Spider Mites

Courtesy of Paramecium Spider Mite Infestation
Courtesy of Gilles San Martin, Red Spider Mite Tetranychus urticae

Often seen on the underside of leaves where they will sap the life out of any plant.

Spider mites include about 1,200 species. They generally live on the undersides of leaves. They sometimes spin silk webs like that seen at your left. They will puncture the leaves to feed.

Spider mites are tiny, about 0.04 inch and will vary in color.

Effective Control Bugs: Ladybug, Pirate Bug, Praying Mantis


Courtesy of カキクダアザミウマ Ponticulothrips diospyros

Thrips (Order Thysanoptera), slender, small insects with fringed wings. Common names include thunderflies, thunderbugs, storm flies, thunderblights, storm bugs, corn flies and corn lice.

Thrips species feed on plants and animals by puncturing and sucking up the internal fluids. Thrips are not good flyers and are generally less than 1mm in length.

Like sheep and deer the name thrips is used for both the singular and plural.

Effective Control Bugs: Ladybug, Pirate Bug, Praying Mantis, Green Lacewing


Aphid – Acyrthosiphon pisum, by Shipher Wu
Courtesy of the Public Library of Science

Green apple aphid (Aphis pomi) – A, adult sexual female; B, adult male; C, young female; D, female laying an egg; E, eggs, which turn from green to black after they are laid – (Enlarged about 20 times)

Small sap-sucking insects, members of the superfamily Aphidoidea.

Aphids are among the most destructive insects for any gardener. Their length varies from 0.4 to .39 inches.

Their natural enemies include aphid midge larvae, crab spiders, hoverfly larvae, lacewings, ladybirds and parasitic wasps.

Effective Control Bugs (they will eat aphids): Ladybug, Pirate Bug, Praying Mantis, Green Lacewing

How to Kill Poison Ivy and Not Use Toxic Chemicals

The world of plants is very diverse. There are a lot of things about plants that benefit us. After all, we survive off of plants. Those of us who are vegetarians owe their existence to plants. They keep us alive. But, within the plant kingdom are some things that are just harmful to use. Poison Ivy is one … and it can be bad.

A typical case of contact with poison ivy will produce an itchy, oozy, rash that will make you want to scratch your skin off.

It is said that 85% of humans are susceptible to the poison ivy rash. If you are within that percentage stay away from poison ivy. Don’t go near it. Stay clear of it. Certainly, don’t touch it.

Here are some things you can do to rid your yard of poison ivy. The most often used remedy is probably a toxic chemical spray like Round Up or one of the other brand names. These work well but of course you are putting heavy duty chemicals into your soil when you use them. I have. They work well. I used it where I never grow anything. It was a spot up against my garage where the vine had taken hold.

Here are some ideas to get rid of poison ivy that are non toxic and will work … meaning they will kill the poison ivy in your yard. They may take a little more diligence. Maybe more than one or two applications. But you will get rid of that poison ivy and not pollute your yard … the ground water or water supply!

If you have the property you can bring in some goats and graze them. The poison ivy won’t hurt the goats and they will eat it all up in no time. Of course this being a very effective method it just isn’t for everyone. As another gardener recently said, “I’ve never heard of Goat rentals”.

Vinegar comes in different strengths and if possible use the most concentrated that you can get a hold of. Some will say to dilute it 50/50 with water, others say to use it full strength. I’ll go with the full strength but be as careful as possible to get it only on the poison ivy plants and not elsewhere is your garden. It can kill other plants as well. Spray the leaves. Soak them. You could spray some around the base where it will soak in to the roots too. Use the stream setting on your spray bottle so you don’t spray it all over, in a mist, that will blow around in the wind and come in contact with other plants in the area. Really soak those leaves and come back in a few minutes and hit them again. This method may take a few applications but it will work. If you do have an issue with acidity in the soil from the use of vinegar you can add some lime to the soil afterwards.

A typical spray bottle is about one quart, give or take some. To mix up enough for one spray bottle fill it half way with water and then add about a 1/2 pound of salt. The salt containers I purchase at my local grocer are just over 1.5 pounds. So use about half of one of those … it should just about fill that bottle. Mix it all up completely, this may take some doing. Starting with hot, or warm, water should help. Once it is completely mixed add a tablespoon to 2 tablespoons of typical dish washing liquid. This is really only used to break the consistency of the water so it will more easily adhere to the leaves of the plant.

Now soak those leaves. Go back a little while later and soak them again. Repeat daily until you see the plant is dying.

Salt and Vinegar
I’ve also seen it said to use the same two recipes above together. Start off with a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water, add salt at a rate of about 3 pounds per gallon of the 50/50 mix. Mix it completely and then add a couple tablespoons of dish soap and mix it up well.

Probably my favorite recipe is to use the vinegar and the salt together, no water. This will kill poison ivy very well and most weeds simply disappear. I have used it on the crack in my driveway and the weeds will disappear there too … but usually not the grasses. You need to go back time and time again to get rid of the grasses. But remember, you are not contaminating the environment with poison when you use these household remedies.

Use the same procedure as above to soak the leaves.

This one was new to me when I read it but shows that there are a lot of things in life that don’t get along well with other things. Here is one such example that comes from thinking out of the box.

The recipe is saw called for 1 oz. of gin, 1 oz. of apple cider vinegar, 1 quart of water and 1 tablespoon of dish washing soap. The author of this recipe claimed it would kill the poison within one day. I’m not quite to optimistic because I am well aware of the fortitude of this plant. Use the same procedure to spray the leaves as the above recipes.

Boiling Water
This works great on those clumps of grass growing in the cracks of your driveway and sidewalk too! Simply boil up some water in your favorite tea kettle. Slowly pour the boiling water over the plants, basically at the roots of the poison ivy. This may take a few days of repeating but it will work. Be super careful that you don’t splash any water back onto yourself. If you do, you’ll probably get poison ivy … that is probably a reason why not to use this method.

Don’t expect a layer of wood chips to kill this plant but if you have found it early in it’s life cycle, and it has not yet begun to grow up a tree or building, cover it with a thick layer of newspaper, cardboard, wood or anything else that will block water and light from reaching the roots of the plant. Cover it and leave it till next summer and you will be rid of the poison ivy (and anything else that you covered).

Pull It
Personally I do not recommend this. Any time you come in contact with poison ivy you risk the possibility of getting it. If you must though, grab it as close to the roots as possible and pull it out. You probably won’t get all the roots and it will grow back. Dig down a foot if you can to get as much of the root as possible. Any piece left behind will grow back into a new an healthy plant.

Be sure to wear protective clothing, gloves, face mask, goggles etc, and you’ll either want to wash these things right away afterward, or throw them out. Remember that any of the poison from poison ivy that gets on your clothes will still give you the poison ivy rash if you come in contact with it.