It’s the stuff of nightmares to think of being attacked by something you can’t see, but in this case, we’re not talking about ghosts. Instead, we will be discussing spider mites. The trees, shrubs, flowers, fruits, and vegetables in your garden, as well as the houseplants and bushes, are all vulnerable to the damaging attacks that can be launched by these noxious pests. In this article, you will learn the best strategies on how to get rid of red spider mites.
Photo Credit Spider mites have piercing and sucking mouthparts that they use to eat on the plant leaves.
Although they are frequently grouped with insects, spider mites are a massive group of plant pests that are not insects at all but rather eight-legged arachnids closely related to spiders and ticks. Spider mites, which are almost too small to see, can swiftly proliferate on plants, causing the plants to turn yellow, wilt, and eventually die.
So, how do you get rid of them?
Although it is challenging, getting rid of spider mites with some effort is possible. If there is an infestation, you should start with all-natural remedies like neem oil and salt water. For people, pets, and plants, they are the safest. However, if the infestation becomes out of control, you can also use chemical control strategies.
Read on to learn more!
What Are Red Spider Mites?
Photo Credit Smaller than the head of a pin, spider mites are among the most prevalent plant pests.
Spider mites are not insects but rather tiny arachnids that are related to ticks, spiders, harvestmen (also known as daddy longlegs), and scorpions. There are hundreds of distinct species that are grouped together and referred to as spider mites.
These mites feed on a variety of indoor and outdoor plant species. There will be delicate spider webs all over your plants if spider mites are present. They use this web to protect themselves and navigate themselves when they are on the plant. You won’t be able to tell that there are spider mites on your plants until you see them spinning webs.
Depending on the species you’re dealing with, they can be white, crimson, or black. Spider mites thrive in warm, dry surroundings and can become a significant problem during the winter since your warm, dry home provides their ideal breeding habitat.
Finally, if you notice tiny bugs moving around in the soil of your houseplants rather than on the leaves, you may have fungus gnats rather than spider mites. Unfortunately, many individuals get these two bugs mixed up and end up treating them with the wrong method.
Life Cycle Of Spider Mites
Photo Credit Spider mites reproduce quickly in warmer conditions and are most abundant from June to September.
The females begin depositing eggs at the end of winter and continue to do so for many weeks afterward. The total number of eggs may go as high as 300 for each female.
These eggs overwinter in a hidden state on the bark and leaves of the host plant, where they are protected from the elements. Then, in the early spring, when temperatures rise, the tiny larvae with six legs start to hatch.
Before maturing into adults, these larvae will undergo three distinct molting stages.
Conditions of high heat and little humidity favor the rapid development of these insects. The shift from hatching larvae to adults can take about five days under these conditions.
One more word of caution: spider mites can travel on wind currents. They stretch out their webs, allowing them to be transported by the wind. Because of this, it is necessary to carefully contain the damaged plants and get rid of them afterward.
Signs Of A Spider Mite Infestation
Photo Credit If spider mites are present in your plants, you will likely see webs on their leaves and branches.
Webbing on houseplants, as well as yellow and white blotches on the foliage, and the premature falling of leaves are typical indicators of spider mite infestation. Similarly, azalea blooms and leaves might develop abnormal shapes if spider mites are present.
Spider mites feed on the sap produced by plants, which causes the plants to become sickly and unsightly. Under extreme conditions, the plant can perish due to having all its leaves eaten.
In addition, an infestation of spider mites can lead to a considerable drop in the output of fruit crops. So, if you notice any of these symptoms, you should quickly confirm and start the recommended treatment.
Plants That Are Prone To Spider Mites
Although spider mites can attack any plant if the conditions are favorable, some plants are more vulnerable than others. Following are some examples.
If you have any of the plants mentioned above in your garden or home, you should be more cautious and ready to deal with spider mites.
How To Get Rid Of Spider Mites Naturally?
Photo Credit Neem oil is a general pest deterrent that, when applied, will suffocate spider mites.
We have separated natural and organic spider mite treatments into two groups. To clarify, this refers to biological treatment and natural remedies.
However, early diagnosis is crucial for applying these techniques to manage spider mites successfully. If your plant’s population of spider mites is low, you will have a better chance of eliminating them entirely with a natural method.
On the other hand, if it is an all-out infestation, you will almost certainly have to use chemical control methods, and if you want to spare other healthy plants, you might have to get rid of the plant entirely or cut off a significant portion.
Spray With Water To Wash Off Spider Mites
You can easily remove spider mites from your plants by using a water spray and washing them off. Eliminating spider mites with this approach is not only easy but also incredibly successful.
First things first, remove all of the webbings from the plants that have been affected by spraying them. After that, you should spray the foliage to remove any spider mite eggs or larvae that may still be present. It is essential to ensure that the undersides of the leaves are clean because here is where spider mites like to hide and lay their eggs.
Homemade Insecticidal Soap For Spider Mites
Another effective method for eliminating spider mites is creating insecticidal soap in your home. They are particularly effective in the early stages of an infestation and are relatively affordable and risk-free to use.
Making insecticidal spider mite soap at home is a relatively straightforward process. Simply combine one tablespoon of gentle liquid soap, such as Ivory, with one quart of water, and your spray will be ready to use.
Put it in a spray bottle, and then apply it to the plants suffering from the infestation.
Using Neem Oil To Get Rid Of Spider Mites
Neem oil is not harmful to people, but it is highly toxic to various insects, mites, and other pests. It’s not hard to whip up some neem oil spray in your own home. You’ll need neem oil, an emulsifier, and water to make a good neem oil spray.
In the empty spray bottle, combine water and neem oil. You are about to discover, in the event that you were unaware of this fact already, that oil and water do not combine. You will need an emulsifier in order to combine neem oil and water.
You might also use some water diluted with soap for this purpose. When you’ve finished adding the emulsifier, cap the bottle and give it a good shake to combine all of the components. The neem spray you manufactured at home is now ready to use.
Applying this spray on a consistent basis to your plant will produce the best results.
Rubbing alcohol is another natural way to get rid of spider mites. Y To apply rubbing alcohol as a miticide, you can use cotton balls soaked in rubbing alcohol to wipe the foliage of infested houseplants. After applying the rubbing alcohol to the plants, let it sit there for a few hours.
The rubbing alcohol will kill the spider mites, and once they are dead, they can be removed from the leaves by giving them a good rinsing with water.
Biological Control For Spider Mites
Photo Credit Lacewings are popular, commercially available beneficial insects that can be used for controlling spider mites.
Biological treatments involve using specific bugs to prevent or eliminate the presence of other, more hazardous insects. Commercially these are called beneficial insects.
Online retailers offer a variety of predatory insects and mites that can be purchased for indoor plants. Put them into the individual pots. These helpful mites and bugs can consume hundreds of spider mites in a single day, but they do not pose a risk to plants, humans, or animals.
Some of these beneficial insects include:
- Predatory mites (Phytoseiulus persimilis)
Pro Tip: When the pest problem is still in its early stages, releasing these helpful insects into the environment will produce the best outcomes. Additionally, you shouldn’t use any insecticides if you want to encourage these beneficial insects to stick around.
Chemical Treatments For Spider Mites
Photo Credit Chemical control methods should only be used as a last resort for controlling spider mites.
It is possible that you will not be successful in eliminating spider mites using natural or organic means, despite the fact that you have made every effort to do so. You will need to resort to using chemical spider control methods in such circumstances.
However, if you choose to use chemical treatments, keep in mind that these treatments will get rid of all bugs and pests, not just spider mites. In addition, for these compounds to be effective, it is necessary for them to come into direct touch with the spider mites.
Because of this, to achieve the best possible outcomes, you need to make sure that the plant is doused in the chemical you are employing.
The following items are highly recommended for use in chemical treatment.
Malathion is the primary active component of the pesticide Spectracide. It is developed to protect ornamental plants, fruits, and vegetables from a variety of insects, including red spider mites, mealybugs, whiteflies, and aphids.
Another product you can get online for controlling spider mites is 7.9% Bifenthrin.
The name of this product, bifenthrin, gives away the identity of the component that is responsible for the product’s effectiveness.
It takes only a few minutes for the spider mites to die after making contact with bifenthrin.
Forbid 4F Miticide offers excellent knockdown and residual control against spider mites. Forbid’s primary psychoactive ingredient is called spiromesifen.
It is effective against all stages of the spider mite life cycle and possesses translaminar action, which means it controls mites on both sides of the leaves.
These chemical products should only be used for severe infestations of valuable plants after all other techniques have failed. Moreover, due to their dangers to humans and animals alike, chemical pesticides should be used cautiously, especially around edible plants like fruits and vegetables. Also, always ensure you read and follow the advice on the label carefully.
Preventing Spider Mite Infestations
Photo Credit Maintaining a debris-free environment around indoor and outdoor plants is a great way to avoid spider mites.
You must have heard that care is better than cure. Therefore, as a responsible gardener, you should always try to prevent spider mite infection in the first place.
Alternatively, if you have already treated an infected plant, you should take precautions to prevent the return of the spider mites. In order to control spider mites from infesting your plants, we recommend that you adopt the following habits.
- Make sure that the plants you intend to buy for your home or garden are free of any pests or diseases before you buy them or bring them home.
- Make sure that your plants always have access to plenty of water and fertilizer. Plants in good health are better able to withstand attacks from diseases and pests.
- Maintain a clean environment. Getting rid of any weeds and debris that may be hiding spider mites in the garden is essential.
- Raise the amount of moisture that is in the air. Spider mites thrive in dry settings. You may make the environment around your plants less hospitable for spider mites by increasing the relative humidity in the air.
- Most of the bugs that infest your houseplants are transported on the soil you purchase. Check to see that you are not bringing any spider mite eggs into your home. Always make sure the dirt you use in your pots is sterile and of a good grade.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kills spider mites instantly?
Rubbing alcohol is an excellent solution for quickly killing spider mites. Visible spider mites can be eliminated by using an alcohol and water solution. Pour a solution containing 1 cup of alcohol and 30 ounces of water into the spray container. Spray the leaves thoroughly on both sides, then use a paper towel to dry them off.
Can a plant recover from spider mites?
If adequate time and care are given for treatment and prevention, plants can recover from spider mite infestations. Using a soft cloth or a strong spray of lukewarm water to wash plant foliage can help lower the spider mite population. However, your houseplant will be frail from fighting off the bug once the spider mites are gone.
How do I get rid of spider mites on my plants?
The most straightforward technique to treat small areas is to create your own Miticide by mixing one tablespoon of liquid soap with a gallon of water and putting the mixture in a spray bottle. After that, spray your plants with this. Another method is to separate the plant and then use high-pressure water from a hose to spray its leaves and stems.
How did my plant get spider mites?
Your shoes, clothing, the fur on your pets, and, most crucially, other diseased plants are all possible pathways for spider mites into your home. Spider mites prefer dusty leaves on dehydrated plants. Spider mites thrive in hot, dry environments, particularly where their natural enemies have been eradicated by chemical use.
Do spider mites stay in the soil?
Spider mites do not normally live in potting soil. Instead, they like to hide on the underside of leaves, where they can remain undiscovered for several weeks at a time. However, if you see spider mites in potting soil, increase the moisture. The spider mites’ nemesis is soil moisture. They do not like wetness and will soon leave the place.
What plants do spider mites infest?
While they prefer certain plants over others, they will destroy everything they infest. Surfers in the spider world are spider mites. They scatter across large areas by riding the breezes on their webs and spreading out. They can often be seen forming their colonies indoors in hydroponic gardens, greenhouses, and commercial fields.
What does a spider mite infestation look like?
Spider mites appear as tiny small spots on the underside of the leaf, frequently concentrated around the plant’s stem. However, the plants may take on a bronzed or bleached appearance when the infection worsens, and their leaves may fall off. You will also more likely see spider mite webs on the infested plants.
Sources for Further Reading
Spider Mites and Their Control. (2022). Retrieved 30 August 2022, from https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-2012-11
Integrated Pest Management (I.P.M.) for Spider Mites. (2022). Retrieved 30 August 2022, from https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/integrated-pest-management-i-p-m-for-spider-mites/
Spider Mites Management Guidelines–U.C. I.P.M. (2022). Retrieved 30 August 2022, from http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7405.html
Twospotted spider mites in home gardens. (2022). Retrieved 30 August 2022, from https://extension.umn.edu/yard-and-garden-insects/spider-mites
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