In the eyes of plant parents, the presence of destructive pests like spider mites can be a nuisance. They damage houseplants, garden vegetables, shrubs, and ornamental flowers swiftly.
To make matters worse, they are invisible sometimes.
Knowing how problematic spider mites are, you should find effective solutions to them. Therefore, use natural ways of getting rid of spider mites on your plants.
Keeping spider mites off plants surely is not a piece of cake. However, you can repel them naturally using home remedies and biological controls.
To discover all the natural and reliable solutions, please read on.
Table of Contents
- The Detection of Spider Mites
- How to Get Rid of Spider Mites on Outdoor and Indoor Plants Naturally
- Where Do Spider Mites Come From?
- Spider Mite Species
- How to Prevent Spider Mites
- Are Any Plants Resistant to Spider Mites?
- Do Spider Mites Bite Humans?
- How Long Does It Take to Repel Spider Mites?
- To Summarize
The Detection of Spider Mites
Eradicating spider mites is quite hard, but it is doable. Before effectively getting rid of them, you should dive into spider mite detection.
This involves looking at your plants. Here are three signs of an infestation:
White and Cottony Webs
Spider mites establish white, cottony webbing. Moreover, those delicate webs typically appear underneath leaves or in stems’ corners.
Although you find fine webbing on the leaves’ undersides, you should not necessarily focus on this first sign.
The reason is other plant pests introduce similar problems. Before quelling a spider mite problem, make sure you are really fighting against them.
Tan, White, or Yellow Spots
Spider mites contribute to speckled and dropping leaves. They like to suck out the juices of their host plants.
No surprise, the leaves appear dry, yellow, and stippled.
If your plants have brown, yellow, or white spots on the foliage, then they have gotten a spider mite infestation.
Other signs of an infestation are leaves’ holes. When attacking conifers, spider mites typically turn older, inner needles yellow before falling off.
Since spider mites target the pores of leaves or stomata, they make host plants vulnerable to water loss.
Moving Red or White Dots on the Leaves
To tell if mites live on your plant is easy. You can hold a white paper plate or a paper sheet under the leaves of the infested plant.
Then, tap on or shake those leaves with your finger or a pencil.
If spider mites are there, you will find tiny red or white crawlies falling onto the plate or paper and scurrying around.
At first, they look like little moving spots or specks.
Before spider mites’ populations explode, you cannot see the tiny moving dots with the naked eye. These critters are practically invisible because they come in the size of a sugar grain.
A magnifying glass or microscope will make your life easier.
Spider mites or webspinning mites are related to scorpions, daddy longlegs, spiders, and ticks. But some people confuse them with insects. Literally, they are arachnids.
Adult spider mites are quite easy to recognize since they feature extremely small oval bodies and four pairs of legs. They greatly range in color, too.
While spider mites are not lethal to humans, they are harmful to plants. In addition, these teeny-weeny critters can live for 2-4 weeks.
Despite spider mites’ short lifespan, they can multiply rapidly. These arachnids become mature in just a week.
Moreover, when females are 5 days old, they begin laying hundreds of eggs on the leaves’ undersides.
Their eggs also only take about 3 days to hatch.
How to Get Rid of Spider Mites on Outdoor and Indoor Plants Naturally
After identifying spider mites properly, it is time to embark on your eviction campaign. It definitely requires dedication.
Read on for some natural treatment methods that can save your lovely plants.
Use Essential Oils
Spider mites cause outdoor and indoor plants to be in poor health. As a plant parent, you should not take the spider mite problem lightly.
Using commercially available essential oils is a natural way to kill spider mites on plants. Due to their natural ingredients, they will leave your plants unharmed.
I highly recommend spearmint, coriander, and chamomile. Simply mix water with 2-3 drops of any essential oil before applying it to the affected leaves.
Another essential oil to try is rosemary oil. Just dilute it with water. Apart from repelling spider mites, it also is not harmful to humans.
If you find spider mites feeding on your herbs and vegetables, give this homemade spider mite killer a go.
To remove them naturally, consider using neem oil.
It contains azadirachtin so it can effectively repel existing and upcoming mites. You must re-apply this essential oil regularly, though.
Rely on Predatory Mites and Insects
Talking about powerful yet natural ways to get rid of spider mites on plants, take biological controls into consideration.
Encouraging predators certainly helps you to control their populations.
You can purchase natural predators of spider mites from online retailers or garden centers. If you want them to stick around, do not use pesticides since they harm bad and good mites at once.
Try mulching your garden and flower beds. Also, always water your plants regularly.
Just release predatory mites like Amblyseius andersoni and Phytoseiulus persimilis onto indoor and outdoor plants.
As for beneficial insects, you can employ spined soldier bugs, lacewings, thrips, ladybugs, and big-eyed bugs.
Predatory mites and insects devour hundreds of troublesome spider mites every day. Moreover, they do not put pets, humans, and plants in danger.
Make Home Remedies
Home remedies come in handy when it comes to repelling spider mites. These ways help you drive spider mites away.
You can kill unwanted mites by letting cotton balls soak the rubbing alcohol. Then, wipe across the affected leaves.
Let the alcohol sit on the infested plants for 2-3 hours before rinsing them off.
Make a dish soap solution to get rid of spider mites. Just mix a few tablespoons of soap with a gallon of water.
Then, apply this spider mite spray onto the affected foliage weekly.
Try Hot Peppers’ Extracts
Extracts from peppers such as cayenne peppers, jalapenos, and bell peppers are toxic to spider mites.
Additionally, they can eradicate about 45% of the adults’ total population.
Bishop’s crown peppers and lemon drop pepper also kill spider mites. Furthermore, you can either use homemade hot pepper repellent or buy it online.
Prune and Isolate Infested Plants
When you find out mites, it is advisable to prune out affected sections. After disposing of the leaves, you can try another method.
Do not forget to disinfect the area before moving the plants out. Also, you have to clean your hands afterward.
Where Do Spider Mites Come From?
These tiny pests can skillfully ride their webbing on the breeze. This ability makes them awesome windsurfers.
Spider mites hitch rides on plants and people, too.
Because of their tiny bodies, spider mites have outstanding mobility. Also, they usually come unnoticed through doors and window screens.
Spider Mite Species
Well, spider mites come in hundreds of different varieties and hues. Their colors include black, purple, red, green, brown, and yellow.
While some species are translucent, others change their colors. You can easily find European red spider mites on serviceberry and apple trees.
Furthermore, maple spider mites usually attack silver and red maples.
Besides those spider mite species, there are also boxwood mites, southern red mites, oak spider mites, and honeylocust spider mites.
Here are two common spider mite varieties you should know:
Spruce Spider Mite
Most species of spider mites become active during the summertime because they thrive in a dry, hot environment.
No wonder they get prevalent from July to September. Unlike other spider mites, spruce spider mite (Oligonychus ununguis) favors cooler weather in fall and spring.
This spider mite species launches quick assaults against various pine trees.
You can find this “cool season” spider mite easily on all conifers, from arborvitae to junipers to spruces.
It can cause gradual defoliation that possibly kills the tree.
Spruce spider mites turn the conifers’ needles yellow and bronze. However, this may not seem apparent until the summer comes.
During the winter months, this mite species is still in the egg stage. The adults attach their eggs to small branches.
Moreover, they hatch in March – April. The eggs develop completely in three or four weeks.
If summer temperatures exceed 86 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 consecutive days, the females lay dormant, over-summering eggs.
After the eggs hatch, adult spruce spider mites and nymphs resume their activity during the fall months as cooler temperatures arrive.
Two-Spotted Spider Mite
This “warm season” spider mite boasts two dark spots on its yellowish-orange body hence the name.
Additionally, two-spotted spider mites dwell together in colonies.
These mites attack many host plants such as weeds, houseplants, ornamentals, and field crops. In Ohio, they usually damage annual and perennial flowers.
While some females of two-spotted spider mites overwinter in the soil, others prefer host plants.
They get active in April-May as they’re looking for suitable hosts. Besides clinging onto the leaves’ undersides, they feed on plant juices.
Each female normally produces more than 100 eggs. Every generation requires about 5 to 20 days, depending on the temperature.
Two-spotted spider mites truly love hot and dry conditions. Despite cool, rainy periods, their populations often do not get affected.
During the summer months, the nymphs and adults turn white while featuring two greenish spots. This does not apply to overwintering females.
Since they are reddish-orange, you may mistake them for other mite varieties.
How to Prevent Spider Mites
Preventing the bad mites from harming your plants is the ultimate goal. Check these preventive actions out!
Do a White Paper Test
You can use this test to inspect for spider mites on your new houseplants. If nasty mites are not present, feel free to purchase those plants and bring them indoors.
Maintain the Humidity
Gardeners find spider mites pesky since they can breed quickly in a couple of weeks. They love warm, dry conditions too.
These plant pests can create a more serious problem during the wintertime when heating systems dry out the indoor air.
Since spider mites are fond of dryness, you must keep the air around the plants humid.
You can mist your plants periodically or rely on a humidifier to prevent serious spider mite infestations.
To deter spider mites, you must commit to regular watering. Giving peat moss to the soil also helps prevent their presence.
Keep away your plants from direct sunlight. Use a sheer curtain instead.
Clean Dusty Leaves
Spider mites definitely love plants with dusty leaves. You can discourage them by keeping dust on your plants to a minimum.
Do not forget to wipe the dirty leaves of the plants periodically using a damp cloth. A leaf shine also deters spider mites.
Blast outdoor and indoor plants with water occasionally. Since they are tiny, the water will wash them away quickly.
Are Any Plants Resistant to Spider Mites?
Plants are not fully immune to all species of spider mites. However, some varieties with thick leaves such as ZZ plants, snake plants, and jade plants typically do not experience severe damage.
On the other hand, those with thin foliage get affected badly.
Spider mites usually settle on some outdoor plants such as maples, oaks, evergreens, and roses. Besides shrubs and landscape trees, these mites attack tomatoes, beans, and cucurbits.
Do Spider Mites Bite Humans?
Despite their piercing mouthparts, spider mites will not bite through human skin. Moreover, they have no incentive to do so.
Spider mites are not blood-feeding pests. They are simply tiny creatures that only feed on the cells of the plants.
How Long Does It Take to Repel Spider Mites?
If infestations are not severe, it possibly takes 2-3 weeks to get rid of spider mites naturally.
However, if you employ natural predators, the problem disappears more quickly since they can consume hundreds of mites daily.
After reading through this article, you know spider mites are not toxic to humans. However, if you grow plants, they can be the stuff of nightmares.
Use treatment and prevention methods above to get rid of spider mites naturally.
They will help you keep your plants pest-free without harming pets and people. It is time to say goodbye to those minuscule menaces for good.