Russet mites are tiny bugs on marijuana plants. In fact, they are so small you can only see them with a magnifier unless there are thousands of them infesting your plant. They live in the crevices of leaves, stems or buds, and the initial symptoms are not that serious.

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Russet mites are tiny bugs on marijuana plants. In fact, they are so small you can only see them with a magnifier unless there are thousands of them infesting your plant. They live in the crevices of leaves, stems or buds, and the initial symptoms are not that serious. Many cannabis growers may not realize they have a russet mite infestation and it isn’t unusual for them to confuse the symptoms for other problems such as heat damage, overwatering, or nutrient deficiency, as well as pollen, mold, or the tobacco mosaic virus.

Because russet mites are so tiny and elusive, you often won’t see them until you have a full infestation. In big enough numbers they may appear as a beige or yellow mass, with symptoms often more prominent towards the tops of the cannabis plants.  There is also noticeable drooping and curling of leaf edges. Where mites live inside plant tissue, the leaves and stems are usually dull-colored.

The brown or yellow spots caused by russet mites are often mistaken for mold, fungus or pollen. An intense russet mite infestation on cannabis plants can also be difficult to diagnose because it’s hard to see the individual bugs. Russet mites can reproduce and attack cannabis plants all year round and are most harmful in the flowering stage when buds get infested.

Damage on leaves and shoots caused by russet mites.
Damage on leaves and shoots caused by russet mites.

Biology and Life Cycle of Russet Mites

Russet mites are among the most understudied bugs in marijuana plants. Females are about 170-210 microns, slightly bigger than their male counterparts which measure 160-165 microns. To emphasize how small russet mites are, that’s just about twice the width of human hair!

Russet mites are pale in color, oblong-shaped, and have only two pairs of legs. They are easily distinguishable from other pest mites because of the lack of webbing. Due to their very small size, russet mites can only travel short distances which explains they aren’t likely to move off the host plant. However, they can be carried by wind in outdoor settings or air currents in enclosed grow spaces. Contamination is also possible via human hands and clothing.

It is believed that russet mites have a life cycle similar to that of other eriophyoid mites. Depending on environmental conditions, these mites can complete their life cycle in as short as 7-10 days or as long as 30 days. Eggs hatch a couple of days after they are laid and larvae emerge three days later. Larvae then molt into two immature nymph stages—protonymph and deutonymph—before becoming adult russet mites. Females survive up to three weeks and lay anywhere from 10-50 eggs in their lifetime.

Organic Pest Control of Russet Mites

As with all other weed bugs, preventing an infestation during propagation of cannabis will always be the #1 rule. Russet mites cannot be sustained on seeds, so the best route to take is planting from marijuana seeds. You may opt for cuttings, but go the extra mile to ascertain that the mother plant hasn’t been infested. Thoroughly disinfect cuttings before bringing them into your grow space and practice strict sanitation of both people and equipment moving in and out.

A broad range of highly refined seed and mineral oils have proven success in the treatment and control of russet mites. Among these are neem, soybean, canola and cottonseed oil which kill off the mites by coating and suffocating them. Azadirachtin sprays may also be used but spraying should only be done when your plants are in their vegetative stage.

For effective organic russet mite pest control in both vegetative and flowering stages, biological control using predatory mites is highly recommended. Beneficials such as Amblyseius andersoni, Neoseiulus californicus, Amblyseius swirskii and Amblyseius cucumeris have demonstrated amazing results at eradicating russet mite populations in indoor cannabis grows.

You Need Expert Organic Pest Control Advice

Because laws and regulations governing cannabis cultivation are constantly being modified, it is best to seek the advice of a pest control professional specializing in the treatment and management of common cannabis pests. Ryan Smith is a fully-licensed, bonded and insured master technician at Ant & Garden Pest Control in Beaverton Oregon offering organic and OLCC approved marijuana pest control services. There’s no one more capable at eradicating cannabis pests in Oregon, so give Ryan a call today for a FREE phone-in consultation!

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Ant & Garden Pest Control Beaverton is the most trusted and reliable pest control company in Oregon, and for good reason! I care about helping my clients as though they’re members of my own family. Whether you’re in need of urgent treatment for an existing ant pest problem or are looking for the best prevention methods for your home or business, I am committed to bringing you only the best ant and pest control Beaverton for your complete peace of mind.

Emma Baker
Emma BakerGreat company! I was about to kill all my plants and shut down because of frustration with two-spotted spider mites and broad mites. So happy Ryan verified this through a Dino lite microscope at 220 x magnification. Extremely satisfied in his service, my mites died, no eggs spared.
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Paul Evans
Paul EvansAnt & Garden Pest Control deserves 10 stars saved me from bankruptcy. I had root aphids in my indoor garden there’s nobody that knows how to kill them and has posted it on the internet. Ryan has dealt with them before and knew exactly which olcc approved products to buy and how to prevent reinfestation. I just harvested my first pest free crop in years! I am now going with his maintenance sprays 1 time a week Ryan has all the best lab grade equipment and knowledge. Easier to let him focus on my pests my time can be spent growing bumper crops of exceptional quality. This harvest I yielded 50% more than normal and sold everything I grew for 30% more than last time. Not only are my pests gone but Ryan’s service made me money.
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Michael Wright
Michael WrightThe commercial-grade soil baggage compost I used for my plants has root aphids. I had to reach out to Ryan of Ant & Garden Pest Control for assistance. The last three months have been quite pleasing as the destructive aphids were gone. Ryan was reliable, providing a constant level of quality with strong results. You can’t beat the peace of mind he offers. I had my first harvest smoothly with his maintenance spraying. We yielded over 2 grams a watt, nearly double our personal best.
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