With summer coming its time to keep a close eye out for some insects and mites which if left unchecked can cause major yield reduction and possible crop failure .The number one pest is probably going to be spider mite and red mite ,these are tiny mite that live on the leaves of plants and when in dense enough populations make a web like structure that they use as a highway to the tips of your plant sucking the life out of it .As temperatures increase so accelerates the life cycle of this little mite .This alone should give you a big clue in avoidance rather than the cure .Keep your Hydroponic grow rooms cool and have plenty of AIR movement above and below the canopy trying to avoid blowing directly onto your plants as this will strip water from them especially in the early stages .The first signs of these mite are going to be small white dots appearing on your leaf surface .On inspection you will see (may need a magnifying glass )small round creatures cruising around .These are the mite .If you can see webs this is quite late in the infestation .You have two choices Chemical or Biological .If you have numbers of 1-2 mite per leaf (this is very low numbers)then you can use biological controls such as Phytoseiulus Persimilis or galendromus occidentalis which are predatory and will eat you pest population .Then there is option two the spray ,this can be broken down into two parts the chemical and surfactant type spray .For Chemical sprays stick with something that is meant for mite not insects as they are usually quite different class of chemicals ,miterid ,omite ,pyranica or killamite are all good examples of these products .Sufactant sprays are sprays that coat the creatures carapace and suffocate it .these generally are soap or oil based and not as effective as the chemical alternative but they are safer to use .Please follow all instructions on the bottle you use as you can poison yourself and plants if your not careful
Aphids are an insect and are members of the family Aphidoidea . These are visible to the eye and are usually quite easy to spot compared to spider mite and thrips .They have a soft body that is around 2mm but can be up to 4mm long and are easily identifiable even though they can be a variety of colours depending on the species and the time of year ,Generally they will be a greenish colour but can go from anything from black to yellow some may even have wings these sap sucking insects all have conical abdomens .These insects often live and congregate on fresh younger shoots and flower buds but can also inhabit the undersides of older leaves .They are generally dormant over winter and start to breed again in spring as the weather gets warmer .
Eradication of these aphids can be broken up into two categories the first being IPM in which other predatory insects or biological controls are introduced into the garden to control these problematic insects .These controls may include , lacewings and predatory wasps .The ladybugs and lace wings will use the aphids as a food source where the parasitic wasps will lay their eggs in the aphid and it will become a food source for the developing wasp larvae .The second of these ipm strategies would be the introduction of a entomopathogenic fungus to control your aphid population .The fungal spore is sprayed onto the aphid or is passed from aphid to aphid and will eventually kill the aphid .You would need to be careful using this technique as some of these funghi are not discriminatory and may damage bees and and any other predatory insects that have been introduced into the environment .The second category in the eradication of aphids would be using a propriety insecticide that has been developed to combat these insects such as pyrethrum ,Confidor ,Maverik ior any number of general insecticidal sprays .The other option of sprays is the surfactant style of spray which smothers the aphids body and these can be a white oil or a parafim oil such as EcoPest oil .The surfactant style spray will need to be repeated as new aphids hatch .
Whitefly belong to the Aleyrodidae family of insects .They are generally a lime green colour and have white wings and when disturbed they will fly from the plant hence the name whitefly .These are sap sucking insects that will congregate on the underside of plants leaves .Whitefly will cause two different types to your plant The first type of damage is by sucking the sap and juices from the plant and if the population of whitefly is excessive this can often lead to the plants mortality .The other problem caused by whitefly is the indirect damage that they do with their excretion known as honeydew causes .This sticky sugary excretion forms a coating on the plants leaves and this coating is colonized by fungus such as sooty mould which can cause the plant to become stressed .This sooty mould can be washed off with a hose or high pressure sprayer bottle .
Once again there are numerous ways of combating this insect pest .You have the IPM method as previously described with the introduction of beneficial insects which predate on the whitefly .The second is by using insecticidal sprays or surfactant style sprays .There is one method of control that hasnt been described is using mechanical methods to remove the whitefly from your garden .This method can include using sticky traps hung in the garden to catch the adults please note that this is most successful when there is only a small population of insects .You can use a vacuum to remove the insects from your plant .Then you can also prune the most infected leaves or parts of the plant to remove the whitefly from your garden. These methods are most effective when used in conjunction with other methods .