Growing cannabis plants is often a process which can take six to seven months – but at the end of the growth cycle, you know that the plants that you are going to get are going to be a labour of your love. These plants that you grow yourself tend to be quite a delight and generally tend to offer you better-quality weed at the end of the growth cycle than you would get when you buy it from the street. This is because when you grow your own weed, you are providing the right amount of light, air, water and nutrients that the plant needs – you also provided it with the optimal growing environment, etc. However, despite all of this it would totally break your heart if a hemp russet mite invasion ends up damaging your plants right when they are reaching full maturity!
Pest and insect invasions can be very tricky for growers as they need to be very careful and attentive about them! Sometimes they don’t even know that their plant has been invaded till the damage is visible – and it just might be too late to save them. In this article, we shall specifically be discussing how to identify and control hemp russet mite damage, which is one of the most common types of pests to invade and damage your cannabis plants!
Over the course of this article, we shall discuss what pests are the damage that they can do to your plants, we shall also be discussing on ways in which you can identify them and prevent their invasion – and lastly, we shall also talk about the ways in which you can ensure that even if they have invaded your plants, how can you save them.
What Are Hemp Russet Mites?
Similar to spider mites that we have talked about in the past, these Hemp Russets are also mites – but they belong to the family of eriophyid and can be quite dangerous for your crops. While hemp russets belong to eriophyid mites, not all eriophyid are hemp russets because there are about 100 different types of these mites. Blister mites and Gall mites are two other popular mites from this family which you might have heard of. Hemp Russets are a specific type of Russet mites which affect the cannabis plants the most. While they have been known to attack other plants too, their effect is most dangerous on weed.
These are among the hardest mites to spot as they do not leave webs similar to the spider mites that we have seen in the past. Furthermore, they also reproduce at a greater speed meaning the infestation will last longer than usual. The whole cycle of growth from being an egg to a full-grown mite takes about two weeks in most cases, thereby increasing their population on any given plant rapidly.
The problem with these bugs (as we shall see in detail in the next section) is that by the time you know that you have been infested by them, it might already be too late because by the time you begin to notice signs of an infection, these microscopic plants can potentially damage your plants significantly. Let us take a look at how you can detect them and how to control the damage.
How To Identify Hemp Russet Mites On Your Cannabis Plants?
Ok so as mentioned above, these mites tend to be very small. Moreover, unlike other kinds of mites which leave certain residues or webbings behind, they leave no such kind of a trace and are hence very difficult to track. Furthermore, they are so tiny that it is impossible to see them by the naked eye unless there are like hundreds or thousands of them already infecting your plant. When you observe them under a magnifying glass or a microscope you will then realize how small they are!
When zoomed upon properly, you will realize that these mites are light yellow to light green in the color spectrum, making them able to easily hide within the leaves and camouflage themselves really well. One of their biggest and the most ‘standout’ trait is that these are mites which have only two legs, which makes it easy to differentiate between them and other similar looking pests. Unlike many other mites, their body shape is not round but is actually a little elongated.
Another thing that you must keep in mind is that while these mites will be seen all around the year, summer – and more specifically, late summer, is when their terror is at its peak. It is not enough to just know how they look like and when they breed – you must also know the areas that they tend to be found in your plant. Unlike other mites and pests which tend to live on the leaves or the lower side of the leaves, these bugs love to hide. Usually, during the winter seasons, they tend to hide in whichever crevice and the gap they can find in the plants – be it in leaves, buds, or most commonly – stems. In fact, they can spend an entire winter in your plant and you might never even know that you had these pests hiding their right till they start attacking the plant’s foliage and flowers.
One final thing that we need to talk about is that unlike other mites and pests which tend to live on the leaves or the lower side of the leaves, these bugs love to hide. Usually, during the winter seasons, they tend to hide in whichever crevice and the gap they can find in the plants – be it in leaves, buds, or most commonly – stems. In fact, they can spend an entire winter in your plant and you might never even know that you had these pests hiding their right till they start attacking the plant’s foliage and flowers.
How Do Hemp Russet Mites Damage Your Cannabis Plant?
The damage caused by hemp russet mites to your cannabis plant is pretty similar to how other mites would do it. These pests use the sharp parts of their mouth to pierce through the surface cellular region of the plant’s cells and then consume the liquids. The first signs of damage begin to appear when you notice that the upper edges of your marijuana plants’ leaves are beginning to get curled up. The color of your leaves will start becoming a little duller than usual over time.
Bigger signs begin to appear when spots begin to appear on the leaves of your cannabis plant which are yellow or dark in color. One oddity which these mites tend to have when compared to other marijuana pests is that since they are usually found dwelling in the crevices of stems, you will notice that the plant’s stems also start losing color. The key factor here is the curling of leaves – which you need to keep an eye out for. Many growers tend to misunderstand this curling happening due to a deficiency of nutrients. However, that just might not be the case and your plants might be infested by these hemp russet mites. Lastly, the flowers and the buds are another portions where these mites eventually move up to and will begin damaging them. Russet Mites love resin and would feed on it till it is completely drained out!
One of the key reasons as to why they can damage and destroy your plant with such vigour is because they tend to reproduce really fast. Eggs of these mites hatch within a matter of days – most of them hatching in two days. The larvae take another 3-4 days to mature into the nymph stage and another 5-6 days later you get the full-grown hemp russet mites! The whole process from being an egg to being a full-grown mite takes about 2 weeks so the population continues to double every few days and keeps affecting the plants. The adult then has a lifespan of about 3 weeks by which generations of new mites have been produced which will continue to damage the plant.
These mites tend to travel from one part of the plant to another – or from one plant to another with the help of the wind. Hence, if you spot that your plants have a hemp russet mite infection, do not try to use a blower to blow them away because that way you would actually be helping them spread on more plants! Let us now look at two things – first off, how to prevent this infestation (how to make sure it does not happen at all), and secondly, how to control this infestation once it happens and how to save your plants from these mites once they have decided to make your plant their home.
How to Prevent an Invasion By Hemp Russet Mites?
Prevention is always better than cure! Here are a few tips and tricks that you could make use of to make sure that these mites are not infesting (and will continue to not infest) your plants.
- For Outdoor Growers
Outdoor growers (and those growing in greenhouses) are generally at a greater risk of this infection than indoor growers. So the first step would be to make sure that you are using high-quality potting soil which does not have any problem of mites and has been treated to ensure there are no pre-existing pests (or their eggs) in them. One common mistake that growers make is that sometimes in their enthusiasm (especially new growers) tend to provide excess nutrients – and excess nitrogen would sometimes lead to foliage growing on the soil which attracts these mites. These are some things you need to avoid.
- For Indoor Growers
When growing indoors, you are generally at a lower risk of getting these pests infect your plants. However, if they accidentally make their way in they become very hard to get out and hence you need to be extra careful. Make sure you are using good quality grow tents and are keeping your room clean. When introducing new plants in your grow room or your grow tent, you need to make sure that they have been treated properly and confirm with the sellers if there have been any mite-related problems in the past. If you know one of your grow tents has been infected, make sure you take it to another room and that all the other tents are tightly shut while you open that one.
How to Control Hemp Russet Mite Damage Once an Invasion Begins?
Finally coming to how to control hemp russet mite damage on your cannabis plants, the first thing that you need to acknowledge is that once it intensifies, there are few chances of you being able to save your plant. While it is not impossible it might get quite hard if the population of these mites is too high. In extreme cases, you might need to discard and throw away an entire plant, pot, and soil because mites have infected it. However, that is an exceptional case but you do need to know of it.
Coming to most usual cases, multiple treatment attempts can prove to be quite successful against an infestation that hasn’t peaked. Treating your plant with solutions mentioned below daily or multiple times a week will help you control this infestation to a great extent. We also suggest growers to continue treating their plants with these solutions for at least a month even after the infestation has died down just to remain extra cautious that they do not happen again due to some eggs that have been left behind.
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1. Neem Oil:
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The first thing that you need to try out in order to control this infestation by Hemp Russet Mites is the use of Neem Oil. This oil has proven to be effective numerous times in the past against several different kinds of mites and it is effective against these mites as well. This is useful on leaves and stems but not on flowers and buds because it tends to leave a bitter taste behind and you don’t want your flowers getting that bad taste. Get a mister and prepare a solution along with water and spray this oil on the leaves and areas where this infestation has happened.
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Insecticidal soaps are another common way of dealing with most kinds of mites but they have proven to be somewhat less effective in terms of large infestations of russet mites. However if you are able to catch them in an early stage, this might be a good option as using these soaps is a pretty good way to deal with pests of a young phase. Moreover, you can also create a solution made out of garlic and mix it with water and mix the combined solution with these soaps in order to get a better and stronger effect against these pests on your plants.
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Insecticides can be of a decent use when it comes to treating pests – but this one specifically is known to show some effectiveness against early-stage hemp russet mite attacks. The word in the markets is that Essentria IC3 is essentially a ‘bed bug’ killer – but it offers far more than just that. One problem with this is that the effects of this spray are valid only for 8 hours so you will either need to mix it with other solutions or continue spraying it rather frequently. However, you don’t need to worry about its effects on the plants or on humans as it has been found to be completely safe for humans as it is made out of various oil extracts.
Miticides – Avid and Forbid:
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When dealing with mites there are some special kinds of insecticides which you could make use of to tackle them. These are called miticides. Here are two of them which we have found to be pretty effective against these russet mites.
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Avid is one of the strongest solutions that you can buy off the web to kill these mites. Growers must know that certain harsh chemicals are used to prepare this solution and under no circumstances should you spray it on or near your buds. Most growers prefer not to use this during the flowering stages. This is a last-resort solution which has to be used only on the leaves during the vegetative stages of the plant, and that too using a mister. Make sure you are following all the instructions on the bottle carefully before use.
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Similar to avid, forbid is also a miticide and even this one makes use of certain harsh chemicals and is a pretty strong solution. However, the mechanism that forbid functions upon is somewhat different in comparison to avid. Forbid enters the plant tissue and acts against the mites from there. Again, similar instructions are to be followed for this miticide as well and you need to make sure that you are not using it during the flowering stage or on buds/flowers.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Russet Mite Damage and Control
Here are the answers to some common and frequently asked questions about these pests and their invasions:
1. Can these mites affect indoor plants?
Yes, russet mites can affect indoor plants too – but that usually happens when you get a plant which is pre-infested and place it among other plants which are healthier. Then with the air circulation some mites might spread from one plant to another and increase their population there to infest them.
2. What are the top symptoms that tell you that your plants are infested by these hemp russet mites?
The most critical sign of these specific mites is that the extremities of the plants (tops of the leaves) will have the most visible damage and they will begin to curl. If left unchecked and uncontrolled the entire top portion of the plant will begin to droop – and if it continues the flowers and buds will get damaged and sometimes might even fall off. Dull colored or yellow colored spots on the leaves might also be another major indicator of this infestation.
3. Is Neem Oil safe to use?
Yes, neem oil is totally safe to use but it should be avoided on portions which you are going to consume such as buds and flowers. It can be sprayed on the leaves using a mister and it can actually be quite effective against killing off pests such as spider mites and russet mites which otherwise might damage a lot of your plant!
To conclude, we just want to comment that we hope this article helps you gain a much better insight into how to deal with the problem of hemp russet mites and how can you ensure that they do not damage your plants. Dealing with these mites can be quite difficult at times as growers sometimes are not even able to detect them till it gets too late owing to their small size and rapid reproduction rate – which when put together make for quite a deadly combination. If you have any more queries about this topic, do let us know in the comments section or drop us a mail and we shall get back to you soon! Till then…
…Happy Growing! 🙂