Last Updated on November 25, 2021 by Grow with Bovees
Dealing with garden pests is a loathed task for most gardeners, especially when they are smaller than the head of a pin!
Spider mites wreak havoc on both indoor plants, and outdoor plants.
It’s crucial to get rid of these pests as soon as possible before they cause excessive damage to plants that you spent hours on keeping healthy.
But what is the best method to deal with an infestation of spider mites?
Refrain from pesticides and insecticides when trying to get rid of spider mites — try to use biological control methods. Organic methods include, pruning and isolating the host plant, watering the plant and cleaning it, introducing predatory mites, and using natural insecticidal oil, insecticidal soap and essential oils to get rid of spider mites.
Let’s dig into identifying these harmful insects and, most importantly, how to get rid of them.
What Are The Signs Of Spider Mite Damage?
It’s quite a challenge to spot spider mites and what damage they are causing to your plants at an early stage as both are away from your direct line of sight.
Spider mites despise light. So, they’ll start causing havoc on the undersides of your plants’ leaves.
The first insect damage you’ll notice is discoloration or fading of the leaves’ color at its belly. The discoloration leaves behind yellowish or bronze spots.
A spider mite infestation is sometimes easily overlooked because spots on a plant leaf are commonly mistaken for a nutrient deficiency.
However, discoloration occurs from these plant pests when they suck out the sap of the leaves, leaving necrotic spots.
Spider mites are minuscule; mature adults only grow up to one-fiftieth of an inch. In addition to their size, making them nearly impossible to see with the naked eye, their colors allow them to camouflage well with the leaves.
Adult mites can be brown or orange-reddish, but a greenish-yellow, nearly translucent color is the most common.
The best way to check for spider mites would be to turn the leaves over and check their undersides with a handheld magnifying glass.
If you don’t have a magnifying glass, an alternative would be to hold a piece of white paper underneath the plant’s leaves.
Then, lightly shake them and turn the leaves over; some mites will fall off the leaves onto the paper. They will look similar to fine pepper.
Or else, turn the undersides of the leaves towards the light; if you see delicate clusters of webbing in the corners of the plant’s stems with tiny dots moving around, chances are pretty good that you’ve got a severe infestation of spider mites!
When observed under a magnifying glass, you’ll note that they are an oval shape with one or two dark spots on their backs.
You’ll also notice them moving around on the leaves, this is an opportune time to crush them, as many as you can!
Given that an adult female will lay somewhere in the region of 20 eggs every day, coupled with their quick reproduction times, (from egg to adult takes a mere 5 to 20 days if conditions are perfect), it is no wonder that they can take over your entire plant very quickly.
Although they prefer hot weather and warm temperatures, they hibernate in the soil during cold weather, ready to attack your house plants, and generally cause havoc on garden plants at the first opportunity.
What Attracts Spider Mites?
Three leading causes attract spider mites, namely:
1. Dry and dusty conditions: the most rapid growth conditions for spider mites are in hot and dry environments. So, if you seldom water your plants, the dry conditions tend to attract spider mites.
2. Overuse of fertilizers: overuse of fertilizers causes high nitrogen and phosphorous levels in the soil, attracting spider mites.
This is often the reason why spider mites are such an issue in agricultural landscapes. Similarly, home gardens with drip irrigation prevent the spider mites from being washed off with a garden hose, and, therefore, create ideal breeding grounds.
3. Indoor Hydroponic setups: Spider mites are also attracted to indoor hydroponic setups. The temperatures caused by the growing lights tend to be ideal for rapid spider mite breeding.
How Do Spider Mites Spread?
Spider mites are windsurfers. They spread from one area to another by riding the breeze atop their webbing.
As soon as they finish destroying one plant, spider mites spread by moving from one plant to the next. Spider mites can easily hide in the soil beds for months while waiting for green leaves to reappear.
Spider mites also spread by latching onto your skin and clothes.
A lack of natural predators in your yard or garden also makes them spread swiftly.
How To Prevent Spider Mites On My Plants
Luckily, there are several preventative measures to prevent spider mites from ruining your plants. Here are five easy-to-follow steps to preventing spider mites.
1. Keep the area and plant clean: As mentioned earlier, spider mites thrive in dusty conditions and on water-stressed plants.
Therefore, wipe your plants’ leaves occasionally and ensure that they have enough water. In addition, clear out debris and weed in your garden to prevent spider mites from hiding there.
2. Use a Humidifier: A great way to deter spider mites from houseplants is to use a humidifier to keep the air humid. An alternative is to spray mist onto your plant’s leaves occasionally.
3. Debug your plants: If you put your plants outside during summer, ensure you take a little extra time to debug your houseplants before bringing them back inside.
4. Keep your plants healthy: Healthy plants are better able to withstand pests. So ensure that your plants are well-watered and fertilized.
However, be sure not to over-fertilize your plants, as over-fertilizing is counterproductive.
5. Use high-quality soil or Quarantine: Use high-quality potting soil for your houseplants to prevent possible soil-borne pests, such as soil mites.
In addition, keep new houseplants away from your other plants for 30 days to prevent spider mites and other pests from possibly spreading from plant to plant.
How To Get Rid Of Spider Mites?
Getting rid of spider mites is fairly easy. First, however, note that it’s important to refrain from using pesticides and insecticides — you’ll find out why in a minute; let’s first look at how to remove these pests.
1. Prune and Isolate Your Plants When Infested With Spider Mites
Isolate your plant away from other plants as soon as you discover spider mites. Then, prune the plant with visible webbing (carefully dispose of the pruned leaves and branches).
2. Water Your Plants To Prevent And Get Rid Of Spider Mites
Luckily, spider mites are easy to kill by using only water. Even a gentle water spray will help.
Spider mites love dry soil beds and thirsty plants; so, ensure that you properly water your plants.
Bathing the plants with water will also help remove them; ensure you spray those web clusters too!
For an additional punch, use a small amount of dish soap with water.
3. Introduce Predatory Insects To Get Rid Of Spider Mites
Many beneficial insects which are natural predators can be used to kill a spider mite. These natural predators include the following:
· Predatory mites
4. Use Insecticidal Oils Like Neem Oil For A Spider Mite Problem
Insecticidal oils such as neem oil, dormant oil, or horticultural oil are effective for killing adult spider mites, as well as spider mite eggs.
5. Use Essential Oils To Remove Spider Mites
Essential oils like rosemary, eucalyptus, and peppermint essential oils will repel spider mites and many other pests.
6. A Cup Of Alcohol Works Wonders
An application of an alcohol solution, will also teach them a lesson. Just prepare a mixture of alcohol and water, and let them have it!
Why Shouldn’t You Use Pesticides Or Insecticide Sprays to Kill Spider Mites?
It’s so easy to hastily grab a pesticide or insecticide spray to kill these houseplant pests — reconsider!
First, pesticide and insecticide sprays kill beneficial bugs and spider mite predators.
Secondly, pesticides tend to dry up the soil faster, encouraging another spider mites infestation.
Lastly, these sprays can be harmful to the plants.
If you have a plant threatening infestation, and the plant can be moved outdoors, you could try an application of sevin dust. It is known to be very effective for spider mites, so as a last resort, could be worth a try.
Conclusion of How To Get Rid of Spider Mites
Signs of spider mite include the yellowish-brown discoloration on the undersides of the leaf of your plant, holes in the leaf tissue, and web clusters in the corners of the plant’s stems.
Try to stick with a natural method, using home remedies to remove spider mites, including isolation, regular watering, insecticidal oils, essential oils, dish soap, and don’t forget your beneficial insect options.
We trust that these top gardening tips will help you to remove the colonies of these common garden pests for good!