Detect, treat & prevent: Mites
Not all plant pests are insects: among the organisms that attack your garden and crops, we also find some species of mites, arthropods classified among arachnids. The best known is the red spider mite, which we often encounter in the summer garden.
The threat carried by these tiny invertebrates is that they are difficult to detect. As they are so small, it is difficult to distinguish them with the naked eye.
Below find out how to recognise mite attacks and what are the biological techniques to prevent and fight them.
What are mites?
In the large family of mites, we find various arthropods, among the best known are ticks and dust mites, which are particularly feared because of the allergies they can cause.
When dealing with agriculture, we talk about plant mites which feed on plants and damage them. However, there are some mites that can help us in the biological defence of crops. They are useful organisms that can be used against aphids, haliotids and other unwelcome insects.
Phytophagous mites feed on plant sap, which they suck by stinging with their bite. The most common is the red spider mite, which affects almost all fruit and vegetable plants.
These small arthropods can reproduce quickly, particularly in times when the weather is mild, so they can proliferate while weakening the plant.
The damage they bring is not limited to sap sucking, they can carry diseases, with really serious consequences for the affected plants.
How to recognise mites?
Being very small, mites are difficult to detect, but we can notice the symptoms of their attacks on leaves. Affected leaves usually show yellowing or discolouration; they may also curl or crumple in reaction to the stings they suffer. Only with great care or a magnifying glass can we distinguish the presence of these organisms that are only a few millimetres in size.
Some mites such as the red spider mite create tiny webs, which can be seen on the underside of the leaf.
How to prevent mites?
Plant mites occur in hot, dry weather; in fact, they are a typical summer garden pest. One form of prevention can be to water often, even sprinkling moisture on the leaves. Let’s be careful, however, because moisture on leaves is not always a good idea, as it can promote fungal diseases.
How to get rid of mites?
If we find mite attacks, it is important to intervene as soon as possible, preventing these organisms from proliferating and their action weakening the crops considerably. When the attack is localised, you can choose to remove the affected leaves.
In organic agriculture, there are different insecticides capable of eliminating the mites: sulphur can be used (paying attention to the possible phytotoxicity), or oily products (soft soap of potassium, white oil, soybean oil).