plant thoroughly, immediately isolating it, and removing the infested leaves. These bugs are tropical and feed on the sap of the plant leaves, so it is important to fix this problem before it becomes worse.
Continue reading for in-depth details on how you can tackle them before they end up weakening your plant.
– Act Quickly
As soon as you spot these pests, act immediately and take charge before they spread and damage the plant. The more you delay treatment, the more they will weaken the plant by ingesting the sap from the leaves.
– Isolate the Plant
You need to prevent the spread of spider mites by isolating the plant. Quarantine it in a separate area so that other plants around it don’t get affected as well.
– Remove Infested Leaves
Snip away all those sections of leaf foliage that have been heavily infested. Do not mix the infested leaf with other garden trash. Instead, seal them in a plastic bag before disposing of them to prevent further spread.
– Give the Plant a Thorough Wash
The easiest way to get the mites off the plants is to wash them off. Spray the plant completely with water. Pay especially close attention to the under-surface of leaves where the mites predominantly thrive and lay eggs.
– Use an Alcohol Mixture
Clean the plant with a mixture of alcohol and water. Apply directly over all spider mites and leave them on for a few minutes before wiping them off with a lightly damp towel.
– Remove the Layer of Mulch
If you have a layer of mulch or humus at the base of your plant, you will need to remove it. Mulch serves as a perfect destination for the bugs to hide and thrive, even after a wash. Thus, clear them away by digging out an inch of the soil.
– Use a Pesticide
Diatomaceous earth is a mineral pesticide that proves beneficial in removing spider mites. It kills the pests permanently from the plant by dehydrating them.
– Get Bugs as Allies
Ladybugs, lacewing, predatory mites and bugs are natural predators. They can prove to be quite handy in getting rid of spider mites. They feed on the mites, with the capability of removing over five thousand mites at one go.
You don’t need to worry about them being around as they do not cause any harm to the milkweed plant. Remember, bugs work as perfect allies when the pest infestation level is still low to medium.
– Use Soapy Water
Another interesting way to get rid of these milkweed insects is to use soapy water. Make a mixture with dishwashing soap and water.
With the help of a spray bottle, apply directly to the milkweed beetles. It will prove to be an easy and effective way to make these pests fall off the plant.
– Manual Removal
In case there aren’t many bugs on milkweed, you can pick them off manually. Wear protective gloves and scoop them off the plant, provided you are sure that there are only a few of them there.
– Sanitize the Area
Sanitize the area around the plant to prevent further infestations. Change the potting mixture, wash the surface and inspect the plant well before you replant it elsewhere.
Kill Spider Mites Organically
Get rid of spider mites organically with the use of essential oils and sprays. With their strong natural smell, they are a chemical-free way to tackle bugs. The beetles get repelled by the natural smell of these products. Here is a list of organic sprays for direct application on the pests.
– Essential Oils
A few essential oils you can use are listed below. A point to note here is that essential oils tend to burn the plant. Before you go ahead with this, test a portion of the plant with it first.
- Neem oil
- Tea tree oil
– Natural Garlic Spray
Garlic is an amazing ingredient to combat pests. You can make a natural garlic spray by mixing four crushed garlic pods with liquid soap and water. With the help of a spray bottle, spray liberally on the area of pest infestation to effectively and organically get rid of the mites.
– Cayenne Pepper Spray
Another organic spray that can be used is cayenne pepper. Make a mixture of one teaspoon of cayenne pepper with water and spray the solution all over the plant to control the spread of mites.
Identifying Spider Mites on Milkweed
The first thing to do before you even get started on tackling the menace is to learn to correctly identify the pests. In this section, we list out the distinctive visual features of a spider mite infestation on milkweed plants.
- Spider mites are white or light green bugs.
- The mites weave fine silk webs, especially on leaf undersurfaces.
- They have an elongated, oval-shaped body of around 0.4 mm in length.
- Nymphs look similar to adults but do not have fully-grown wings.
- Infested plants develop discolored leaves with a white and leathery texture.
- Further signs of infestation are curled or burned leaf edges.
- You will most likely spot them around the summer months.
- Another infestation sign is black eggs on milkweed leaves.
How To Prevent
Misting the plant, removing litter, and regular pruning can help prevent insects from attacking a milkweed plant. Aside from these, you can avoid milkweed bugs by taking a few more easy preventive measures. Read on for the details.
– Provide the Right Environment
Spider mites thrive in dry, dusty and hot environments. Thus, keeping your plant away from heat and dust can reduce the problem considerably.
Move the plant into the shade and provide a greenhouse effect so that these plants remain cool. Keep the plant well-hydrated as well.
– Mist the Plant
Settled dust will increase the chances of mites. Prevent dust by misting the plant regularly, paying close attention especially under the leaves. If you spot dust, gently wipe it with a moist cloth.
– Remove Leaf Litter
Clear leaf and twig litter especially after the fall season. The litter promotes the breeding of these pests.
– Prune Regularly
Pruning regularly keeps pests at bay. It is a good practice that essentially keeps the garden healthy and fresh.
Pruning can stop pest infestation in large numbers. The spider mites won’t be able to latch on in clusters around any specific spot of the plant, so by regularly pruning and removing extra foliage, you can prevent all other bugs and beetles as well.
– Space the Plants Out
Plant milkweed plants away from each other by keeping a space of about 10 to 20 inches between them. By spreading the plants out, one infected plant will not be able to infect another.
– Limit Their Food Source
Spider mites ingest the sap of milkweed leaves, but they also feed on other insect larvae. Limit the occurrences of these food sources. With limited food, the insects will not be able to multiply to create a large population infestation.
– Use Essential Oils
Essential natural oils such as neem oil can repel insects with their smell. Thus, the mites will not be able to create colonies in your plant. The ideal time to spray neem oil will be during the spring and summer seasons, once every two weeks.
– Maintain a Proper Watering Schedule
As mentioned earlier, spider mites thrive in dry conditions, so make sure that your plant is well hydrated and watered regularly.
– Maintain Moisture
Try to make the air humidity around the plant higher. Spider mites will not be able to thrive in humid conditions.
– Use High-quality Potting Soil
Potting soil such as Sterlite can be used to avoid not only spider mites but also other soil-borne pests.
– Inspect Plants Regularly
As they say, prevention is better than cure. Therefore, inspect your plants regularly to catch the appearance of spider mites early. Check for dry soil conditions, nutrition and brown spots. Address the needs of the plant to prevent any pest infestations.
Spider mites can be a nuisance to gardeners as they can wreak quite the havoc. Let us summarize the various ways to prevent them from attacking your plants as discussed in the article.
- Isolate the plant as soon as you spot the spider mites.
- Use a strong water source to spray the bugs off.
- Manually pick off the bugs with garden gloves if they aren’t many of them.
- Use soapy liquid sprays and directly spray on the bugs.
- Bugs such as ladybugs prove beneficial in reducing the growth and impact of mites.
- Organic ways to kill mites are by using essential oils and garlic spray.
With proper care and patience, you can easily reduce the impact of bugs and pests on the milkweed plant. After reading this article, you can now prevent them from infesting your plant and ensure a thriving milkweed foliage.
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