Spider Mites

Spider Mites: Identification and Control

Spider mites can wreak havoc and be problematic to indoor and outdoor plants. Fortunately, you can successfully get rid of them using natural and chemical methods. There are hundreds of different species of spider mites that attack various indoor and outdoor plants. They come in different colors, including yellow, red, green, and brown. While some are translucent, others change colors all year round. 

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Spider mites usually cluster beneath the leaves, causing damage by sucking the tissues.

Spider mites are a large group of plant pests that are not insects at all but are rather eight-legged arachnids closely related to ticks and spiders.

Spider mites are extremely tiny, 1/60 to 1/25 inch in size. They are often recognized by the fine silky webbing they spin on plants, and by the overall damage they cause to plant foliage.

They are active during the warm, dry conditions of summer, and can move from plant to plant, or outside to inside, by riding on people and other plants.

Spider Mites

How to identify spider mites?

Early identification of spider mites is important to get rid of it. The three most common signs of spider mites are:

  • White, tan, or yellow spots on the leaves of your plant. 
  • Very tiny red or white moving spots on the leaves when seen with a magnifying glass (these are the mites themselves). 
  • White, cottony webbing that appears on the underneath of the leaves.

Outdoor plants usually affected by spider mites are cucurbits (pumpkins, squash, cucumbers, etc.), tomatoes, beans, and various landscape shrubs and trees. Many indoor houseplants with thin, tender leaves can be affected by spider mites.

How to get rid of spider mites?

There are several natural and chemical methods for getting rid of spider mites. 

1. Natural methods

  • Spray With Water: Most types of mites thrive in dry, warm weather, and an effective control is to frequently spray plants with hard blasts of water, especially underneath the leaves. This treatment needs to be done regularly to keep the mites away from the plants. You can place indoor houseplants in a bathtub or kitchen sink to get treated with the faucet sprayer.
  • Use Insecticidal Oils or Soaps: Horticultural oil products produced from highly refined plant oils, such as citrus, are also extremely effective against mites since they suffocate the pests. Horticultural oils are less probable to kill beneficial insects than chemical pesticides. Insecticidal soaps that are manufactured to kill insects and other pests are usually effective against spider mites. Treat frequently until the mite problem is under control.
  • Encourage Predators: Various predatory insects and mites feed on spider mites. You can purchase several of them at larger garden centers or from online retailers to apply to plants you want to protect or get rid of. These predatory mites include: Phytoseiulus persimilis, Amblyseius andersoni, and Amblyseius californicus. Useful insects include ladybugs, big-eyed bugs, predatory thrips, lacewings, and spined soldier bugs. As spider mites have numerous natural predators, this approach may be effective enough in outdoor settings, where a variety of insect populations often help keep mites under control.
  • Use Neem Oil: Neem oil is a natural product extracted from the neem tree. Neem oil is safe for humans and most animals, however it kills various pests, insects, and mites. Neem oil contains an active compound, azadirachtin, that obstructs the mating, molting, egg-laying cycle, and feeding of mites and insects.

2. Chemical methods

  • Use Pyrethroid Pesticide: Pyrethroid pesticides are produced from natural pyrethrins combined with other chemicals to boost the performance of the pyrethrin. Pyrethrin is a natural derivative of certain kinds of chrysanthemum flowers. It is considered a safer pesticide in pure form. Nonetheless, pyrethroid pesticides are not regarded as organic as they contain added chemicals, though they are still a safer option compared to other purely synthetic chemical pesticides. Pyrethroid pesticides are generally suggested against spider mites.
  • Use Chemical Pesticide: Various commercial chemical pesticides will help you eliminate spider mite infestations, including bifenthrin, malathion, kelthane, and cyfluthrin. These should be used only for serious infestations of important plants, and only when other methods have not worked out. Chemical pesticides are harmful to humans and pets, therefore you should use them with caution, especially on fruits and vegetables. Ensure to read and follow label directions carefully. Spider mites swiftly build up a tolerance for chemical pesticides, so it’s best to switch from chemical to chemical if you find it important to apply repeated treatments.
  • Call a licensed pest control: Evergreen trees under attack by spider mites can be very difficult to treat by DIYers, and a licensed professional may have permission to use stronger pesticides that are inaccessible to homeowners. Such strong chemicals should only be used when less toxic methods do not give results and only when there is a chance of losing an important tree.

How to Prevent Spider Mites?

Ensure to check potted plants that spend summer months outdoors carefully before bringing them indoors for the winter. Especially, the dry winter months are favorable to spider mites, therefore it’s best to check for mites before bringing the plants indoors. Likewise, you should carefully check purchased plants before bringing them home from the garden center.

Ensure to keep indoor air humidified as it can help prevent serious infestations, especially if you also spray your houseplants frequently to eliminate and wash away mites before they start to cause damage.

All plants, both indoors and outdoors, if blasted with water occasionally, are less likely to experience spider mite infestations. Spider mites are easily washed away as they are very tiny pests.

To conclude, spider mites are tiny pests that wreak havoc on indoor and outdoor plants. They can be treated and eliminated using several natural and chemical methods. Inspecting your plants, especially, during dry, warm weather can help you prevent and keep them in control.

Contact Eden today to help you eliminate spider mites effectively from your indoor and outdoor plants. 

Enjoy a beautifully manicured lawn with our timely yard work services that care for your yard according to the season. Call us today!

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