There are many garden and landscape shrubs that suffer damage at the hands of the spider mites and the cucumber beetles. Now, let’s talk about the spider mites first.

Spider Mites

The spider mites enjoy a summer with little or no rain, and can become more invasive making your garden or landscape to be increasingly ravaged by this pest. Spider mites and the damage they bring can be recognized by any gardener if you take the time to identify them.

You can study the picture below and as you can see they are usually dark green, however, yellow to red in color can also be found.

spider mite
spider mite

They have 8 legs as an adult and 6 in the larva stage. The adult females are much larger in size (if you can call a spider mite large) and darker in color. Particularly on broadleaf plants, these insects feed on the underneath section of the leaves.

A large colony of these spider mites may have a spider like webbing over them which acts as a protection against us furious gardeners. As they feed the green leaf, the color becomes more speckled in appearance similar to the lace bug below.

lace bug
lace bug

The heaviest infested plants result in “bronzing” and leaf drop. However, there is a spruce spider mite that attacks conifers and will be a problem in the spring as well as the fall.

However, as discussed previously, most spider mites are at their worst under water stress conditions or plants that lack the proper nutrients. The initial time between larva and the two nymph stages can be as little as a week before the appearance of the adult.

This means good warm weather with little or no watering or rain. This encourages the pest to multiply rapidly with more damage created during the summer months.

A plant that is sufficiently supplied with water and the required fertilizer has a better opportunity of maintaining a good front against spider mite damage. You should also follow a non-crowding policy.

If your plants are tightly growing with little room for air or nutrients to be released, then more than likely your plants will become stressed and a spider mite outbreak will commence.

The Best Control for Spider Mites

A good rain or overhead application of water. A good soaking rain will definitely reduce the insect population. In the summer those kind of soaking rains are far and few between.

You can accomplish the same thing with some good heavy overhead showers from your garden hose. A word of caution should be applied here; don’t spray your plants when they will stay wet for more than two hours.

This means evening watering is out as this will invite other types of plant diseases to gain a foothold. You need to look for spider mites by holding a piece of white paper under the suspected leaves. Shake the branch with sufficient force to make these critters fall on to the paper.

You will be able to see very tiny dark spots on the white paper indicating their presence. Then choose a good sunny morning and using your hose wash off the leaves with high water pressure. You can also purchase a good insecticidal soap and follow the directions for mixing the solution.

It is best to do the applying in the morning as I discovered soap can burn your foliage. I was really shocked when this happened because at first I did not realize what occurred.

I also suggest before your soap application dries, wash it off with a hose. This will remove any remaining soap that could burn some tender leaves. I would repeat this procedure for one to two weeks until there are no mites.

Cucumber Beetles

The cucumber beetle can be a real problem in your garden. There are organic methods that can be used to control them before they start attacking and destroying your garden.

cucumber beetle

Cucumber beetles are about 1/4 inch in length and are yellowish-green in color with either black spots or black strips and a black head. Its larvae are 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch in length, white to beige in color with a brown head and a brown spot on its tail end.

The larvae attack plants early in the season from the first two to six weeks. Some of the plants that they will attack are asparagus, beans, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, peas, potatoes, tomatoes and melons.

There are over two hundred and fifty plants from twenty nine families of plants that the cucumber beetle will attack, including flower and ornamental plants.

The adult cucumber beetle transmits bacterial mosaic and wilts. It is overwintered in the intestines of the beetle and when they start to feed again in the spring the disease gets transmitted to the plants.

Cucumber beetles like shade. It is important to check the underside if leaves to detect the presents of them and their eggs. Mulching plants with organic matter can help. What this does is create an environment to attract arthropods and other beneficial insects to defend against the cucumber beetle.

Predators that are beneficial in the control of cucumber beetles are lacewings and ladybugs. They eat the eggs of the cucumber beetle.

Other predators that help control the cucumber beetle are tachinid flies, soldier beetles, parasitic nematodes and braconid wasps. Bats are also a great defense against cucumber beetles and other insects.