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01/13/2016

Broad, Cyclamen, and Russet Mites: Cannabis – The New Scourge

Question from my Online Compatriot ZEET:

I’ve seen a few posts about broad mites from you and don’t know exactly what you are talking about. I was at the cup here in MI too and I read that you had seen a bunch of plants that had them. I got a few clones from there and one in particular has a odd leaf thing going on. Not sure that it is broad mites but I don’t know exactly what to look for.

Are they a systemic sort of thing? like will the clones of clones have them?
Is there a good way that you know to get rid of them or to manage them?

This is a VERY difficult class of insect to control, for many reasons. Most growers are powerless in the face of an infestation.

The photo to the right is a leaf damaged by the insects. Note the leaf-stem, powdery. Reddish, dry looking. The edges of the leaf curling up.

One must act preventatively, which is more likely to allow for continued control from the BM’s. Especially, if One accepts clones and plants from others’ gardens. Or if the specimens are moved from outdoors into an indoors growing scene (which is never recommended).

In addition, one must be aggressive in tossing away varieties that are prone to attack. Some strains are more able to withstand the bugs. OR, the BM;s are more aggressive with some strains. This occurs with Spider Mites, although they act in completely different ways, and do absolutely different damage.

There is a thread called “Broad Mites?” on the venerable forum at www.icmag.com which has tons of information. Mostly in the “vegging state,” are the Bugs easier to see, as well as their damage. In flower, some folks wonder why the yield was one-haldf of normal, but it can still be possible to pull off a crop. That is part of the problem. People don’t realize they have the insects in the garden, until it is too late. In flower, the pistils are half as long as usual. Almost as if they were burned, or oversprayed. Sometimes they brown up at the tips. The buds are not as juicy as normal, and can yield absolute zero on some strains. Especially purple strains.

It is far easier to see the eggs than the bugs. Note, the singular one in the photo. They exhibit a pattern that appears to be a grid, in most scopes. The following picture is under extreme magnification. One needs at least a 60x scope or jeweler’s loupe to see anything. The Broad Mites are 1/150 of an inch. Sounds not so small, but they are. Once one knows what ones’ looking for, it is possible to BARELY see the bugs. But the presence of the eggs, and the leaf-curling and ‘stipling’ are symptoms of the BMs passing which are enough to go on. The photo of the green leaf, with the presence of Mites shows the ‘ leaf-stipling’ that I refer to.

Popular “It” varieties are the most likely to have BMs, or cyclamen/russet mites. Often, simply because these strains are being shared more than others. All the same results pretty much in terms of effect. The bugs chew on mostly the bottoms of the leaves, and their saliva poisons the plant. Leaves twist, and do odd things. The edges of the fingers in the leaves rollup like taco shells. They appear dry, or crispy on the sides which curl up. Discoloration follows the edges of the leaves, and the central point where the fingers meet is often reddish. This is a part of the leaf structure where the bugs usually congregate, although they often hang out on the leaves as well.

Here is an example of highly-developed infestation.

Whiteflies are necessary to control as well. As unlikely as it sounds, although the bugs are able to walk to new parts of the plants – where they take the Females to new ‘territory’ in order to mate, the Mites are often able to ‘hitch a ride’ on the legs of the flies. As in this extremely magnified photo that is appaling.

New growth is the favorite food of these bastards. You will notice it there first, and in veg. The small new leaves turn yellowish, and then the dry, and crispiness I describe above can occur. Or the new growth seems to stop and shrivel up. Also, other leaves will twist. This is NOT Tobacco Mosaic Disease. TMD is very rare, and the Broad Mites are unfortunately, not.

The almost-microscopic pests can wipe out a veg room. After many years, quite a few experienced growers have been thwarted by the presence of these seemingly new bugs on the scene.

There are even those who maintain that the infestation was a conspiracy. One could ‘seed’ the clones at one of the premier dispensaries in Northern California with BMs, and the bugs would thus be transferred throughout the whole Medical Cannabis Community in very short order.

When the Bugs attack, many people do not notice the problem until it is far past too late. That is a characteristic of the Broad/Cyclamen/Russet Mites that makes them so hard to control. One seems to need to live through an infestation to really learn what to look for. Unfortunately, it is often essential to start over with completely new equipment, and maybe change locations.

Heat treatments for the plants are the most effective way to treat plants. 110 degrees held at 20 to 30 minutes will allow all the eggs and bugs to be eradicated. Keeping that temperature is harder than is seems.

Spray solutions also work. Avid alternated with Forbid every 8 days or so. Reverse Osmosis water. Some surfactant, a couple drops dishsoap, “coco-wet” is a wetting agent made for plants and is best.

Question from my Online Compatriot ZEET: I’ve seen a few posts about broad mites from you and don’t know exactly what you are talking about. I was at the cup here in MI too and I read that you had seen a bunch of plants that had them. I got a few clones from there and one in particular has a odd leaf thing going on. Not sure that it is broad mites but I don’t know exactly what to look for. Are they a systemic sort of thing? like will the clones of clones have them? Is there a…