Russet Mites – What are They and How Do You Get Rid Of Them?:
Growing marijuana plants can be tricky for many reasons, and there are almost too many potential ways your grow season could go wrong to keep count! If you’re a newbie grower, it may seem overwhelming, but the fact is, all you have to do is prepare. Learn about all the different pests, diseases, and other issues that could go wrong, and you’ll be on your way to success.
One pest you should definitely learn about is the Russet Mite. Russet mites are tiny but powerful. Their ability to destroy your precious marijuana plants comes from the fact that there’s never just one russet mite -- there are usually hundreds before you even notice an infestation. This can lead to a number of problems, so better to be safe than sorry and learn a bit about them before you have the problem.
What are Russet Mites?
Russet mites are extremely small. Don’t expect to see the first one that comes, because they’re nearly too small even to be seen with the naked eye. Russet mites can cause your plants to undergo some major damage.
Often growers will only start to notice russet mites by the damage they are causing. When they attack, it might seem like something invisible is causing your plants harm. More likely, it is the russet mite. Russet mites that live on marijuana plants are the Aculops cannabicola, also known as the “hemp russet mite.” They are close relatives to the tomato russet mite.
Russet mites start by munching the leaves towards the bottom of your plant, eventually eating their way upwards until they reach the top (and yes, that includes the flowers if your plants are in their flowering phase). Russet mites tend to prefer climates that are dry and warm, just like spider mites do.
How to recognize a Russet Mite problem
Your plants will start exhibiting some characteristic signs showing that they are likely suffering from a russet mite problem. The leaves and stems will start getting dry and turning a bronze color and curling of the leaves is very common. In fact, people often don’t recognize the russet mites right away from these early signs, simply because they assume it could be caused by something else (such as watering, nutrient, or heating issues).
If you start to see the leaves at the bottom of your plant showing these symptoms, you’d better take a closer look to see what is going on. Bring out your Jeweler’s Loupe (and if you don’t own one, buy one) and look not at the leaves that are already curling and damaged, but at the ones up a level. Even if you’re having trouble seeing these pesky insects, they still might be there, hiding and feasting. They’re extremely small and easy to miss, and they don’t leave characteristic “bites” like other types of pests do. If you spot little white wormy-looking things, you’ve found the russet mites.
Why are they a problem?
Russet mites can go from annoying to devastating in a very short amount of time. In the worst-case scenario, your entire crop of marijuana plants could be ruined from one infestation. If you have heard of anyone near you having a russet mite problem, there is a very high chance that your plants will have it too. That means you should start treatments right away, just to be sure (see below).
Russet mites are so infectious because they are small enough to hitch a ride on just about anything. This includes clothing, seeds, the wind, dried plant matter, and more. It’s considered one of the most dreaded pests out there for marijuana plants, so it’s important to take them seriously. They will eat away your plants quickly and effectively and then spread to other nearby plants.
One of the major issues with russet mites is the fact that they are basically impossible to detect until they have already stuck around for a while. First, they will lay eggs on the undersides of your plants’ leaves, where the larvae will hatch from. These little larvae will start eating in a circle around their egg, which you should theoretically be able to recognize if you inspect your plants in time. They will be brown in color.
More likely, you’ll notice the mites once they have already started to cause discoloration and brown spotting in your plants. If it’s here already, these buggers have been living on your plants for two months already! The worst part of the russet mites’ lives on your plants comes next - when they start really destroying the leaves and stems. Once you start noticing this stage, it may already be too late to save the plant.
How to get rid of Russet Mites
As devastating as russet mites are, there are a number of ways that you can try to solve your russet mite problem.
To begin with, try neem oil (but don’t use it near your buds or it could ruin the flavor). It’s a natural product (but potentially dangerous to humans, so be careful) that works for a lot of different pests. Don’t use it too often though because it can cause some damage to your plants.
You can purchase and introduce different types of mites that prey on russet mites. This is great because it won’t damage your plants at all and it’s a more natural way of handling the problem. However, it may not fix the problem 100%, so better to use it in combination with another form of treatment.
Another chemical-free treatment is to dunk your plants in hot water (105 degrees Fahrenheit) for around 15 minutes. If you’re growing indoors, you could even heat up your grow room to 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Russet mites don’t like these extremely hot temperatures.
This is as prehistoric as it sounds. It’s a kind of dust made from fossils that can simply be sprinkled around the soil and area where your plants are growing. Microscopic creatures hate it, so it works well for prevention and control (but not complete decimation of the mites, unfortunately).
Not all miticides are effective, but some are worth the money and time. Forbid, Avid, Mighty Wash, or insecticidal soaps are all more effective, but also more damaging to your plants and the environment. Each type is different, so do your homework -- some are extremely expensive while also being extremely effective, so it depends on how valuable your plants are to you.