How to Control Strawberry Spider Mitesby Marylee Gowans
Growing your own strawberries (Fragraria spp.) provides you with sweet and juicy berries. It also means you are responsible for ensuring the plant is free from diseases and pests. Spider mites (Tetranychus spp.) are common pests of strawberry plants -- which grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9 -- feeding on the phloem sap by piercing tender parts of the plant and sucking the sap out. Their feeding leads to bronzing of the leaves and poor berry production. Because you eat strawberries, it's especially important that anything you use to control mites is safe for you and your family.
Items you will need
- Water hose
- Dill, fennel or yarrow seeds, seedlings or plants
- 5-gallon bucket
- Horticultural oil
- Pump sprayer
Cultural ControlStep 1
Water the strawberry plants during dry periods ensuring they receive 1 to 1/2 inches of water each week. Water-stressed plants are more susceptible to pest infestations.
Spray the strawberry plants with a steady stream of water from a garden hose to knock spider mites off the plants. This will help control small infestations of mites if repeated every few days.
Keep the area near and around strawberry plants free of weeds. Weeds act as a host and hiding place for common garden pests, such as spider mites.
Plant dill (Anethum graveolens), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) or yarrow (Achillea millefolium) near the strawberry plants. These annual plants attract ladybugs and lacewings, which will prey on the spider mites.
Chemical ControlStep 1
Put 1 gallon of water in a 5-gallon bucket.
Add 1 1/4 ounces of horticultural oil to the water and stir until mixed.
Pour the solution carefully into the pump sprayer.
Spray the strawberry plants with the solution, completely coating the tops and undersides of all leaves. Reapply a fresh mixture after 30 days, if needed. Spray on a calm, dry day when temperatures are between 40 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Always follow the directions on the horticultural oil label for best results.
- Wear long-sleeved shirt, long pants, sturdy shoes, socks and waterproof gloves when using or handling any kind of pesticide.
- Keep children and pets out of the area where you're using pesticides.
- Always check the label for information on when it's safe to pick and eat any fruit you've sprayed with chemicals.
- University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program: Strawberry Spider Mites
- Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service: Growing Strawberries
- University of California Santa Barbara County Cooperative Extension : Spider Mites and their Management in Strawberries
- University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program: Biological Control and Natural Enemies
- UCDavis Good Life Garden: Fighting Pests With…Pests!
- Bonide: All Seasons Horticultural and Dormant Spray Oil
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images