Even the most rustic and leathery plant is not free from parasites that can inevitably damage it and sometimes even lead to death. The red spider or red spider is one of the parasites that most frequently can infest both our flowering or ornamental plants and our fruit trees and vegetables.
The red spider, scientific name Tetranychus urticae, is a polyphagous mite (synonymous with omnivorous, i.e. eating a wide variety of foods), and is one of the most dangerous parasites that our plants may encounter.
Feared by those who know it for the speed with which it can infest both ornamental plants and fruit trees, the red spider, although small in size, detected early can be fought and eliminated with biological and natural remedies.
How To Recognize The Red Spider?
From herbaceous to arboreal ornamental plants, from legumes to vegetables and most fruit trees, the red spider doesn’t spare any plant species or genus. Therefore, recognizing and detecting it in a timely manner is important to be able to eliminate it without leaving considerable damage to our plants.
The red spider is a parasitic mite of small size, about half a millimeter when it is adult, so it is difficult to see with the naked eye. Moreover, considering that it generally colonizes the lower part of the leaves of our plants, before we realize it will have already done good damage.
It takes on a bright red color when completely adult, while in its first growing phase it has a more faded color tending to orange.
Another characteristic that makes this parasite so feared is the remarkable speed with which it reproduces, in fact the red spider mite is able to reproduce even 8-10 times in a year. That’s why it’s important to find it in time.
Red Rag: Symptoms On The Plant
Despite its size, it is not difficult to identify and recognize the red spider, as it leaves visible traces on the plant. Therefore, to recognize this parasite at an early stage, it is sufficient to carefully observe the symptoms on the plant.
The red spider mite feeds on the sap of the plant, and as we have mentioned it affects a wide variety of plants, vegetables and fruit trees, but in all leaves a characteristic depigmentation on the leaves.
The discoloration of the leaves manifests itself mainly in the part of the upper margin of the affected leaves, taking on a color similar to bronze with the passing of time.
In addition to the discoloration of localized part of the leaves, we can also find on them white dots, initially appear only in the lower part of the leaves and then spread throughout the leaf.
Another typical symptom is the early drying of some leaves with the consequent early fall of the same.
Moreover, given its origins, this parasite can also form thin spider webs between the leaves of the affected plants, and in this case its presence is well evident.
Among the causes that favor the appearance of the red spider, certainly the climatic conditions are those that most affect the infestations of this arachnid parasite. The hot and dry climate, especially in the absence of rain and humidity, is the ideal environment for its spread.
This is why it is precisely in the summer that these parasites manifest themselves most intensely, damaging our plants or our crops.
How To Prevent Red Spider Infestations
As we have said, the warm climate and the lack of humidity are the main factors that cause the appearance and spread of the red spider, so to prevent the appearance, just water the plants more frequently in the hottest and most humid periods.
Red Rag: Natural Remedies And Biological Control
In case we have been able to detect this parasite early, and therefore the infestation is not in an advanced state we can try to eliminate it using natural and biological remedies.
The first thing we can do, if they are small plants, is to increase the humidity and wash the plant by spraying water on the leaves especially those most infested.
However, although in this way we can eliminate the adult subjects, we can not do the same for its eggs, which will remain well glued to the bottom of the leaves.
The biological fight against the red spider mite, as is done with other parasites, is carried out by inserting antagonistic insects and natural predators of the same in the affected environment.
Among the natural antagonistic and predatory insects of the red spider web we find, some species of beetles, tisanoptera, and coccinellids including the most common and known, the ladybug.
Ladybugs are a natural predator not only for red spiders but also for aphids and other small parasites, so they are often used in biological control.
Obviously, obtaining a quantity of ladybugs that can eradicate an advanced infestation is an unrealistic and impractical solution.
Red-Backed Rag: Chemical Remedies
When the infestation of red spiders is rampant, and therefore with natural remedies we can not eradicate it, we just have to use chemicals, especially acaricides.
Since there are many types of acaricides on the market, and each one has its own specific characteristics and methods of use, in this case it is better to seek the advice of your phytodealer or nurseryman of confidence.
The only advice I can give you in this case is to choose the least toxic chemical.
The red spider (Tetranychus urticae), the parasitic mite of our plants, has a relative who looks very much like him and who frequently appears in the same period, the red spider of the travertine, which unlike the first is totally harmless to our plants.