Wednesday, January 16, 2008

plant education

This all started a few months back when I bought the ivy plant pictured below. I bought it for a few dollars at WalMart when it was just a little guy. When my mom found out, she warned that I needed to watch for spider mites because every ivy plant she has ever had has succombed to those invasive little guys. Well, with her warnings, I kept a watch out and, sure enough, a month or so later, after my little ivy had been doing so well, little webs emerged. I did some research and found out that you can successfully rid your plants of the mites if you rinse the leaves thoroughly once or twice a week. So, I "showered" this guy and the other plants around it dutifully for a month and haven't found evidence of any small creatures for the last three weeks.

Fast forward to today. Well, let me back up just a bit. For Christmas, we got a colorful, Christmasy plant from my sister- and brother-in-law. It is a large plant that likes the sun so it got placed right next to our south window. However, ever since we've had it, it has dropped one or two leaves each week, which has--since last week--turned into one or two leaves a day. I could not figure out what was wrong with it.

Until I was on the phone today.

And I happened to notice some activity on the plant while I was chatting away. See if you notice anything in this picture.

If you noticed a spider web with tiny dots, you are seeing what I saw. I looked closer and found that there was a pattern of many webs around one section of the plant, and all those little dots are actually spider mites crawling around. I was fascinated to see them covering about five big leaves, and my eyes stayed glued to the little mites' movement. Here's another view of the action:

I have a whole COLONY of spider mites on this plant! And now I am left with ambiguous feelings: I feel like the morally responsible thing to do would be to try and save the plant (ie: shower the plant until all the little mites are washed down the drain), but I cannot tell you how fascinating it was to watch the little mites do their work. Any suggestions?


Phillips Family said...

EEWWW!! I am definitely for washing them off! But I am not a bug person. :) You are good to see the beautiful side of them!

The Jeff Bylund Family said...

Hey Tricia! Love the post! We need to get together. Give me a call!

Rebecca said...

All right, that's a good story. Nice pictures. I'd wash them off to avoid contaminating anything else, but I think the bugs themselves are pretty cool.

Maria said...

Unfortunately, I must agree with Becca. I understand how you feel. I find all kinds of strange life fascinating that most people are disturbed by, but your other plants are at risk . . . and I do love plants the most . . .