Mitey Damage

This week in the Flog:

  • Still harvesting, but mites are everywhere!

Spider mites, broad mites, you name the mite I got it.

The spider mites are terrible here in Asia. This is one of those things that creeps up on you. At first you see one or two plants with some spots and some mite damage. You turn around a week later and half your garden is infested, leaves turning yellow from the damage already. Many leaves are just crawling with the spider mites. These voracious pests are one of the worst agricultural pest insects globally. Well, welcome to Patrick’s garden. Hrmph.

The worst vector for the spider mite expansion? Ants! I’ve observed ants “farming” the mites, carrying them, hovering around them, moving them, but not eating them like they should. It’s an amazing cooperative effort to observe, tragically to the detriment of my garden and pest control efforts. With ants supporting the spider mite population, control is a major issue.

And my pepper plants have a major problem! I didn’t realize what it was at first, all the new growth just shrivelled and died on the stem. The pepper plants grew amazingly and then just crimped and stopped. All the old leaves are fine, the whole plants are fine except for the new growth which is just shrivelled and dead.

So it took some time to figure out. This is such a warm climate, it’s perfect for mites. And it was a mite to blame. Broad mites! Not common except in warm climates, these things inject a toxin into the plant as they feed. They love the young fresh leaves, and the toxin mutilates them as a consequence. Ugh, what a bummer.

At first I wasn’t sure if that was really the problem – I don’t see anything with my naked eye. Mites are small but I have excellent vision! I can see the spider mites easily enough. Well good thing I have a microscope. It just took a quick look at the underside of a crinkled leaf to see, broad mites crawling around like little semi-transparent automatons, mechanically lumbering about their business under my giant gaze – oblivious.

So many mites. The Neem oil is working ok but I’m still seeing a lot of mites. So we need to amp it up a bit. Time to take out the toolkit – plants. I’m brewing a deterrent specifically for mites in an effort to thwart their advance. I’ll ferment each of these things separately:

  • Dill
  • Cilantro (Coriander)
  • Labuyo Chili
  • Parsnip (unavailable in Phil)
  • Fish (for the oil)
  • Coconut meal (for the oil)
  • Philodendron

Oils

I already have a batch of fish fertilizer, so I’ll skim a little off the top of that for the fish oil. I hope the fish oil helps with delivery and coating of the spray. I think it will – after fermenting, I noticed the fish oil rises to the top if you let it sit. If you shake it up, the solution is completely mixed and takes days for the oil to separate out again. This miscibility is a big factor in how well the oil will work in solution.

Coconut meal is a byproduct of the coconut oil industry here – it is the meat leftover after they squeeze all the oil out. It’s an incredible feed for animals and plants. It still contains around 10% (dependent on process used but mine is around 10%) oil, which has all the benefits of, well, coconut oil! But the oil is locked up in the coco meal flakes:

Homemade Insecticide - Part 1

coconut meal containing 10% coconut oil. Just need to extract it.

How to get it out? Ferment! This not only separates the oil out, it also makes it miscible with water (emulsion). This is huge since it will help with delivery. Now that it’s fermented, you have to leave it sitting for a few days for the oil to rise to the top. One good shake and the oil is back in solution and you have to wait again to get this:

Homemade Insecticide - Part 2

Oil/water have risen to the top after many days of fermenting

Plants

I’m so choked I can’t get Parsnip here in the Philippines, or at least everywhere I looked. It’s the only ingredient in my list that’s proven to contain mite-killing compounds, ha ha. The Dill, Cilantro, and Chili are known to deter mites. The Philodendron is a wildcard, I’m using it since it’s known to contain toxins and I’ve never seen it have pest problems. Here’s a shot of the remaining fish hydrolysate, dill, and pepper fermentations. You can see the red of the chili and green of Dill.

Homemade Insecticide - Part 3

Fish Hydrolysate, Dill and Chili fermentations. Notice the fats from the fish fertilizer have risen to the top.

They smell incredible. The Dill smells wonderfully dilly, the Cilantro smells like Mexico, the Chili smells hot (also kinda like Mexico), and the Philodendron smells….umm…aromatic? It has a strong smell but hard to place it. It’s pleasant though.

Several of these still need to finish fermenting so I’m still two weeks away from using these. In the meantime my garden will just have to wait a bit.

In a few weeks I’ll write a post on how to combine them and apply. Then we get to see how the mites react.

As you can see, I’m still feeling my way around this stuff too. I’ve been playing with it a long time but there is always more that I want to try, more experiments to do and things to learn. That’s why I started this site, so that I can bring people together who have these weird ideas also. I hope you share this thirst for knowledge and discovery – it’s what the unconventional farmer is all about. Start your own studies and let us know how they go.

  • Trish

    I have used a solution of dish washing up liquid in water and spray on. I also have successfully used diatomaceous earth and powdered plants with it. Lots of things hate the diatomaceous earth powder. I have used garlic and onion juice in the dish washing liquid spray but seriously it made the whole garden stink so I just kept up with the soapy water spray.

  • Bill F

    Standard Pest Control Mix: Simmer(covered)on low-med heat- (all ground as fine as possible) 1T Thyme, 1T Rosemary, 1 tsp cloves, 1 tsp red pepper(HOT), 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 dash of hot sauce and 1 T minced garlic in 3-4 Cups of water for a minimum of 30 min. Wear GLOVES as this CAN BURN skin. Let cool and strain. Squeeze all the goodness you can out of it with Gloves!
    Add 2-3 drops of Yucca extract or dish soap as a spreader. Dilution rates and additions vary according to use.
    Additions: (these can be added to simmer) kelp, 1/2tsp molasses(good to make it sticky for crawlers and fliers on soil surface, pots, plants, and in air), 1/2tsp Honey (sticky), 1/4 tsp vanilla extract.
    These can be added once cooled. LAB, Ginger-Garlic extract, Neem.
    Application rates vary from full strength to 2T/Qt or 30mL/L. TEST ALL plants for sensitivities PRIOR to broad application! Allow at least 24 hrs to determine no problems. Wearing Gloves, use as a fine or course spray, shaking well during entire application.
    Keep It Green :)

    • Trish

      I’m definitely going to try your recipe this year Bill F. :) Looks like it would smell much better than garlic and onion juice.

  • Patrick

    Thank you Bill and Trish for your recipes! I’m so glad you guys took the time to share with the rest of us, that’s what I was hoping to start with this post.

    Bill that’s a pretty impressive list of stuff, can’t wait to try it (or variation).. I’ll have to see how this goes first.

    Anyone else want to share their recipe?

    Patrick

  • Bill F

    It is kind of a long list eh? lol
    This is a multi-pest concoction but has been used successfully on mature fungus gnats, shore fly, white fly. I use beneficial nematodes (Steinernema feltiae) as a soil drench for fungus gnat larvae. Then after, I also use a 1/2-1 inch layer of par boiled rice hulls mixed with Diatomaceous Earth as mulch on top of pots. This way I can spray pots and soil surface for mature gnats without harming my shallow feeding nematodes. I don’t use the Neem in this application.

    I have also used the same recipe in an alcohol extraction. 100ml grain alcohol with ingredients ground fine and added to jar with lid. Let sit for 3-4 days, shaking it up every time ya can think about it. Evap alcohol and your left with a sticky goo. DO NOT get this on you. It WILL burn skin. Add small amount of hot water and dissolve the goo into the liquid. Add 500 mL water and that’s the concentrate. Same rules and precautions as above.

    I have purchased about every brand of organic pest control product available. My list of ingredients is based on several of my favorite store bought sources.

    MITES! AHHHHHH! I’ve tried many, many products to control spider mites and two-spotters. I have even dipped entire plants, pots and all, in a strong 30 gallon solution of neem extract and pyola. For 30 minutes each, and still couldn’t ever totally defeat the mites.

    My final solution to mites. Get rid of all plants, pots with soil, and thoroughly clean the entire area. Then apply a professional(I have State P.C. Applicators license), Organic structural pest control product to area (Not plants.) Then… Start over :(

    Still give my concoction a try Patrick, I’m sure it would have some positive effects used at safe levels.

    • Patrick

      Ugh. Those mites are killer. Man that sucks I hope I don’t have to start over! I’m going to keep trying. Thanks for the feedback Bill that is great info for me and everyone reading!

      Patrick

  • Bill F.

    Off topic: Hey Patrick,Gil and everyone in the area affected by the Typhoon. Want to send you Good Vibes,Hope,Prayers and best wishes. Let ya know even us farm folk in the Midwest U.S. are aware, and care.

    It’s enough to bring a man to tears, seeing the devastation. Just hoping You and Yours are all O.K.

    Anything I can do, Shoot me an e-mail if you are able.

    • Patrick

      Hey Bill, thanks so much for your note. The typhoon was pretty devastating. Thankfully we were safe. Just keep farming as naturally as possible – the Philippines is the 3rd most susceptible country to global warming effects, so we can all pitch in on that front.

      Cheers,
      Patrick

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