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How To Deal With Broad Mites On Cannabis Plants

Cannabis plants aren’t immune to pests. However, by acting fast and using the right treatment, you can minimise the damage of even the toughest pests, including broad and russet mites.

Russet and broad mites are tiny garden pests that can wreak havoc on cannabis plants, stunting their growth and destroying your yields.

In this article, we take a look at both broad and russet mites and show you exactly how to treat them.

WHAT ARE BROAD/RUSSET MITES?

Broad mites, also known as Polyphagotarsonemus latus, are a garden pest that can be regularly found on a variety of plants, including grape vines, apple trees, and of course, cannabis.

Despite their name, broad mites are tiny, with female mites measuring roughly 0.2mm and males measuring only 0.1mm. They can be found around the world, especially in greenhouses.

On cannabis plants, broad mites tend to lay eggs on the underside of new leaves. This is usually where they dwell and feed, leaving behind a toxic saliva that causes malformations and stunts the development of cannabis plants.

Russet mites, or Aceria anthocoptes, are another type of microscopic mite that can affect cannabis and hemp plants.

Similar to broad mites, russet mites measure about 0.17mm. However, they tend to dwell on lower parts of the plant, gradually working their way up, feeding off lower leaves and foliage.

Russet mites feed off sap from the plant, slowly robbing it of nutrients. This in turn stunts the plant’s growth, affecting its ability to flower come harvest time. Unlike broad mites, however, they are particularly attracted to flower resin, meaning they’ll often attack cannabis buds.

What makes broad and russet mite infestations so detrimental is the fact that the mites aren’t visible to the naked eye. Plus, the symptoms of these mites are similar to those of nutrient deficiencies or pH imbalances, making them even harder to detect.

The symptoms of russet and broad mites are usually characterised by yellowing foliage and stems, curling and/or drooping leaves, and stunted growth. Foliage affected by these mites might appear glossy or wet-looking, while buds will begin to brown and eventually die.

If left unchecked, both mites will continue to spread and reproduce, ultimately sapping an entire plant.

HOW TO TREAT BROAD OR RUSSET MITES IN CANNABIS PLANTS

If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above in your plants, it’s important you quickly identify the root cause of your problem.

Using at least 60x magnification, closely inspect the affected parts of your plants to identify the mites.

Remember, the symptoms of a mite infestation are similar to nutrient deficiencies and pH imbalances. Hence, you’ll want to make sure you’re 100% sure you’re dealing with mites before starting a treatment.

Once you’ve identified mites as the cause, it’s time to treat your plants. Here are some different treatment methods for dealing with broad or russet mites on cannabis plants.

NEEM OIL

Neem oil is a great all-around solution for a wide variety of pests, including broad and russet mites. It is available from most grow shops and gardening supply stores.

Using neem oil is simple; just mix it in a mister according to the packet instructions and apply to the affected areas of your plant.

Keep in mind that neem oil will leave behind an unpleasant taste, so always avoid spraying it on your buds.

Also, while neem oil is an all-natural form of pest control, it can be very harsh. Hence, you won’t want to use it for much longer than necessary.

To limit your use of neem oil, we recommend applying it to your plants once, then monitoring their progress over the next 1-2 days before applying the oil a second time.

Pay close attention to the areas of your plants affected by the mites and make sure to check them with magnification after your first round of treatment. Then repeat this process as necessary until the mites are gone.

If you’re dealing with a hardcore infestation, feel free to apply neem oil on a daily basis. This will eventually kill off both broad and russet mites. Just remember that it’ll also put your plants under a lot of stress, so they’ll need a bit of extra TLC after the treatment is through.

Neem oil serves as a completely natural way to protect your cannabis plants against pests.

Neem oil serves as a completely natural way to protect your cannabis plants against pests.

ORGANIC INSECTICIDES

If neem oil isn’t enough to protect your plants from mites, we recommend using a natural insecticide like:

  • Essentria IC3: Essentria IC3 is made up of a mix of horticultural oils designed to manage a variety of garden pests. It can be applied directly to the plants using a mister and should be reapplied every 8-12 hours until the mites disappear.
  • Spinosad: Spinosad is an organic insecticide that kills pests on contact. Try applying it directly to the affected parts of your plant once a day for multiple days until the mites are gone.

INSECTICIDAL SOAPS

Insecticidal plant soaps are great for spot-treating parts of your plants affected by russet/broad mites.

This makes them ideal for use on smaller infestations as well as flowering plants. Just make sure to avoid getting the soap on your buds. Consider using them multiple times for best results.

OTHER OILS

Both essential plant oils and horticultural oils are becoming increasingly popular, especially among gardeners looking to avoid the harsh chemicals of regular insecticides. Some common natural oils used to control garden pests include eucalyptus, rosemary, lemon, and cinnamon.

Just like neem oil, these oils can be mixed with water and applied liberally to the foliage of your plants with a mister. Just remember that these oils possess strong aromatic qualities that will affect the flavour and aroma of your plants; so avoid getting them on buds.

CHEMICAL INSECTICIDES

Unfortunately, sometimes mites can be so hard to deal with they leave you no choice but to turn to time-tested chemical insecticides.

While these products contain harsh chemicals that’ll stress your plants and produce potentially toxic run-off, they are extremely effective at dealing with a wide variety of garden pests.

Most of these products are designed to be applied to the affected parts of the plants and left to work for extended periods of time. In some cases, you may need multiple applications to ensure the mites have left your plants.

After that, remember to thoroughly flush your soil. Then you can pump-up your nutrient routine again.

PREVENTING BROAD/RUSSET MITES IN THE FUTURE

When it comes to dealing with garden pests, it’s always better to prevent than treat. Therefore, always make sure your plants are growing in a good environment with plenty of ventilation/circulation and the right temperature/humidity levels.

Plus, always make sure to inspect your plants regularly and act quickly as soon as you see any signs of stress. Mite infestations are much easier to handle when caught early.

Russet and broad mites commonly affect cannabis, destroying growth and ruining yields. In this blog, we explain how to treat and prevent broad/russet mites.

Most Common Pests In Cannabis: Broad Mites

Broad mites are extremely small bugs that can attack your crops and even though they weren’t as common as other pests in cannabis, their appearance in cannabis crops indoors and outdoors has increased lately, as cannabis becomes legalized and more popular.

1. What are broad mites?

Broad mites are scientifically known as Polyphagotarsonemus latus , they occur mainly in temperate climates and can attack a wide range of plants, from vegetables to fruits to ornamental plants but it wasn’t common to see them on cannabis crops until cannabis became more popular and growing cannabis more and more legalized.

These microscopic species of mites are found especially in fruit crops but also affect cannabis plants. They feed on your plant, leaving behind their toxic saliva, and because they’re tiny, it’s super hard to spot and deal with them.

2. What do Broad mites look like?

Broad mites belong to the family of mites, just like spider mites and russet mites they have four pairs of legs, a medium-sized mandible and they’re of a yellowish-white with white hairs on their body but are considerably smaller, unlike other mites, broad mites are almost imperceptible to the naked eye so you need a microscope to identify them.

Without special equipment, you’ll only be able to spot them once their population has grown too much and you can see the egg clusters throughout your plant, we recommend being 100% certain of the type of mite you have before starting the treatment.

Cannabis plants can suffer from three different mites, here’s a table to help you identify them properly.

Broad Mites Russet Mites Spider Mites
Size 0.2mm 0.17mm 1mm
Color Brown, yellow or white Milky-white, beige or yellow Reddish-brown or greenish-yellow
Appearance Oval-shaped with 6 legs Elongated with 4 legs Rounded with 8 legs

Just make sure you don’t mistake broad mites for russet or spider mites, even though these bugs look similar and the symptoms look practically the same, it’s essential you identify them before starting the treatment.

3. Where are broad mites found?

Because of their tiny size, broad mites can hide in the crevices of the branches and besides the “veins” of the leaves, but they prefer the newer growth to lay their eggs so if you suspect they’re attacking your plants, you will most likely spot them on the underside of the new leaves and branches.

Be 100% sure you’re dealing with broad mites before starting treating your cannabis plants. Broad mites are microscopic so you need a loupe or a microscope to be able to start and deal with them before the infestation gets out of control.

It’s worth to invest in a tool to identify a broad mite infestation early, before it gets out of control.

4. What do Broad mites do?

Even though mites are a source of infections, the main damage comes from their bites 1 .

Broad mites suck out the nutrients from the leaves and branches which inhibits photosynthesis and also drain all other liquids from the plants, stunting growth and ultimately killing the leaves and every other affected part.

These insects also leave their saliva behind, these wet spots combined with the damage from their bites can cause easily serious diseases and the appearance of fungi.

5. Broad mites symptoms

Because these bugs are super hard to see with the naked eye, you can easily confuse the symptoms for:

  • Heat stress ;
  • Overwatering;
  • pH problems;
  • Root problems;
  • or other signs of deficiencies.

There are a couple of ways to know what’s really going on.

The first sign that can guide you into knowing if your plants are being attacked by broad mites is if the affected plant growth is the newer one, broad mites prefer new plant growth to lay their eggs and feed on so if you see the top part of your plant has a wet look, the new leaves are growing twisted or you see yellow spots on the top leaves, it’s most likely because you have broad mites.

Also, as the infection progresses, you will see the leaves starting to curl up and the leaves browning and the tips dying, if your plant is already flowering and the mites attack the buds, you’ll see them turning brown and dying, so it’s essential to take action as soon as you see early symptoms.

6. How to prevent them?

Preventing broad mites can be hard because they can come with animals, with the wind or infected clones.

If you think you can suffer from this mites, you’ll have to spray regularly with neem oil or a pesticide of your choice, have in mind that spraying your plants regularly can stress your plants so it’s better to do it with organic products and if you are sure they can attack your plants.

7. How to deal with them?

If you’re already suffering from a broad mite infection, it’s essential you take action immediately.

The first thing you should do after identifying 2 you have these mites on your plants is removing the infected parts, this will reduce the population and prevent it from spreading to the rest of the plant and to the other plants around.

After removing the infected parts of your plant, you’ll have to start a treatment, you will have to spray with insecticidal products up to 3-4 times a week or even daily, depending on the gravity of the infestation, remember that spraying with the lights on can burn your plants so it’s better to do it when the lights are turned off.

Even if you think you have completely eliminated them, continue spraying for 4-5 weeks more, this will prevent them from coming back, it’s crucial they don’t come back because the second time they’ll be resistant to the product you’ve been using and you have to buy another one and this can have a toll on your plant so after you’re 100% sure you’ve taken care of them all continue the treatment for up to a month after they’re gone.

8. In conclusion

Broad mites are just like every other mite but due to their microscopic size, it can be extremely hard to spot them without the proper equipment if you see the newer plant growth developing with yellow spots or with deformed leaves, make sure you take the actions needed as soon as possible.

If you have tips or tricks to help fellow growers get rid of broad mites, please leave us a comment below!

Broad mites are extremely tiny insects that feed on the content of the newer plant growth and can end up killing your plant if not spotted early.