Alphabetical Plant Listing

How To Get Rid of Spider Mites

6 Methods to Control and Get Rid of Spider Mites

Spider mites (Tetranychus spp.) are tiny pests that can damage and kill plants.

What are Spider Mites?

Spider mites are tiny, eight-legged pests that feed on the sap of plants. They are related to spiders and are considered to be a type of arachnid. There are many different species of spider mites, but all are known for causing damage to plants by feeding on the sap within the leaves and stems.

Spider mites are often so small that they can be difficult to see with the naked eye, but their damage is easily recognizable.

How Much Damage Do Spider Mites Do?

When spider mites feed on a plant, they pierce the plant cells and suck out the sap, which can cause yellowing, stippling, or bronzing of the leaves. Over time, the leaves can turn brown and fall off, reducing the overall health and appearance of the plant. Some of the most commonly affected plants include:

  1. Ornamental plants: Spider mites can damage ornamental plants such as roses, geraniums, petunias, and chrysanthemums.

  2. Fruit trees: Spider mites can damage fruit trees such as apple, peach, and plum trees.

  3. Vegetables: Spider mites can damage vegetable plants such as beans, peas, tomatoes, and peppers.

  4. Houseplants: Spider mites can damage indoor plants such as spider plants, English ivy, and peace lilies.

In addition to direct feeding damage, spider mites can also transmit plant viruses, further compounding the damage they cause. This can result in stunted growth, reduced yields, and even death of the plant in severe cases.

Spider mites are especially problematic in warm, dry environments and can cause significant damage to both indoor and outdoor plants. They are also highly adaptable and can quickly develop resistance to pesticides, making them difficult to control.

In general, it's important to monitor for signs of spider mite infestations and take appropriate action to prevent and control these pests to minimize the damage they cause to plants.

5 Methods to Control and Get Rid of Spider Mites

1 - Get Rid of Spider Mites by Keeping your Plants Healthy

Yes, keeping your plants healthy is one of the key ways to prevent and control spider mite infestations. Here's how:

  1. Watering: Make sure your plants are getting the right amount of water. Overwatering can create a moist environment that is attractive to spider mites, while underwatering can make your plants more susceptible to infestations.

  2. Humidity: Mites thrive in dry conditions, so keep the humidity levels around your plants high. This can be done by misting the plants with water, using a humidifier, or placing a tray of water near the plants.

  3. Sunlight: Provide your plants with plenty of bright, indirect light. This will help them grow strong and healthy.

  4. Pruning: Regularly prune dead leaves and other debris from your plants. This will help keep the environment clean and reduce the number of places where mites can hide.

  5. Pesticides: If you have a severe infestation, you can use a pesticide to eliminate the mites. Make sure to follow the instructions on the label carefully, and choose a pesticide that is safe for the type of plant you are treating.

2 - Get Rid of Spider Mites by Avoiding Overcrowding

Overcrowding can increase the risk of a spider mite infestation because it provides the mites with a more favorable environment. Here are some steps you can take to avoid overcrowding:

  1. Space plants properly: Make sure that each plant has enough room to grow and receive adequate light, water, and air circulation.

  2. Avoid over-potting: Don't plant seedlings in containers that are too large. Doing so can lead to a soil that stays too moist, which is an ideal environment for spider mites.

  3. Avoid over-fertilizing: Over-fertilizing can promote rapid plant growth and lead to overcrowding. Make sure to follow the instructions on the fertilizer package and avoid applying too much.

  4. Monitor growth: Regularly inspect your plants and remove any that are overcrowding their neighbors.

By avoiding overcrowding, you can reduce the risk of a spider mite infestation and help keep your plants healthy. If you do notice signs of a mite infestation, take action immediately to prevent the problem from spreading to other plants.

3 - Get Rid of Spider Mites with Natural Predators

Using natural predators is a safe and effective way to eliminate spider mites in your garden or indoor plants. Here are some common predators that you can use:

  1. Ladybugs: Ladybugs are voracious predators of spider mites and other small insects. They are available for purchase from many gardening stores.

  2. Predatory mites: Some species of mites are natural predators of spider mites. For example, Phytoseiulus persimilis is a predatory mite that specifically feeds on two-spotted spider mites.

  3. Lacewings: Green lacewing larvae are also effective at controlling spider mites.

  4. Minute pirate bugs: These tiny bugs feed on various small insects, including spider mites.

To use natural predators, simply introduce them to the infested area and allow them to do their work. It's important to remember that predators need to feed, so be sure to provide them with an adequate food source, such as aphids or other small insects, if they are not readily available in the environment.

In addition to using natural predators, it's also important to maintain the overall health of your plants, as healthy plants are less likely to be infested with spider mites in the first place.

4 - Get Rid of Spider Mites by Using a Horticultural Oil or Insecticidal Soap

Horticultural oils and insecticidal soaps are effective, non-toxic methods for getting rid of spider mites. Here's how to use them:

  1. Horticultural oil: Horticultural oil is a petroleum-based product that smothers spider mites and their eggs. To use it, mix the oil with water according to the package instructions and apply it to the infested plants. Be sure to cover the entire plant, including the undersides of the leaves, where mites are often found.

  2. Insecticidal soap: Insecticidal soap is a type of soap that is formulated to kill small insects like spider mites. To use it, mix the soap with water according to the package instructions and apply it to the infested plants. Make sure to cover the entire plant, including the undersides of the leaves.

It's important to follow the instructions on the product label carefully, as over-application can damage the plant. Additionally, horticultural oils and insecticidal soaps are most effective when used at the first sign of a mite infestation. If the infestation is severe, you may need to repeat the application several times to eliminate all the mites.

In addition to using horticultural oils or insecticidal soap, you can also take steps to keep your plants healthy and reduce the likelihood of a mite infestation, such as avoiding overcrowding, maintaining proper humidity levels, and providing adequate light and water.

5 - Get Rid of Spider Mites with Companion Planting

Companion planting is a gardening technique that involves planting certain plants near each other to provide mutual benefits. In the case of spider mites, certain plants can help repel or discourage pests.

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 Catherine Eckert, Shutterstock

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

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