Spider mites are small insects (less than 1 mm) that live on the undersides of leaves, where they spin protective webbing and cause damage to plant cells by puncturing them to feed. They lay translucent eggs, with hatchlings appearing in as little as 3 days under optimal conditions. They become sexually mature in as little as 5 days. One female can lay up to 20 eggs per day, living for 2-4 weeks. This prolific reproductive rate allows populations to quickly grow out of control, as well as developing immunity to chemical pesticides over generations. IMK is a physical pesticide, so it wipes out an entire population with no chance of immunity.
How do you identify them?
The first sign of a spider mite infestation is typically widespread tiny markings on leaves; these are bite marks as the mites pierce the cells to feed. More signs include webbing under leaves in early stages, small, yellowish dots along the sides of leaves, bronze sheen and lackluster fan leaves, eventual cover of webbing on leaves and stems. Leaf and stem damage is generally the first noticed symptom.
Spider mites are dangerous for numerous reasons. Female mites can produce a million mites in less than a month. They appear to be eradicated only to show up a few days or a week later. These tiny bugs have enormous appetites; a critical infestation can kill a plant overnight. Spider mite’s telltale webbing also hurts plants EVEN after you successfully remove the mites. The biggest reason they’re dangerous is a zombie mentality of quick reproduction: generations become resistant to chemical pesticides. A variable growth process (eggs, two-stage nymph cycles, and finally adults) means quickly reproducing and hidden second generations once the grower can’t see mature adults.
Early discovery is key! A constant and varied defense is the best option. Treat your grow room several times after you think you’ve removed the infestation, because there are most likely some tiny, see-through eggs you’ve missed. Just pretend they’re hiding under the radar doing reps until they’re swole enough to pop back into action.