Spider mites love hot, dry air -- so don't give it to them

Backyard Q&A

February 06, 2005|By Jon Traunfeld and Ellen Nibali | Jon Traunfeld and Ellen Nibali,Special to the Sun

Last year my mango had the same problem that it has now: spider mites. I grew this mango from seed about 2 1/2 years ago. Do you have a remedy that will kill these insects? Obviously, it is very cold outside right now, so I need something safe for indoors.

Spider mites thrive in hot dry air. Rinsing the plant can eliminate spider mites already on it. If the plant isn't too large, you can put it in the shower. While there are miticides registered for use on houseplants and spider mites, read the label to be sure they can be used on edible plants, even though your plant may not fruit for years. Insecticidal soap or horticultural oil are safe. Spray thoroughly, including leaf undersides. Stressed plants may be further damaged by chemical treatments. Test the spray in a small area first. Badly damaged plants should be discarded before the mites spread to other plants. If possible, humidify your mango's indoor environment and move it outdoors in the summer.

Jon Traunfeld, regional specialist, and Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, work at the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center. The center offers Maryland residents free gardening information and answers to plant and pest questions. Call its hot line at 800-342-2507 (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-1 p.m.) or e-mail questions to www.hgic. umd.edu. (You can also download or order publications and diagnose plant problems online.)

Checklist

1. High winds and soft, saturated soils can lead to the tilting of young or newly planted trees. Pull these trees upright and gently tamp the soil down over the root system.

2. Keep ice-melting products off turf to avoid burning your lawn.

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