Mite my deck be ed­i­ble?

Practical Boat Owner - - Blank Ask The Experts -

Q i have a power cruiser moored in a ma­rina. in the sun­shine, the boat is cov­ered in tiny red mites/ spi­ders (which, when squashed, leave a bright red mark). at night, or in rainy weather, where do they go to, and what do they eat? i am con­cerned that it might be my teak deck as there is no veg­e­ta­tion nearby. Sarah Hig­gin­son, by email SARAH BROWN REPLIES: The red spi­der mite (Te­trany­chus ur­ticae), a rel­a­tive of the spi­der, is a sap-suck­ing arach­nid and, due to its tiny size, is un­likely to be able to ac­cess the limited sap in your teak decks and cause dam­age. They will prob­a­bly have been in­tro­duced to your boat by larger pass­ing in­sects or on the wind if you are close to trees or pro­duc­tive ar­eas such as crops or green­houses.

They will thrive in the dry con­di­tions of your decks, and you may find batches of their eggs in pro­tected nooks and cran­nies. When con­di­tions are cooler and more damp (at night, or when it rains), they will move into more shel­tered lo­cal hide­outs, un­der canopies, in tiny cracks in the deck or be­hind kit etc. A limited few will get washed over the side by rain.

In­sec­ti­cides con­tain­ing bifen­thrin will work, but I can make no guess about how this may af­fect your gel­coat or deck fin­ish, as some in­sec­ti­cides will stain. A more eco-friendly so­lu­tion is to spray the decks with a soap so­lu­tion and let it dry. A gen­er­ous squirt of de­ter­gent (3 ta­ble­spoons) to 1 gal­lon of wa­ter should work. Al­ter­na­tively, use a mix of 1⁄2 a cup of flour and 1⁄2 a cup of milk in 1 gal­lon of wa­ter, sprayed lib­er­ally every five days or so, un­til you have got them all. The mites get caught in the mix, turn­ing black as they des­ic­cate and ex­pire. sarah Brown is an en­vi­ron­men­tal ex­pert

The red spi­der mite

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