One of the questions I am asked most often is “How do I get rid of spider mites on my indoor and outdoor plants?” and “Where do tiny spider mites come from?”. But, we need to back up a tad to discuss what they are, how to identify them, and how to keep them at bay.
THEN we can cover how to get rid of spider mites on plants better.
Every year for the last 3-4 years I have lost almost every cucumber plant I have ever planted to spider mites. I have tried several varieties of cucumbers from bush to vining, and from heirloom to resistant.
My cukes start out great and then they start waning and I find white, black, or red spider mites. They are a force to be reckoned with – but they can be controlled and there may effective ways to treat for them, as well.
I decided I had to fix this issue and so far, so good, so let’s talk about Spider mite damage.
Most of the time, the smallest creatures can cause the biggest damage in a garden. Today, we’ll be talking about spider mites, their effect on your plants, and how you can effectively get rid of spider mites on plants. Let’s get started!
Fast Facts About Spider Mites
Spider mites or adult female spider mite on plants are a tiny type of arachnid that originated from Eurasia but can now be found across all tropical and temperate regions. They generally live on the undersides of your plants’ leaves where they may spin protective silk webs.
Spider mites can come from almost anywhere, they can come in on plants you bought at a nursery, they can migrate from your neighbor’s plants, they can be carried in on skin and clothing. So, trying to find the source may be futile.
They can typically cause damage by puncturing the plant cells and leaf tissues and sucking the sap to eat. Spider mites are known to feed on several hundred species of plants including:
- most beans
- stone fruits
- and most annual flowers
- ornamental plants
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Identifying Spider Mites On Plants
Spider mites are less than 1 mm (0.04 in) in size and vary in color. They lay small, spherical, initially transparent or translucent eggs and many species spin silk webbing to help protect the colony from predators; they get the “spider” part of their common name from this webbing.
Spider mite infestations are particularly common during hot, dry summer weather.
Signs Of A Spider Mite Infestation
Much like other pests, spider mites can leave traces that will allow you to detect their presence. Here are some signs of spider mite damage that will clue you in if there’s an bad infestation in your garden:
- There are tiny white ,yellow, or brown spots called stippling on the leaves and needles of your plants.
- Your plants look discolored with a yellow or bronze tinge
- There is fine webbing on the underside of plant leaves
- Flowers and leaves may get distorted particularly in azaleas
- Plants may start to die if the infestation is severe.
- There will be dead leaves
If you notice these signs and want to be sure of what you’re dealing with, you can hold a piece of white paper under the leaves of your plants and shake them. If you see tiny spider-like creatures drop down, then you have yourself a spider mite infestation.
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How to Control & Get Rid Of Spider Mites On Plants
Spider mites may be destructive to a garden but that doesn’t mean you can’t control spider mites. But don’t take out that spray bottle of insecticide just yet.
These chemical pesticides are known for killing beneficial insects that may help you in removing these insects from your garden plants. Like horticultural oil
Also, certain spider mites are resistant to pesticides and may aggravate your problem further. It’s better to use organic methods such as homemade contact sprays.
Homemade Spider Mite killer
- Neem oil spray: 1 tablespoon neem oil 2 cups water
- Alcohol spray: one part isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol 1 part water
- Insecticidal soap: 4 tablespoons of dish soap in 1 gallon of water (the best way would be to use mild dish soap with 1 gallon of water)
- Rosemary oil: 1 quart of water to 4 teaspoons rosemary oil
Here are some spider mites treatment and better ways to control these pests in your garden:
- Prune leaves, stems, and other infected parts of plants. Be sure to go past any webbing you see. You may have to pull entire plants to prevent mites from spreading.
- Wash plants with a strong stream of water with a garden hose to reduce spider mite populations.
- Introduce beneficial insects such as lady bugs, lacewing, phytoseiulus persimilis and predatory mites. Be sure to release them in your garden beds when pest levels are at a low or medium population.
- Use 100% cold pressed neem oil mixed with soap and water to spray your plants including the underside of the leaves to kill spider mites eggs and interrupt their reproductive cycle.
- Make sure your plants are not under stress to discourage spider mite infestations. Water your plants properly and conserve moisture through proper mulching.
- Regularly clean indoor plants. Dust attracts spider mites so be sure to remove any dust from the leaves of potted plants at least once a week. Use a moistened towel and wipe away any traces of dust.
A spider mite infestation doesn’t have to be the end of your garden. With good luck and the right tricks, you can gain spider mites control and your plants will be happier for it.
Now that you know how to get rid of spider mites on plants, do you have more tips about spider mites? Don’t forget to share them in the comments below!
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