Attack of the Spider Mites

In 2014, we found a morning glory plant growing on the edge of the snap bean beds. At first, we decided to keep the morning glory for their beautiful purple flowers. We wrapped their vines around our fence to make it look nice. The morning glory continued to grow until it was wrapped around the entire perimeter of the snap bean beds.

The morning glory grew faster than the snap beans. As it grew, it entangled itself within the snap bean stems. One day, we noticed tiny white dots on the morning glory. As we researched what type of damage this could be, black dots and yellowing started to appear on the snap beans. At first, we thought it was stippling, which is a type of ozone damage, but the dots were on the snap bean plants that were ozone tolerant as well as the ones that were sensitive. Being ozone tolerant means ozone should not have damaged these plants. As the damage continued, the dots began to cluster, appear on both sides of the leaf, and have little white dots in the center of the clusters. Stippling never clusters or appears on both sides of the leaf. An unknown type of insect began to appear in the snap bean beds. After doing some more research, we discovered that these bugs are called spider mites, and they were causing the damage on our snap beans. The white dots on the morning glory were eggs!

We found a type of potassium and water spray that chased away the spider mites, but by this point the damage had turned deadly for the snap beans.  In August of 2014, we cut away and pulled out all of the morning glory and snap beans with gloved hands, carefully placing all pieces of the plants, infected or not, into trash bags before the eggs could hatch and infect the rest of the garden.

A lesson that can be learned from this unfortunate event is not to keep a weed growing in your garden, no matter how beautiful it is. If you want to keep a weed, transplant it into a container and keep it away from the garden.

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