Spider Mites

Spider Mites

Spider mite infestations can grow rapidly and can cause significant damage to your plants, or even kill them, so it’s important to take action as soon as possible!

SYMPTOMS & IDENTIFICATION

Spider mites appear as small dots that are reddish-brown to pale in color. In fact, they are very small; almost like the size of this dot --> . So rather than looking out for the mites themselves, it may be easier to check for the damage that they leave behind on your plants. Some of the first signs of spider mites are:

  • Light spots on the leaves, which will then eventually yellow and fall off

  • Larger colonies of spider mites may also create a fine web under the leaves

Spider Mites 1

TREATMENT PLAN

Treatment:

1. Isolate the infected plant

  • Spider mites feed on many different types of plants, so to prevent the infestation from spreading, make sure to place the infected plant in a closed-off location

2. Shower the plant with cold water

  • Spider mites hate anything below 40 °F (around 4.4 °C)

  • The force of the water itself should also be enough to remove most of the mites from the plant, as well as deterring new spider mites from taking hold

3. Increase the humidity around the plant

  • You can do this by misting your plant often

  • Alternatively, you could use a humidifier close to the plant

  • Spider mites prefer dry conditions, so this will help make the environment less hospitable for them, as well as keeping them free of dust (which they also like!)

4. Consider using recommended pest control for Spider mites

  • Spider mites can be controlled biologically by introducing natural predators such as lacewings, ladybugs or other Mite Predators such as Phytoseiulus persimilis. There are even beetles specifically called Spidermite Destroyers (Stethorus punctillum)

  • Insecticidal soap or Neem oil may also be helpful for spot-treating infestations

  • However, please note that Spider mites are usually resistant to common pesticides

Spider mites 3

CAN I AVOID THIS FROM HAPPENING AGAIN?

Check your plants regularly for signs of mite infestation, particularly webbing. This is especially important when conditions are very dry, such as during a drought, as this is when they are more likely to attack. Also make sure that your plants stay well-watered (but not overwatered, which could lead to root rot), and keep an extra eye on plants that appear to be under stress - these plants are extra vulnerable to Spider mites.


QUESTIONS ABOUT SPIDER MITES

WHAT DO THEY LOOK LIKE? Spider mites are actually not really insects - they’re arachnids, just like their namesake spiders. So, although they’re too small to be able to see properly, they look a bit like tiny little spiders: they’re oval-shaped and eight-legged.

HOW BIG ARE THEY? These little bugs are only around 1/50-inch long (less than 1mm), meaning they are very difficult to see with the naked eye.

HOW CAN I SPOT IF THEY HAVE DAMAGED MY PLANTS? Spider mites feed by piercing the leaf and then sucking up its contents. As a result of this, your plant’s leaves will be dotted with feeding marks, which show up as little light-coloured dots (stippling). If the infestation, and therefore the damage, is severe enough, yellowing of leaves and eventual leaf loss will occur, and the plant may stop growing altogether.

CAN THEY FLY? No, luckily not! Spider mites do not have wings. However, they are ‘wind surfers’, meaning that they can be carried by the breeze on their webs. Therefore, it’s important to carefully dispose of any infected material and remove all webbing to avoid the spread of mites to your other plants. Put any infected plant parts that you remove in the trash - don’t try to compost them.

HOW LONG DO THEY LIVE? When conditions are ideal for Spider mites (i.e. warm and dry), eggs are laid almost continuously. As such, it’s necessary to apply multiple treatments if you are using a form of pest control to remove them. Otherwise, you risk just removing the adults and not eliminating the entire generation. There are also many different types of Spider mites, and so the length of their life cycle can vary greatly: anything from just 5 days to a month. However, the treatment for each type is the same, so it’s not necessary to try to identify the exact type of Spider mite that your plant is suffering with.