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mite damage   
This is the downside to having been in China. Some of my plants suffered extreme mite damage. Mites are tiny (about five fit inside a millimeter) sucking insects that can ruin a plant before you really notice what’s happening. They attack the apical meristem area and totally disfigure the plant. The discoloration happens after the damage is done. Plants under stress, in my experience, are more prone to attack, and almost every plant I own is in a very small pot. This is a stressor, especially if the plant isn’t watered or fed correctly. There also seems to be a species susceptibility. Had I been home, I would have sprayed systemic bug killer (acephate) onto the plants, along with fumigation by pyrethrins and root soaking by nicotinoids. But I wasn’t here, so I have several hundred damaged plants. The picture shows the most extreme damage, where the younger skin of the plant is completely covered with the corky lesions the mites cause. I did all that poisoning when I got home, so the green you see among the brown is new growth of the plant. Sometimes the mites come close to killing a plant. I’ll probably hang on to some desirable plants that are so damaged and wait the two to five years it will take for them to grow out of the disfigured appearance. The rest will get tossed. It may be an irrational hope that a plant so damaged can grow out of it. I’ll know in five years. I’ve never had such extensive mite damage in all the years I’ve kept cacti. But China was worth it. I can start new plants from new seeds. I do this every year. Maybe I can grow a good plant in the five years it might take for a damaged plant to recover.   (29/32)   

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