The Red Spider: The Polyphagous Mite

It is the mite that affects the greatest amount of crops. If you have ever had your garden or planted a vegetable in a pot in your garden, you probably know it.

The red spider is a mite present in numerous crop plants, getting to form true pests around them that can undermine their health or cause them real damage. Learn what it is and how to fight it. We tell you everything.

A polyphagous mite

That’s right, the one known as the red spider is nothing more than a mite. It receives that name for its ability to weave cobwebs, but it does not belong to the arachnid group.

It affects a large number of species precisely because of its polyphagous character, that is, it finds in many plants its perfect food. Some of the crops it affects are those of eggplant, zucchini, beans, peppers or tomatoes, or fruits such as melon and watermelon.

It is a species that is present in many areas of Spain, especially among those that have a climate of softer or warmer characteristics.

For example, the Mediterranean coast, the Canarian archipelagos, the area of ‚Äč‚ÄčAndalusia or the interior of Extremadura. They are about 0.5 millimeters long and 0.30 meters wide. Although its color can vary between green, yellow or the most common, orange-red, you can identify it because it always has two dark spots on the side of the chest.

The plague of red spiders

With the arrival of heat, this mite increases its presence in many crop species, which makes the rise in temperatures, most farmers expect their dreaded appearance.

The main problem is that the red spider, like most insects, reproduces quite easily and quickly. This causes that their impact on the crops is greater, and therefore, they can get to devour whole crops in a few days.

To be able to appreciate it in the plants, due to its tiny size, we must look for a small dot in the leaves that moves from one side to the other. In any case, if you want to verify that it is a red spider, you will need a magnifying glass.

That way you can also see the eggs laid on them. If you face a real plague, that tiny dot that appears on the sheet becomes a larger spot.

What damage can it cause?

As we have said before, the problem caused by the red spider is due to its way of feeding.

  • To extract nutrients from the leaves, insert their stilettos into it and suck the contents of some cells. Thus, these cells die when emptied and leave in place a stain on the leaf causing problems of decreased photosynthetic activity in the plant as well as perspiration.
  • Also, if the infection is caused at a time of high temperatures or drought – something usual considering that the red spider attacks with high temperatures – is also accompanied by severe defoliation. This translates into a decrease in the production of flowers and, therefore, also of future fruits.
  • On some occasions, the red spider attacks the fruit directly, so it produces quite visible spots that can cause us to discard them with their consequent economic loss.

What crops do you attack?

If you have an orchard, you are very likely to see the red spider among its leaves or fruits. This is because, due to its polyphagous character, the red spider attacks a large number of crops. Here you will find the main ones:

  • Citrus: Lemon and Clementine are the citrus species most affected by this pest. In this case, the red spider feeds on both the leaf and the fruit, causing discoloration and desiccation in the first case and diffuse spots in the second. In severe cases, it can cause defoliation or total fall of the leaves of the tree.
  • Horticultural crops: they feed on the leaves leaving yellowish spots. They usually appear in the intermediate phase between flowering and fruit set.
  • Corn or soy: the leaves are clearing at the beginning until they turn brown, a sign that the mite plague is dispersing.
  • Vine: in table grapes, it usually causes the greatest damage during the sprouting phase. They delay the development of the plant by decreasing the production and quality of the harvest.

How to eliminate the red spider

Eliminating this mite can be difficult if it is found in a large amount, so it is important to catch the infection on time. Here are some steps to effectively eliminate the red spider from your crops.

  1. The hummus worm seems to be one of the most effective solutions to eliminate pests in many crops. Try liquid solutions of lombiz hummus that you can find in plant protection and gardening stores. The best thing is that when one of the mites becomes infected, it will infect the others shortly.
  2. Of course, there are pesticides and insecticides on the market, but the red spider pest is quite resistant to them. Also, you have to take into account the impact on the environment of these products due to their high toxicity.
  3. On the other hand, we can also find in this type of establishment solutions of sulfur applications that harm these mites due to the gases released in times of high temperatures. However, you should use it only when you face a strong plague since its continued use can inhibit the growth of other beneficial microorganisms. This includes natural enemies of pests.
  4. Precisely in the latter, you have a good reef. Natural predators, such as Ambrosius, are very effective in controlling pests. In the case of the red spider, however, you should combine it with someone else, since when the red spider population disappears, the Ambrosius dies and leaves a few specimens of the mite that can be replayed.
  5. An effective natural remedy is to make a homemade garlic solution. You can boil several garlic heads and use the resulting water as a spray on the infected leaves and fruits. You can also add an onion or a couple of chilies. The soap and water solution sprayed on diseased plants also works.

Pest Prevention

Finally, remember that it is very important that you work on the prevention of the red spider. For that, you must have a completely healthy plant. Here are some tricks for this:

  • Regularly clean weeds, as they serve as a den for spiders before jumping to the target plant.
  • Do not abuse fertilizers, they could damage the plant.
  • Abusing insecticides is also not a good idea, as you could mistakenly kill microorganisms that naturally fight pests.
  • Neem and nettle oil has also demonstrated its preventive effect against the red spider. If you are going through a particularly hot or dry season, you can dissolve a few drops of these essential oils in water and spray the mixture on the plants.

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