Alphabetical Plant Listing

Spider Mite

Tetranychus urticae and related species

Host Plants

Spider mites can damage a wide variety of plants, both indoors and outdoors. 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.

Regions impacted

Spider mites are found all over the world and are a common pest in many regions. They are especially problematic in warm, dry climates but can also cause damage in more temperate regions.


Spider mites are small, spider-like pests that feed on the leaves and stems of various plants. They are not true insects but belong to a group of arachnids known as Tetranychidae.

Adult spider mites are tiny, typically measuring less than 1 millimeter in length. They have a round or oval-shaped body and are typically reddish-brown to green in color. Some species have distinctive markings or patterns on their bodies.

Spider mites have four pairs of legs covered in fine hairs, giving them a velvety appearance. They move quickly and can be difficult to see with the naked eye, making them difficult to detect until significant damage has already been done.

Life Cycle

The life cycle of spider mites consists of several stages, including eggs, larvae, nymphs, and adults. The length of the life cycle can vary depending on the species of spider mite and environmental conditions, but it typically takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to complete.

  1. Eggs: Female spider mites lay their eggs on the undersides of leaves, typically in clusters of 2-20 eggs. The eggs are round, transparent, and can be difficult to see with the naked eye.

  2. Larvae: After hatching, the larvae are legless and resemble miniature versions of adult mites. They feed on plant sap, causing damage to the leaves and stems.

  3. Nymphs: The larvae molt into nymphs, which have legs and resemble small adults. They continue to feed and grow, molting several times as they mature.

  4. Adults: Once they have reached maturity, the nymphs become adult mites. Female adult mites can lay hundreds of eggs over the course of their lifetime, leading to rapid population growth.

The length of the life cycle and the number of generations produced in a season can vary depending on environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity. In warm, dry conditions, multiple generations can occur in a single growing season, making it important to monitor for signs of infestation and take action as soon as possible to prevent a population explosion.

Damage and Detection

Spider mites can cause significant damage to plants by feeding on the sap within the leaves and stems. This feeding can cause yellowing, stippling, or bronzing of the leaves, and over time, the leaves can turn brown and fall off. In addition to direct feeding damage, spider mites can also transmit plant viruses, further compounding the damage they cause.

Detection of spider mites can be challenging, as they are small and often difficult to see with the naked eye. Some signs that spider mites may be present on a plant include:

  1. Yellow or brown spots on the leaves: Spider mites feed by piercing plant cells and sucking out the sap, which can cause yellowing, stippling, or bronzing of the leaves.

  2. Fine webbing: Spider mites produce fine webbing, which can be seen on the undersides of leaves and on the stems of the plant.

  3. Leaf drop: Heavy infestations of spider mites can cause leaves to turn brown and fall off, reducing the overall health and appearance of the plant.

To detect spider mites, it's a good idea to inspect the undersides of leaves and check for fine webbing or damage to the leaves. A magnifying glass can be useful for getting a closer look. If spider mites are suspected, it's important to act quickly to prevent the population from growing and causing further damage.

Prevention and Control

Preventing and controlling spider mites is important to protect the health and appearance of plants. Here are some tips:

  1. Keep plants healthy: Healthy plants can withstand attacks from pests like spider mites. Make sure to water, fertilize, and prune your plants as needed to keep them healthy and strong.

  2. Avoid overcrowding: Overcrowding plants can create a humid environment conducive to spider mite populations. Make sure to space plants appropriately and provide adequate air circulation to reduce humidity levels.

  3. Monitor for signs of infestation: Regularly inspect your plants for signs of spider mite damage and webbing, and act quickly if you suspect an infestation.

  4. Use natural predators: Natural predators like ladybugs, lacewings, and predatory mites can help control spider mite populations. Consider introducing these beneficial insects to your garden to help control spider mites.

  5. Use a horticultural oil or insecticidal soap: If an infestation is detected, horticultural oil or insecticidal soap can be used to control spider mites. These products work by smothering the mites and their eggs and are typically safe for use on most plants.

  6. Keep an eye on the environment: Spider mites thrive in warm, dry conditions. By keeping the environment around your plants as cool and moist as possible, you can make it less hospitable to spider mites.

It's important to remember that different species of spider mites may have different life cycles and may require different control methods. Hence, it's always a good idea to consult with a local gardening expert or a university extension office for specific advice for your area.

Guide Information

BirdShutterB, 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.

Guide Information

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