Spider mites are garden pests that destroy both indoor and outdoor plants. Not only that, but nearly 23 percent of the world’s population is allergic to them.
Here, our pest control experts tell you:
- How To Eliminate Spider Mites Quickly
- How To Prevent Them From Returning
- How To Identify Spider Mites
- Common Signs of Spider Mite Damage
Ed has been working in the pest control industry for years helping 1,000's of homeowners navigate the world of insect and rodent management. He manages Pest Strategies now helping homeowners around the world!
Table of Contents
How To Get Rid of and Kill Spider Mites
Getting rid of spider mites requires an integrated pest management approach. Here are the crucial steps we recommend to eliminate these tiny plant killers.
1. Prune Damaged Leaves
The first thing to do is remove damaged leaves. This step will ensure you have better access when treating the rest of the plant.
2. Pressure Spraying
The most popular DIY method to control spider mites is spraying them with a garden hose. The water pressure will also knock down aphids in the process.
For small plants, use a spray bottle. You can also add a few drops of dish soap. Just be sure to rinse the plant with plain water afterward to remove any soapy residue.
3. Neem Oil
Use neem oil for a step up from regular dish soap. It is an oil extracted from the seeds of neem trees.
It is generally safe to use on most plants, and it works on several garden pests. For instance:
- Moth larvae
- Fungus gnats
Use four teaspoons per gallon of water. It is best to spray the entire plant to eliminate the adults. It also kills mite eggs as well as the newly-hatched young.
4. Insecticidal Soap
Insecticidal soaps contain salts from fatty acids to kill spider mites on contact. Since they are typically stronger than neem oil, it is vital to test these products first.
Spray the affected plant, paying particular attention to the underside of leaves. Be sure to flush the plant thoroughly with water to remove any residue left by the product.
5. Beneficial Insects
The greatest line of defense against spider mites are insects that feed on them. For example, thrips are natural predators of mites, reducing their populations. Lacewing larvae also keep spider mites in check by feeding on their eggs.
Spider mite destroyer ladybugs are available from local garden shops. These live insects devour up to 40 mites per day, per individual. They also lay their eggs near spider mite colonies, giving them a greater opportunity for continuous feasting.
Predatory mites are also offered either online or at your local garden retailer. These beneficial predators hunt down spider mites, making a quick meal of them. Best of all, they will not feed on your plants.
6. Chemical Miticides
Chemical pesticides are available for use against spider mites. Most contain pyrethrins to provide a quick knockdown of adults as well as eggs.
Despite that, it may be better to use products containing imidacloprid instead. They target only those mites that eat the host plant and spare the beneficial insects and mites that prey on them.
7. Natural Miticides
Natural miticides typically contain essential oil ingredients, such as:
They are all-natural and safe to spray directly on plant leaves. Use them as a knockdown treatment for spider mite infestations or as a defensive measure against several plant pests.
Due to the chemical composition of rubbing alcohol, it is best not to apply it to plants. While it may be safe to use on some species, it could cause damage to others. Also, there is not enough scientific evidence to support the safe usage of alcohol on leaves and stems.
How to Keep Spider Mites Away
1. Limit Dust
Dusty indoor spaces attract spider mites. Therefore, it is wise to keep your home free of dirt.
Start by wiping plants, furniture, and electric appliances with a lint-free cloth. Next, replace furnace filters to limit dust buildup in the home.
Outside, spray walkways and patios. Also, it is a good idea to soak trees periodically with a garden hose to remove accumulated dirt on leaves.
2. Control the Indoor Environment
Spider mites prefer hot weather above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooling the home’s temperature 10 degrees will have a dramatic effect on their reproduction. Likewise, raising the humidity levels indoors will also help limit the spider mite’s breeding cycle.
3. Reduce the Spread of Mites
When bringing home a new plant, it is best to quarantine it from your established ones. This step will ensure it will not infect the others if it is infested.
4. Use Defensive Spraying To Manage Mites
The most significant problem when using miticide sprays is that most species, including spider mites, tend to become resistant to them.
One way to get around this is to rotate sprays often. This includes neem and other natural oils.
Apply the mildest products first, working toward stronger ones if needed. The idea is to spray your plants regularly as a defense against plant-eating pests.
Did you know?
One female spider mite can lay up to 20 eggs per day, making spider mites one of the most prolific plant pests worldwide. Also, their life cycle only takes one week to complete.
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How To Find and Identify Spider Mites
You will need a magnifying glass to view spider mites since they are almost impossible to see with the naked eye. The largest females are only about 1.5 millimeters long. Most species are either reddish-brown or dark brown.
One female can lay up to 20 eggs per day, making spider mites one of the most prolific plant pests worldwide. Also, their life cycle only takes one week to complete.
The first telltale sign of spider mites is their vast network of webbing, which can cover almost the entire plant. They use these sticky structures to protect themselves and their eggs from predators.
Signs & Causes of a Spider Mite Infestation
The earliest sign of spider mite infestation is the formation of tiny white or yellow dots known as stipples on the plant’s leaves. Webbing will also start to form, resembling spider webs from larger arachnids.
After that, 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 plant will begin dropping leaves, losing productivity, and eventually dying.
Two-spotted spider mites, Tetranynchus urticae, and southern red spider mites, Oligonychus ilicis, are the two most common species. They are attracted to outdoor plants in hot, dry climates, but indoor plants and houseplants are not immune. Any dry conditions inside or out will attract spider mites.
Fruit trees can also become infected, along with 200 different types. If spider mite populations grow large enough, they can consume the entire plant or tree. That being the case, it is vital to control spider mites as soon as you notice them.
Spider mites are the number one pest problem for gardeners and indoor plant enthusiasts. Above all, they are challenging to eliminate.
Even so, it is not all about spraying pesticides everywhere. Instead, it takes a holistic approach, as we have shown you here.
If you are going to tackle the job yourself, at least wear minimal protective clothing, especially if you are spraying large areas of your garden. For example:
- Long sleeve shirt
- Long pants
- Rubber gloves
- Respirator with P100 filters
If you become confused about what to do next, do not be one of those too proud to consult with a professional. Even our experts consult with other experts. You will be glad you did since they can assess your unique situation firsthand.