Whenever I lecture about house plants, I get questions about insects. And I always joke that we know Stephen King isn’t a gardener–and the way we know this is because some of our common garden and house plant insects are so scary that he could write novels about them alone.
I will never forget one of the original X-Files shows. It was about a giant flatworm. The concept doesn’t sound scary but it was enough to make me stop watching the series forever. I said to The Spoiler–nope. I have to garden with those things.
I was a little appalled when I saw this. I had been closely monitoring this plant. I had seen these flowers wilting one day.
On the second day, the whole plant was wilted. So I gave it lots of water and it revived. Today when I re-visited it to check it for dryness, this is what I found–the entire flower stem covered in webs and spider mites–visible spider mites.
Spider mites are funny creatures. They love warmth, dryness (lack of humidity) and they reproduce every three days. They’re members of the arachnid family–true little spiders.
Some make webs and others don’t. You’re lucky if they make webs–you stand a chance of spotting them quickly.
Still, these are on a plant that’s just a seasonal-type plant that I would quickly discard if it were mine. It’s in my office hallway with several other mums–so no real loss if anything else there gets infected. But I moved them out of the way just to be sure until I have permission to discard them.
What does this tell us? Check your plants–even at times when it seems as if they are not actively growing. Plant pests can become active and get out of hand very quickly–and if you’re not careful, you’ll lose a plant you care about!
When I grew citrus trees, It was intriguing to see how red spider mites (which do not make webs) preferred particular cultivars. They ignored some, but thoroughly infested every corner of rectangular blocks of those they liked.
I am sure that’s true. They seem to like my calamondin orange and kumquat–which last year were in 2 different rooms and yet developed the same critter. I probably accidentally carried them there on my watering can–or on the sleeve of a sweater. Who knows.
This year I decided all the citrus are living in the same window. They are so problematic, it makes them easier to monitor.
But of course, all the problems have been elsewhere so far….