If you want to know how to get rid of spider mites, you’ve come to the right place. We can show you how to get rid of spider mites on plants without hurting the plants themselves. First, though, there are several things to know about spider mites.
They are spiders, not insects. They are arachnids with eight legs and spin webs. They are tiny too, so small they are difficult to see with the naked eye without a magnifying glass. Since they live mainly on the underside of leaves, it can be difficult to spot them.
The life cycle of spider mites is extremely fast. In ideal conditions, the eggs only take three days to hatch and the larvae start feeding immediately. The female will be ready to lay eggs 5 days after hatching and can lay several hundred of them during her short 3-4 week lifespan.
This quick turn-around leads to explosive population growth once they establish a foothold, so as soon as you determine that you have spider mites, you need to immediately begin working on a plan to eliminate them.
In this guide you'll learn:
- What attracts spider mites?
- What natural remedies can be used to get rid of spider mites?
- Product suggestions for getting rid of spider mites.
- How to prevent spider mites in the first place
Keep on reading and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know! But if you're short on time, click here to jump to our suggestions for getting rid of spider mites.
What Attracts Spider Mites in the First Place?
This results in tiny white or yellow dots known as stipples. The leaves of infested plants will begin to wilt, turning brown or yellow. The damage will appear on the underside of the leaves before it becomes visible on top of them.
If the spider mite infestation is large enough, the plants will begin dropping leaves, losing productivity, and could even die.
Twospotted spider mites, Tetranynchus urticae, and southern red mites, Oligonychus ilicis, are the two most common spider mites. They are attracted to outdoor plants in hot, dry climates, but indoor plants and houseplants aren’t immune. Any dry conditions inside or out will attract them.
Fruit trees can become one of those infected plants, along with 200 different types of plants and trees. If spider mite populations grow large enough, they can infect the entire plant or tree. You need to control spider mites as soon as you spot them.
Read More: How to Keep Spiders Away
4 Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Spider Mites
There are natural predators in the arachnid family that kill spider mites and eat them. They’re called predatory mites and they’re nearly identical to spider mites. Under a magnifying glass, they have longer legs along with a shiny pear-shaped body that doesn’t have any spots
They’re basically cannibals because they’re closely related to spider mites. They kill and eat dozens of them every day. Once they eat all the spider mites they turn each other, becoming true cannibals, and eat each other until they’re all gone.
This is a nice, all-natural, self-regulating biological control method of spider mite control that won’t create more problems than it solves.
There are three types of predatory mites; Phytoseiulus persimilis is the first. It is extremely small (0.02 inches), bright reddish-orange with a teardrop-shaped body and long legs. It moves very fast.
Most insect predators are actually beneficial insects because they attack, kill, and eat spider mites. They include ladybugs, lacewings, big-eyed bugs, and ground beetles. This is a good way to control a spider mite infestation, but only outside.
Six-spotted thrips are also known to occasionally eat spider mites but they also attack plants. They don’t cause as much damage to the plant cells and leaves as spider mites, but still, this is not an ideal solution.
A mild solution of dish soap and water is a DIY method that will kill spider mites by suffocating them. Mix a few ounces of a mild dish or hand soap in a gallon of warm water. Use a sponge to gently wipe down the leaves of the infected plants with the soap solution.
As the soap dries, it creates a barrier that suffocates the spider mites. In a few hours, they’ll all be dead. Rinse the plants to remove the soap film and wash away the dead bodies.
You can do the same thing with insecticidal soap, horticultural oil, or rubbing alcohol. Just be careful to test it on one or two leaves first to see if the plants are sensitive to the soap, oil, or rubbing alcohol. After 2-3 days with no side effects, you can use it on the rest of the plant.
Pay attention to the undersides of the leaves when you do this. The spider mites are so small they’ll look like little specks on the leaves. Rub them gently. If it moves it’s a spider mite. If it doesn’t move, it’s a discoloration on the leaf.
That method is spider mite control inside the house. Outside, a quicker and easier method is to wash them off with the garden hose. Wash the tops and undersides of all the leaves.
In either case, be sure to wash off their webbing. Unlike most spiders, their webs aren’t for catching prey but for protecting themselves. Since spider mites prefer a hot dry environment, washing your plants with water acts as a repellent.
This is mainly for use inside or in greenhouses. If you suspect that spider mites have only attacked one or two plants and haven’t infested any nearby plants, remove the infected ones, place them in an airtight plastic bag, and throw it away.
NOTE: this method only works if the infestation is in its beginning stages.
Check out the following video for more methods of eradicating spider mites.
3 Miticides to Use to Get Rid of Spider Mites
Spider mites are highly resistant to ordinary pesticides. Their fast reproductive cycle is to blame for it. They hatch, mature, and reproduce so fast that most pesticides don’t have time to kill them before they begin laying eggs.
Small amounts of pesticide will pass through the female into the eggs, thereby immunizing them from that same pesticide when they hatch. The cycle repeats itself on a weekly basis until a generation is born that is completely immune to the pesticide.
Since regular pesticides won’t work, you’ll have to use something different. Miticides are pesticides specifically formulated to work on spider mites. Here are three miticides you can use.
In order to use them, you’ll have to get a heavy-duty, 1-gallon sprayer.
This is a broad-spectrum miticide/insecticide for controlling mites, spider mites, leafminers, aphids, thrips, and whiteflies. It is effective on foliage and flowers. Spray it on the undersides of leaves to kill the spider mites.
It is a concentrate that has to be mixed with a gallon of water to dilute it to the correct strength. Once it is mixed, spray all of it. Don’t leave any standing overnight. It is safe to use on crops, flowers, and ornamentals.
California has some of the strictest pesticide laws in the United States but this miticide meets all the state rules and regulations. Therefore, it is legal to buy and sell it in California.
It is safe to use on ornamental plants, whether in greenhouse or shade houses. It can be used in a nursery, in the field, on landscaping and interior plants to kill spider mites of all kinds.
The only limitation is that is should not be used on fruits when they are in the “bloom” stage.
This miticide uses the active ingredient Spiromesifen at 45.2% to control and kill spider mites and eriophid mites. For best results, use it as soon as spider mites appear on your plants and before leaf damage discoloration appears.
This miticide has the unusual distinction of being the only one that can control spider mites by being sprayed on top of the leaves. This makes it easier to use than the others.
2 Botanical Pyrethrums to Use to Get Rid of Spider Mites
Pyrethrum, which is found in the chrysanthemum flower, is a naturally occurring pesticide that kills insects quickly and is non-toxic to people. When pyrethrum is purified, it is called pyrethrin. Unfortunately, it is expensive and supplies are limited.
After World War II, scientists managed to synthesize a pyrethrin-like chemical in the laboratory called pyrethroid. This artificial version of pyrethrum is the active ingredient in many pesticides today. Pyrethroids are more toxic to insects and last longer than natural pyrethrins.
Pyrethrins are an organic pesticide, also referred to as a botanical pesticide to differentiate them from synthetic pyrethroids. Here are two pesticides that use botanical pyrethrins as an active ingredient.
PyGanic meets the National Organic Program (NOP) requirements for organic gardening. It kills over 200 crop-damaging insects such as spider mites, beetles, ants, and roaches.
It can be safely used crops like celery, cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes. It is safe for use on over 200 types of ornamentals, fruits, and vegetables.
This organic insecticide can be used on ants, aphids, beetles, fleas, flies, gnats, lice, mites, roaches, silverfish, spiders, spider mites, whiteflies and many more. It can be inside as well as outside.
Spray it on vegetables, fruits, and ornamentals. It isn’t harmful to children or pets but it kills almost any kind of insect that encounters it.
3 Bonus Remedies DIY Methods to Get Rid of Spider Mites
Spraying with pesticides or miticides, hand-washing your plants, or bringing in other bugs to fight the spider mites could be more than you want to tackle. That’s fine. There are still other methods of spider mite control available to you. Here are three.
Neem oil comes from neem trees in India. It has been used as an all-natural pesticide for centuries. It repels insects, inhibits their ability to feed and dissolves their exoskeleton. The best way to mix it varies with the insect you need to exterminate.
For spider mites, use 1 teaspoon of cold-pressed neem oil in a quart of warm water. Add a few drops of mild dish soap to help it stick to the plants. Mix it together in a 32-oz spray bottle. Spray it on the infected plants at least 2-3 times a week.
It is safe for pets, children, and your plants. You should see results in just a few days.
Another excellent essential oil for controlling spider mites is rosemary oil. Combine 1 teaspoon with 8 ounces of water, shake well, and spray. It controls dust mites, eriophyid mites, European red mites, persea mites, red spider mites, and spider mites.
As an interesting side note, rosemary oil won’t harm Phytoseiulus persimilis, the beneficial predatory mites we talked about earlier.
Diatomaceous earth is edible and often used for digestive problems. It is made from the fossilized exoskeletons of microscopic diatoms, tiny sea creatures. It desiccates (dehydrates) small insects that come in contact with it.
The smaller the insect or spider, the less moisture they can afford to lose before it becomes fatal. Spreading this fine powder all around and on your plants will dehydrate the spider mites faster than they can gain new moisture from the plants they’re feeding on.
Diatomaceous earth won’t dissolve in water so if it rains, it won’t wash away. It will still be there and still work. And since it is edible, it doesn’t matter if you wash off your fruits and vegetables or not before eating them. It will be perfectly safe.
Best Product Suggestion(s) for Getting Rid of Spider Mites
This is our favorite method for controlling spider mites because it’s a proven natural insecticide that is safe, yet easy to use. You just mix it with water and spray the plants.
This is our other favorite for stopping spider mites. It is a mechanical method that is easy to use, won’t wash away, and won’t cross-contaminate anything else you might be using to kill spider mites.
How to Prevent Spider Mites in the First Place
Spider mites prefer a hot dry climate and thrive in it when their enemies can’t. A wet or damp environment will repel them because it favorable reduces their ability to eliminate excess moisture they’ve absorbed from the plants they feed on.
As long as you don’t over-water your flowers, fruits, or vegetables, regular watering or misting will create conditions that are hostile to spider mites. This is the best thing you can do to prevent spider mites from invading you.
If you want to know how to get rid of spider mites naturally and keep them from approaching your crops, break out the garden hose.
Best Spider Mite Control Method
We always recommend combining multiple methods of pest control wherever possible. In this case, our two favorite methods of eliminating spider mites, PyGanic Gardening Botanical Insecticide and Diatomaceous Earth are complementary methods.
Use them together and you’ll be able to eject those critters in record time.
Other Spider Guides
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