If you are seeing small cloudy-looking webs on many of your evergreen and other shrubs and even in the grass, you probably have spider mites. Because of the dry weather, these tiny pests are multiplying rapidly.
Along with aphids and white flies we have a war on our hands — but it is a war we can win, and by our sides are allies who are doing their part to help us eliminate the enemy.
These valiant warriors are ladybugs, praying mantis, birds and spiders. Yes, spiders eat spider mites even though these tiny creatures that are no bigger than a speck of pepper are arachnids, part of their family.
To know for certain if what you have are spider mites, take a sheet of white paper, hold it under the leaves or needles of the plant and shake the plant. If you see specks of black, brown, yellow or red on your paper, you are being visited by these uninvited guests whose plan is to stay permanently. And, yes, they like grass too, so those webs in the lawn are family members who especially have a taste for turf grass.
All three of these pests have sucking mouth parts, and because of their huge numbers, they can defoliate a plant in no time at all. They have natural predators as I mentioned above, and your hose is another way to get rid of them.
•Spray the pests away. These critters do not have the ability to attach themselves securely to your plants, so a strong stream of water can wash them off. They have soft bodies, so they are pretty easily killed.
•They are proliferating because it is so dry, so watering your plants regularly until it rains will help eliminate them.
•If you see webs forming again or more aphid activity, continue the regimen of spraying the plant. Do this to the grass as well until you do not see any more webs.
Aphid appetites are broader and they love lots of different plants — but they seem to love roses the best.
They are messy eaters and leave a residue that is sticky and shiny (this is called honeydew) plus you can see them more easily with the naked eye as they tend to cluster on the stems and underside of the leaves on your plants.
Once you identify these little guys, get out the hose and wash them off the plant. Make sure to wash the underside of leaves as well.
Often you can identify an aphid infestation when you see ladybug and lacewing activity near a plant.
White flies will look like a tiny (less than an eighth of an inch long) white or pale yellow flying insect or like a small piece of rice. These are trickier to deal with, but here are some tips:
•Insecticidal soap will kill adults and nymphs, but not the eggs and pupae. Horticultural oil will take care of adults, nymphs, and most of the eggs, but not the pupae.
•To eliminate as many of them as possible, it is best to apply either or both of these remedies three times, five days apart. The idea is to kill the adults that lay the eggs and stop the cycle completely. Watch closely and continue the treatments if you still see activity.
All these pests can infest indoor plants as well, so check before taking them indoors and treat them as you would your outside plants.