Yes, I have mites! And they are not something I want to get rid of this time. As I found myself amending my soil for reuse, I was contemplating the most useful approach to dealing with a fungus gnat infestation. It began with a lapse in oversight on my part.
Stratriolaelaps (hypoaspis) mile photo courtesy of Dirty Business Soil Analysis and Consluting.
My focus is to use as many beneficial long-term bio insecticides as possible, while decreasing the use of concentrated knockdown products such as azadirachtin. There are a plethora of options available to accomplish this.
About My Organic Indoor Setup
Let’s take a step back for a moment before I discuss how I handled the mites. I am a Clean Green Certified medical cannabis cultivator. Part of this certification program is a strict adherence using only approved pesticide products, such as those that are listed by OMRI or CDFA. There are other products that are available for use without these labels, but it’s best to check out the product you are using thoroughly. A few years back, I made a transition from spraying the plant tissue to manage pests and began focusing instead on soil drench and soil-based pest management applications.
In the beginning of every run, I inoculate with 3 species of nematodes. They each have different characteristics. One is the sternimae feltiae(sic), which is mobile and will seek out larvae to eat. Another is called carpocase(sic) — it is not mobile and will wait for a pest to past by and then latch on to it. In an emergency, I have also turned to predator pests.
Another integral part of my integrated pest management (IPM) is the use of mycoinsecticides like Met-52 and Mycotrol O. There are also great bacterial agents available for use such as Monterey Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT). Most important is a diverse food source for beneficial bacteria and fungi, which includes different types of compost tea brews.
Analyzing the Hypoaspis Mile Mites in My Soil
So, that is a taste of my IPM. Imagine my surprise when I notice aggressive mite-like insects cruising around the medium. One pot, then two pots. Before I even knew they were there, they had colonized almost every pot. Having never seen this particular insect, I was concerned.
By observing these peculiar mites, I learned 2 things:
- There was a drop in all gnat activity after the mites showed up. In fact, they all but disappeared entirely.
- This insect had zero interest in the plant tissue or roots.
Now I’m thinking I might be in the clear, so I set to positively identify them. I took a sample to Dirty Business Soil Consulting and Analysis. For $50, they were able to positively identify the bug as a kind of beneficial mite called the hypoaspis mile!
Rejoice! A mite that eats fungus gnat and thrip larvae found its way into my environment without needing human introduction.
Wow. There truly is a first for everything. I got ’em if you need ’em. Seriously though, I have yet to find these for sale. So, thank you hypoaspis miles!