Spider mites - An organic, safe treatment?

Luke_Skywalker(Perth W.A.)April 9, 2003

Hi there, I'm just wondering if anyone out there knows of an organic, and most of all, safe insecticide to use for red and two-spotted spider-mite. I've been using Wettable Sulphur, and this is supposed to be fairly safe, but still it is not ideal, and didn't make a sizable dent in the population, even after 3 applications 5 days apart or so. Then I went to a mixture advised to me in the Australian Orchid Review. This was a mix of 40mL/L of White-oil concentrate, and 10mL/L of Pyrethrum concentrate, mixed together in a spray-pack. This has been used on my garden, and initially I had great results, but only about 6 days later I had the eggs come up and re-infest, but I've been told not to re-spray for at least 15 days!! (This is on the white-oil bottle.) Not only this, but I worry that the white-oil is possibly going to not only kill a few plants, (some reacted badly, particularly some ferns and younger plant growth.) but maybe harm my cats too, who enjoy my small courtyard vege, herb and orchid garden, and quite often feed on the plants there.... (Catgrass, catnip and so on....) I am having great trouble with these two distinct populations of spider-mite, and I really don't want any damaging or potentially harmfull pesticides in the garden either. Any suggestions?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ashmeri(Cent. Qld.Aust.)

I was given this recipe by a very old and keen gardener when I have those "white lice" things on my ferns, he says it is good for red spider mites too.
Cleaned up my ferns well.
1 teaspoon Maldison 50 ( dog flea wash )
1 tablespoon White oil
1 Imperial gallon water.(you can work out the litres)I have an old gallon bucket.
Just spray this on.
shouldn't hurt the cats but hopefully will get the mites.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2003 at 5:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Marie_K(SA Aust)

Maldison is not organic as far as I know. Pest Oil is the least toxic spray I can think of but I don't know if it's effective against mites.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2003 at 9:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Garlic spray is very effective, and I've seen it used for the purpose by professional nurserymen. So is Basil spray, or Coriander spray, Chive spray, Feverfew spray or Dill spray (just make a strong tea with the leaves, and use within a few days). Pyrethrum dust is also good.

2.5kg white flour
600ml buttermilk
100 litres water

Mix well. Syphon into a spray container and apply weekly. Use this for heavy infestation of spider mites.

Mix 1 part canola oil into 50 parts water (approximately 1 tablespoon oil to 1 litre water). Add a few drops of diswashing detergent and shake well. Spray tops and bottoms of leaves and stems generously to get rid of aphids, mealy bugs, spider mites, soft scale or earwigs.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2003 at 6:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
hazza(perth wa aust)

hi all , i had a severe problem of sp. mites and used a farming miticide called ivomec i think ,3 sprays 7 days apart and all gone(why start a war with pistols when you have cannons) was the advice given to me by a comm. rose growei think it cost $12 fr 500ml used at 4ml per litre
cheers craig

    Bookmark   April 20, 2003 at 10:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here are some tips for organic control for spider mite
* If you don't want to spray at all, you can limit the population by watering the leaves of the plants - especially the undersides where they like to live. They thrive in dry conditions and this really gives them a hard time.
* It is possible to buy predators to control your spider mite population. They can be sent to you by mail order. Ring your local dept of ag, or DPI, they should be able to give you some local sources.
* One of the new generation of sprays that I think is terrific is Confidor. It uses nicotine as its active ingredient but not in concentrations likely ot harm your cats. You only need to spray part of the plant - it moves through the plant and poisons pests that fed on the plant. But the good thing is that it doesn't harm the predators that feed on the mites. You can buy it as a ready-to-spray, or as a concentrate. It is useful on all rasping and sucking pests.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2003 at 5:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Tried the canola oil + dishwasher soap combination on severely afflicted italian cypresses.. A day or two later i dusted the it and the red spider mites that fell didn't move.. The moved before.

Will see if it stays that way 2 weeks later when the rains stop..

    Bookmark   December 18, 2010 at 12:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The mixure of canola oil and dish detergent can be use for Vegetables plant? It is safe?

    Bookmark   June 22, 2011 at 7:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We have been using a product that is 100% organic and safe called "No Spider Mites". It has worked wonderfully on our tomato plants. They have pretty fast shipping too which makes it easier to get the stuff before it eats everything up. I think the site is, http://www.nospidermites.com. Hope that helps someone.

Here is a link that might be useful: Spider Mite Control

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 2:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I mix neem oil with dishwashing liquid and water and put it into a backpack mister. Keep in mind that spider mites will live under the lip and on the side of your pots, also spray the soil around the base of the plant and make sure you thoroughly cover the underside of the leaves. Other things to try are crushed chillies soaked in water and exhaling tobacco smoke onto the plant, particularly from ornamental tobaccos like nicotiana rustica. There is also a product called liquid ladybug which is highly effective if you cannot get frozen ladybugs in your area (WA, TAS) thanks to AQIS.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 3:06AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
miketrees(WA Australia)

Hi Luke

Two Spotted mite thrive here where we live the hot and dry conditions are great for them.
I agree^^ up there if you water with sprinklers that controls them.
I know you are probably not able to do that because of our water restrictions.
In commercial orchards they have terrible problems with mites, the oil sprays work well IF you apply them with a big air blast unit which gets the oil on the underside of the leaves.
Our temperatures can cause huge burning on oil sprayed plants as well.
I introduced a predatory mite Persimilus and as long as you don't spray for fruit fly (orchards)they control the two spotted mite beautifully.
I found that they also survived over winter, they will in Perth as well where it does not get too cold

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 7:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The environmentally safest and most effective response to (red in winter) Spider Mites are aggressor mites ... along the lines of what Mike Trees suggests (above).

There are two effective types:
1. Phytosieulus persimilis;
2. Amblysieus californicus.

Sometimes Phytosieulus don't work or cannot cope, usually in the America's - thus I think it is climatics (temperature ranges).

In Australia/WA they thrive and can usually eradicate domestic garden infestations in six to seven weeks. Commercial nurseries and market gardens may take three or four longer, but the problem will be under control within
several weeks (depends on how many establishment points around the infestations are seeded with the aggressor mites).
It is best to be mindful of the winds - morning and night - thus 'seed' two points on the western side of the garden and two on the east (for large gardens/plantings).

Try Waldecks, or the local gardening centre. Failing that you might visit the Ag Dept/CALM (Jarrah Road entry) in Bentley-Kensington. They have a public access fact-sheet display in there with all sorts of great stuff, plus the staff (researchers) can usually help with cultures of
friendly bugs/mites.

Other Options (sprays).
Oil based pest sprays are not good for Perth/Western Australia for several reasons - usually doing more harm than good.

The reasons are wind, humidity rates (mean), heat and the UV index/range.

WA/Perth is not the Eastern States, Adelaide or Darwin, thus is unique in both climate and soil geomorphology.

In Perth/WA, oil-mixtures will usually 'burn' the leaves, well before it kills-off pests, which just hastens the demise of your plants.

Non-oil options are 'insecticides' (frown), herbal or vegetable.

3. Garlic spay. Effective on most mites/sucking bugs - including red spider and aphids.

Crush one clove of garlic in 500~600ml (1 pint) of rain or distilled water, shake well, then put the solution in a sprayer ($2 cheapy from Red Dot or wherever). Spray the leaves, flowers and stems about one hour after sunset (early evening, once the temperature starts to drop).

Repeat the procedure every two or three days for a week, then once a week for three weeks. Problem should be gone after a month.

Dangers? Nil, unless you were planning a romantic evening and thoroughly spray yourself.

Best trick - especially with rose gardens - is to plant four or five garlic cloves along the line of the rose garden (about one every two metres/yards). Once they grow they'll do your insect control simply by being there (no work needed).

4. Nicotine Spray. Very effective on red spider mites and most sucking insects, however is very toxic. Usually used as a mite spray in North America.

As a rule you soak a handful of dried tobacco plant leaves in a gallon/4.5 litres of water for a week to make the spray, then apply it once per week.

You can use dried Petunia, potato and tomato...

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 5:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I have done some specific research on these mites, mainly because one correspondent mentioned they do not like watering/humidity; however using the same increases likelihood of fungal or mildew problems ... plus some solutions are not helpful for people living in flats/units.

Spider Mites die-off or go dormant in winter, when rains are heavy and day time temperatures dip under 10' celcius (centigrade)or night time 4' c.

Unfortunately that means moving you/your plants to Jandakot airport or Albany. The garden gnomes might like the holiday, but otherwise it is not practical.

For indoor plants, you might try putting them outside at night, if the forecast minimums are around 5'~6' and/or rain. That will slow/retard the infestation.

Better still (great idea), either:
i). Make a space in your refrigerator and place the plant/pot in there for an hour or two (general space, not the freezer). The spider mites will never know what hit them, because the temperature drop - followed by rise once removed - will be too great for their metabolisms to handle;


ii). Put your plant/plants immediately in front of the air conditioning outlet, or an air conditioner (not evaporative types). The chill factor at the outlet is usually around the 3'~ 5' mark, even if set for a (BTU) room temp around 20'. As the air stream is more general, you'll need to keep the plant/plants there for four or five hours, part rotating them (cover all sides/undersides) every hour or so.

Credit (inspiration) for both these ideas should go to Mike (Trees).

In his response he mentioned 'jet sprayers' - usually used on orchards (look a bit like a Bofors gun), or non aerial emergency crop spraying in the wheat belt. Fun to play with, but generate about 130 db (plus) and cost mega bucks. You won't find them at Coates Hire (not suitable for urban use).

The inspiration was his comment about the jet-sprayer (watering with) being very effective, in part because it got under the leaves.

I thought about it and realized the venturi effect (they are not just pumps spraying water, rather more genuine 'jets' or water turbines ... thus the noise they make) would also be chilling the spray, so both wetting the mites and chilling them at the same time.

That made me think air conditioners would do the same trick, albeit without the need for water ... then I realised your refrigerator was the perfect 'reverse incubator', providing you can fit the plant/pot in ... plus have a fast get-away car - in case the better half catches you doing it.

As a former PM once said (paraphrased): "life wasn't meant to be easy - for spider mites..."

Fighting them requires risks (like getting caught by your spouse) ... but remember you're fighting the good fight.

Anyway - its technically very environmentally friendly* and an option for flat/unit dwellers, with fast (over night) success likelihood.

[*: Domestic bliss environment,...

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 4:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I work in a nursery and am keen to find an organic alternative to the nasty sprays we have been using. I just sprayed a heavy infestation in our roses with Lime Sulphur. I sprayed this morning and had a good look this afternoon; results: absolutely no effect... they were just as active as before the spray.
I am trying to convince my boss to try Natra-soap...
has anyone found any success with this?

In the past we have used:

Rose Shield/Rose Pro - with little to no success on spider mites.

Mancozeb Plus - works well, but leaves a nasty looking residue on the roses that looks just as bad as sickly roses anyway and turns some customers off.

Lebaycid (Fenthion) - works well, but is toxic (kills all insects) and has now been banned for use on food crops and is unavailable to buy at the moment (it may not return to the shelves either)

White Oil (Petroleum based emulsified oil) or Eco-Oil (Canola based emulsified oil) - which we are reluctant to use because of A- the heat and B- the inability to use other products within 2 weeks either side of application.

Just on a side note... Red Spider Mite and Two Spotted Mite are actually the same thing. Two Spotted Mite is the modern term for them as it is more accurate. Under a microscope you can see two spots on their bodies. Over winter the adults turn red or orange which is why they used to be called Red Spider Mite (a less accurate description as the colour is only temporary). Since only the adults turn red it can sometimes appear (if you have very good eyes) like you might have two different varieties at the same time!

* * *

After some research with a few DPI's and Sydney Botanic Gardens, I keep getting Predatory Mites as the consistent advice rather than sprays, as sprays knock out their natural predators and the little blighters recover quicker than their predators causing worse reinfestations.

This may explain our current outbreak as we had masses and masses of lady beetles a few weeks ago and we sprayed with Lebaycid 11 days ago for bud worm. We should have used Dipel, as it won't kill anything else but caterpillars!


hmmm... I seem to be answering my own questions here... except for how Natra-soap works.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 4:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Dear Horti,
Obviously the Lebaycid wiped-out your good bugs and mites, plus I expect you've just had a spell of good/warm weather which aids mite hatchings/growth.

Further on the nicotine option, I suggested soaking tobacco leaves because cigarettes did not occur to me. If you soak a packet in one 9 ltr (2 gal) plastic bucket overnight, it should give you the right concentration of a one litre type hand sprayer, or a nine litre back-pack sprayer (Brunnings, etc. ~ $12.00). Option to expense of a pack of cigarettes is going to the local bowling club and stealing the cigarette butt trays (might just ask for the old butts). I'd soak those for two days.

Old butt advantages would be ratios of potash (good/helps flowering/fruiting).

Negatives would be the tar levels in the mix, but they're probably too low to really worry about.

Nicotine spray is highly effective and technically 'organic', but still very toxic (use mask and gloves).

Possible non-toxic alternative is to run off and find some of those garden torches that burn citronella oil ... because I do not know what would happen if you tried to make citronella based 'white oil' ... plus you have the heat/evaporation effects (burns foliage). Technically you can (make white oil using it as a base), but I do not think it has been done before.

Citronella lamps (smoke from) are effective organic insecticides and do work (kill) sucking mites, aphids, etc.
Probably the easiest option - best when prevailing winds are least/air is calm. Option might be to place a few mid- nursery lines, then leave then burning overnight until the oil reservoirs are used up - while be mindful of fire safety (ie. well clear of rubbish/fuel sources).

In commercial terms (not upsetting customers/staff) - the overnight regime is probably your best option.

Cheers and good luck ...


    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 6:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Try Middleton's Spider Miticide. $7.99 on ebay it's all natural ready to use and it works. Most natural spider mite sprays only confuse mites to not lay eggs if they even work. This stuff kills on contact and prevents existing eggs from hatching. Not harmful to animals

    Bookmark   November 16, 2013 at 11:06PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Whats this on my Garlic?
Can anyone tell me what this is on my garlic and how...
Flowering ash leaves are curling up
I have 10 flowering ash trees about 3 metres tall and...
my hedge is dying!
Hi all.. I am very new to all of this.. But I do have...
Chilli Plant Growth Deformity
Hi All, read a whole bunch of stuff about different...
Leaf beetle?
Hello. Is this some sort of leaf beetle? Should i be...
Sponsored Products
Crosby Sage Thermal Insulated 96-by-84 inch Pinch Pleated Foamback Curtains
$115.95 | Bellacor
Home Decorators Collection Blinds & Shades Cut-to-Width Snow Drift 9/16 in.
Home Decorators Collection
Wildwood Lamps Covered Compote Fired Ceramic Antiqued Glaze Urn
$184.00 | LuxeDecor
Custom Grommet Top Curtain Panel
Home Decorators Collection
Acorn Antique Gold Holdback ,Set of 2
$19.49 | Bellacor
Vintage Turquoise Iron Rack
$350.00 | Chairish
Wildwood Lamps Scavo Glaze In Green Earthenware Mangani 50 Vase
$253.00 | LuxeDecor
Sand Verona Curtain Panel
$14.99 | zulily
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™