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Alaric
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Spider mites on a Ficus...

My ficus seems to have a spider mite infestation going about, since I spotted a real fine web in the tree, and I'm not sure if this is a part of it, but I found a bunch of flies scrambling in the moss and soil today. It seems to be attracting this type of bug around it, plus they seem to be increasing rapidly...

I want to kill any infestations on it quickly, so is there any recommended products I can buy? Maybe even something I can make? I'm real concerned about the tree, I don't want it to reach the stage where the leafs begin to turn yellow.

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hendi_alex
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I've found spider mites to be awfully persistent. They are pretty easy to control, but once infested continue coming back as they are able to hide in every little opening on the plant. Misting with mild soapy water works to control them on most plants, even very delicate plants. Many people just use a mild solution of dish detergent but you can buy the insecticidal soaps. If a really special plant got infested, I might consider some systemic pesticide, as they literally make the plant toxic to the critters. Bayer Rose and flower care is such a product. If you decide to use such a chemical, make sure that it is effective against the target critter and that it is safe for use on your particular plant. Also follow the directions very carefully, and remove the plant from your immediate living area for a day or two during and after application.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

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Alaric
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Thank you so much. This is indeed a very special tree I want to last for a lifetime or more.

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dionaelover
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A good chemical to use is neem oil. It's safe and natural- I use it on even my most sensitive plants. I had a mite infestation developing on a pygmy sundew of mine, but they all died within one treatment. I use Greenlite brand neem concentrate. Just dilute 2 tbsp per gallon of water and cover the whole plant thoroughly (including under the leaves, between branches, etc.). Depending on how hearty these little bugs are, you should see results within one to three treatments. Just don't get the oil on your carpet, as it leaves a rather... unique smell (something between lemon pledge and a dead animal) that is offensive to some people.

Another option is anything containing pyrethrins or systemic pyrethroids (sp?). Pyrethrin is extracted from chrysanthemums, and will quickly penetrate and damage an insect's nervous system. With mites, this dosage should be lethal, but it's best to keep applying just in case. Pyrethroids are like pyrethrins in their attack plan, but they are systemic.

Finally, you can use orange oil treatments. Orange oil is the hardest to find, in my opinion, but the best. It just smells like oranges, and works quickly to break down the insects' respiratory systems, causing instant death to whatever comes in contact with it. The only downside is that it is, being orange oil, extremely biodegradeable, so it will need to be reapplied quite a bit, to kill future generations of mites.

I hope that this helps, and good luck with your ficus!
There's just something alluring about a tiny, hungry mouth determined to catch and digest alive six-legged prey. Call it a quirk.

JTred
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hendi_alex wrote: Misting with mild soapy water works to control them on most plants, even very delicate plants. Many people just use a mild solution of dish detergent but you can buy the insecticidal soaps.
I second the soapy spray. I don't know about for spider mites but for the fungus gnats you described it should take out a mild infestation. You just have to give the trunk and soil a good misting anytime you see them (it also helps if you can smash a few while they're wet and can't fly well, why wait for the soap to kill them when you can do it yourself?)

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Alaric
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I was able to buy the systemic pyrethroid today since they didn't have neem oil, and I sprayed it with soapy water yesterday. Though even after, fungus gnats were becoming a real problem, so I repotted the tree in a new container with new soil (the roots looked fine) and placed him in a closed room with a window far enough to give a little bit of shade. I kept all the old dirt in a plastic bag (just for observations), and it took a day for around 20 to spawn inside...

I guess I won't be taking any bonsai's outside for awhile, since that's when the problem began. Even though I checked the plant before taking it inside, I guess I missed something.

It seems to be doing better now in terms of spider mites after the soap/misting all over, but since I repotted it, should I add the systemic after some weeks once there's pressure off the roots? Or will the chemicals not add pressure to the plant at all?

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