This post will cover what spider mites are, how they affect your plants, and what you can do to protect your plants in the future.
What Do Spider Mites Look Like?
Spider mites (also known as webspinning mites) can be tricky to see as they are quite small, but they have small oval bodies and eight legs. Most varieties are white, red, or brown.
Once your plants are infected with the pest, it may be difficult to get rid of them unless you treat the plant quickly. It only takes a spider mite a week to mature, allowing them to double and triple their population in a short period of time.
Spider mites prefer warm, dry environments so those who live in warmer climates should stay alerts. You should also stay alert during the winter when running your heater. They can quickly travel from plant to plant through the air by riding their webbing and can easily slip through screens on windows or doors.
Why Spider Mites Are Attracted to Your Plants
Spider Mites seek out the stomata of eaves in order to feed off the plant cells of your plants. Over time, your leaves will lose the ability to retain water and will begin to wilt or change color, eventually shriveling up and falling off of your plant.
Symptoms of Spider Mites on Your Plants
Many people mistake damage done by spider mites as a plant that hasn’t been watered enough recently. It isn’t until you look substantially closer at the plant that you can see the effects of the pest or the spider mites themselves. There are a few things you can look for that will help you identify the pest so that you can take appropriate action in protecting your plant long term.
If your houseplants show the following symptoms, they may be victims of spider mites:
Examine the leaves of your plant. If you see stippling or silvery dots, you will likely find the tiny bugs that litter the underside of the leaves.
You will often find delicate webs between stems, underneath leaves, or in the corners where leaves meet the stem.
If you find brown spots or holes in the leaves, it could be a sign that spider mites have eaten through them. With the pests doubling their population so quickly, it’s no wonder they get hungry!
After noticing the above symptoms, look for the spider mites before treating them. Many times, the bugs will have died out on their own or will have moved on to greener leaves before damage is noticed. Look closely at the leaves, watching for movement, or gently shake the plant over colored paper to see what shows up. If you find live pests, you should act immediately.
How to Remove Spider Mites From Your Plants
The first thing you should always do when finding spider mites is to move the plant to an isolated location away from any other indoor plants. Then check other plants to see if you can see any early signs that the mites have moved to them.
Thoroughly clean the area where your infected plant sat before you moved it. Mites may be on the walls or ground around it and could re-infect the plant or nearby plants. Disinfect it to ensure that all have been killed and removed. Before moving to your plant treatment, make sure you clean your hands as well so that you don’t accidentally move more mites to those you wish to treat.
Once you have identified which foliage needs to be treated and have cleaned the areas where they have sat, you will need to prune and clean each plant thoroughly.
Here’s what you should do:
Step 1 – Prune the Plant
Use planting sheers to carefully remove any parts of the plant that have webbing and considerable damage. Carefully place these portions into a bag or bucket for disposal. Unfortunately, if you haven’t caught the issue fast enough, you may have to remove large sections on the plant in order to save the base.
Step 2 – Clean your plant
Spray your plant with water and clean off the leaves and stems with a soft cloth. While this may not remove all of the mites, it should get rid of many of them, as well as the debris they have left behind.
Step 3 – Spray Your Plant with Miticides
One of the best ways to clean spider mites from your plants is to first spray them with plant-based miticides. These can be purchased from the store or you can make your miticide at home. Try to use one that has all-natural ingredients. Make sure to start off on a leaf or two to ensure that the miticide won’t hurt your plant.
When to Destroy/Get Rid of Your Plant
At some point, you may realize that you will need to prune most of your plant in order to get rid of the damage or you can’t seem to get rid of the spider mites no matter what you try, you may need to destroy or get rid of your plant.
If you live in an area where they can live outside, you may be able to set them out on your patio (so long as there are no other plants nearby that they can harm) and introduce one of their predators to feed on them. Some of their predators include ladybugs and lacewings.
How to Prevent Spider Mites in the Future
Once you’ve gone to battle with spider mites, you understand how difficult it can be to get rid of them. Fortunately, there are ways you can protect your other plants in the future to help prevent another infestation. It will take a little work periodically, but you won’t have to worry about losing more plants to the pests.
Here’s what you can do: