Problems - mites
Red spider mites is the biggest problem in a collection that is situated in an urban environment. The problem is magnified if the owner is a busy person (like myself). A week of neglect is enough for spider mites to gain a foothold in your collection.
| ||This is a Gymnocalycium, probably a Gymnocalycium baldianum. With chronic neglect, plants end up with red spider mite scars all over the plant. Not a square inch is spared. If it doesn't die from a fungi infection, then it may still be saved. Of course, it now looks really awful. |
| ||This Echinocactus grusonii looks absolutely awful, but there is some hope as new growth is poking out of the scars. |
The species don't normally produce offsets, but this one produced lots of offsets owing to its damaged apical growing point.
| ||A Gymnocalycium mihanovichii mutant in a not-so-good condition. You can see the beginnings of a secondary fungi attack. The area attacked by spider mites is the lower section, which may be shielded from overhead watering. |
Fungi gain a foothold when the skin of the plant is damaged by spider mites. Black mould is very serious, but any fungi must be treated as a serious problem. Chronic spider mite and fungi attacks is almost always fatal.
| ||Another Gymnocalycium mihanovichii mutant in a sorry shape. Here the secondary fungi attack is more advanced. The patch of black does not bode well for the plant. If you want to save the plant, it is a good idea to cut off the best unaffected portion immediately. |
| ||This is a cereiod with a serious attack of red spider mites. Cacti or succulents with deep ribs and a not-so-tough skin are magnets for spider mites. This picture shows that the whole of the plant must be periodically cleaned. |
All hard-to-reach areas must be cleaned. Those are the places where spider mites will strike first -- the sheltered parts of the plant. So please, spray the plant thoroughly when you are watering or cleaning it.
| ||I'm not absolutely sure what this is, but I took the picture to use as a bad example of what not to do to your plants. |
| ||This is a failed graft, the graft having succumbed to a red spider mite attack, leaving the tougher Myrtillocactus geometrizans stock completely unscathed. |
An offset has formed, since the dead graft no longer takes up any of the stock plant's water and nutrients.
Here are some ideas for the eradication of red spider mites. Please let me remind you that I do not religiously combat bugs and fungi, so use these notes as pointers, don't take them as gospel.
- Plants must be clean from dust and constant care. Misting helps. Better yet, spray them clean regularly with water.
- Regular watering helps prevent the appearance of spider mites. Avoid dry and dusty conditions. This means regular care.
- Malathion has been mentioned as effective. You can try other insecticides too. Miticides might be a better choice.
- I have tried dog shampoo, but have absolutely no idea if they are effective. Maybe not for eradication, but for deterrence. Pet shampoo has a miticide.