Spider mitesPlants stressed from too little water can be in double jeopardy. First, lack of water weakens plants. Second, once they’re not healthy, they’re more susceptible to other problems.
Identification — The dog days of summer are just when the mite population thrives. These tiny brown-gray insects, no bigger than specks of dust, live on plants and suck the sap (and sometimes the life) out of leaves. If you have a plant infested with mites, you may notice yellowing, dropping or a light webbing on the leaves or stems. You may be unsure if a plant is stressed because of lack of water or because of mite infestation. One way to tell is to place a piece of white paper under a damaged stem. Shake the stem and look closely at what falls on the paper. Dust specks that move are probably mites.
Control — Mites thrive on dusty plants, so use a strong stream of water to knock the dust and the mites off plants. Keeping plants well watered has the added benefit of giving them ammunition to fight off devastation. Healthy plants are better able to replenish valuable fluids taken by the mites. If mites seem to have the best of your garden and simply washing them off isn’t working, try spraying weekly with insecticidal soap for three consecutive weeks.