Spiders mites are not just a nuisance; they can also be harmful to plants. Spider mites are very small, eight-legged creatures that feed on the sap of plants. Left untreated, they can cause extensive damage to plants.
There are several ways to get rid of spider mites on plants which I will go over in this article.
How to identify spider mites on your plants
The best way to determine if your plant has spider mites is by looking for the most common early signs of a spider mite infestation.
Early signs of spider mites on your plants
- White webs on the plant
- Leaves that are stippled, bronzed, or have brown spots
- Yellowing and/or curling leaves
If you suspect that your plant has spider mites, it is important to confirm this with a magnifying glass. Take a close look at the undersides of the leaves for very small, red, yellow, or brown creatures that are moving around.
If you see spider mites on your plant, you will need to take action right away to prevent them from doing further damage.
Types of spider mites
There are several types of spider mites, but the two most common are the red spider mite and the brown spider mite.
Red spider mite
The red spider mite is the most common type of spider mite. They are small, red, and oval-shaped. They can be found on all types of plants, but they prefer to feed on the leaves of young plants.
Brown spider mite
The brown spider mite is the second most common type of spider mite. They are small, brown, and oval-shaped. They can be found on all types of plants, but they prefer to feed on the leaves of mature plants.
You may also read about other varieties of spider mites such as these:
- Tiny red spider mites
- Black spider mites
- Two spotted spider mite
- Spruce spider mite
What do spider mites look like? (Pictures of spider mites)
Where do spider mites come from?
Spider mites are usually brought into the home on new plants. They can also be brought in on clothing or shoes. Once they are in the home, they can spread to other plants very quickly.
What conditions do spider mites thrive in?
Spider mites thrive in warm, dry conditions. They are most active in the summer months and are known for hating high humidity.
How to get rid of spider mites on indoor and outdoor plants
There are many natural treatments for getting rid of spider mites. Here’s our favorite methods:
Diatomaceous earth is a natural, non-toxic substance that can be used to kill spider mites. It works by puncturing the skin of the spider mites and causing them to dehydrate and die.
To use diatomaceous earth, sprinkle it liberally on the leaves of the plants that have spider mites. You can also put it in a spray bottle and mist it on the leaves. Reapply every few days until the spider mites are gone.
Alcohol can also be used to kill spider mites. It works by suffocating the spider mites.
To use alcohol, put it in a spray bottle and mist it on the leaves of the plants that have spider mites. Reapply every few days until the spider mites are gone.
Horticultural oil is a natural, non-toxic substance that can be used to kill spider mites. It works by suffocating the spider mites.
To use horticultural oil, put it in a spray bottle and mist it on the leaves of the plants that have spider mites. Reapply every few days until the spider mites are gone.
Neem oil is a natural, non-toxic substance that can be used to kill spider mites. It works by suffocating the spider mites.
To use neem oil, put it in a spray bottle and mist it on the leaves of the plants that have spider mites. Reapply every few days until the spider mites are gone.
Soap and water
Soap and water can also be used to kill spider mites. It works by breaking down the outer shell of the spider mite, causing them to die.
To use soap and water, mix a small amount of dish soap into a bucket of water. Soak the leaves of the plants that have spider mites in the soapy water. Rinse with clean water and repeat every few days until the spider mites are gone.
Spider mites hate humidity. If you can increase the humidity in the room where the plants are, it will help to kill the spider mites. You can increase the humidity with a humidifier or by putting the plants in a tray of water.
Essential oils can also be used to kill and control spider mites. They work by suffocating the spider mites.
To use essential oils, add a few drops to a spray bottle of water and mist it on the leaves of the plants that have spider mites. Reapply every few days until the spider mites are gone.
Hydrogen peroxide can also be used to kill spider mites. It works by breaking down the outer shell of the spider mite, causing them to die.
To use hydrogen peroxide, mix a small amount of hydrogen peroxide into a bucket of water. Soak the leaves of the plants that have spider mites in the solution. Rinse with clean water and repeat every few days until the spider mites are gone.
Predators that eat spider mites
Spider mites have quite a few natural predators that you can use to protect your plants from the tiny pests. These predatory insects can eat both the adults and the eggs making them one of the best ways of getting rid of spider mites and preventing them from coming back in the future.
Here are the 6 most common predators that will eat spider mites:
- Minute pirate bugs
- Predatory mites
- Praying mantis
Chemical Treatments (Insecticide/Pesticide)
If all of the natural methods for getting rid of spider mites fail, then you might have to resort to chemical treatments. Insecticides and pesticides are synthetic chemicals that kill insects, including spider mites.
When using an insecticide or pesticide, always read the label carefully and follow the instructions. Be sure to wear gloves and protective clothing when applying the chemical, and avoid contact with your skin. Also, be sure to keep pets and children away from the treated plants.
Chemical treatments should be used as a last resort, as they can be harmful to both humans and the environment.
How to prevent spider mites from coming back
There are six tips you can to help prevent spider mites from coming back in the future.
- Use natural predators or insecticides/pesticides to get rid of any spider mites that might be present on your plants.
- Increase the humidity in the room where the plants are.
- Keep the room clean and free of debris.
- Inspect your plants regularly for signs of spider mites.
- Quarantine new plants before adding them to your collection.
- Avoid stress to your plants. Spider mites thrive in conditions where plants are stressed.
With a little bit of effort, you can keep spider mites from being a problem in your home or garden. By following these tips, you can enjoy your plants without worry about these tiny pests.
How to kill spider mite eggs and larvae in the soil
The eggs and larvae are very difficult to kill, but there are a few things you can do to try.
One method is to heat the soil temperature. This is done by covering the soil with a tarp and letting the sun heat it up for a few weeks. The heat will kill the eggs and larvae.
Another method is to use diatomaceous earth. This is a natural product made from the fossilized remains of diatoms. It’s very sharp and can cut through the exoskeleton of the spider mites, causing them to die.
To use diatomaceous earth, sprinkle it on the soil and water it in. Reapply every few weeks until all of the eggs and larvae are gone.
Frequently asked questions about spider mites
Can spider mites live without plants?
No they can’t. See our full article that answers the question can spider mites live without plants.
Can spider mites live on humans?
No, spider mites do not live on humans. They are plant-feeding pests that only feed on the leaves of plants.
Why do spider mites keep coming back?
There are a few reasons why spider mites might keep coming back.
One reason is that they might be coming in from the outside. If your home is near a garden or other area that is infested with spider mites, they might be hitchhiking on you or your pet and coming into your home that way.
Another reason is that you might have a few plants that are infested with spider mites. The mites can lay eggs in the soil, and the larvae can survive in the soil for a long time. When they mature, they will come back up to the surface and infest your plants again.
What do spider mite bites look like?
Spider mite bites look like small red or brown spots on the skin. They are usually itchy and can be painful. If you have a severe reaction to the bite, you might experience swelling, redness, and hives.
What effects do spider mites have on humans?
None, spider mites are only harmful to plants.
Do spider mites have negative effects on cats or dogs?
Spider mites do not have any negative effects on cats or dogs. They are only harmful to plants.
What houseplants do spider mites like?
Spider mites can infest any type of houseplant. Some of the most common plants that they infest are ficus, ivy, and spider plants.
What is the life cycle of a spider mite?
The life cycle of a spider mite consists of four stages: egg, larva, nymph, and adult. Spider mites can lay up to 20 eggs at a time, and the eggs hatch in 3-5 days. The larva stage lasts for 5-6 days, and the nymph stage lasts for 7-10 days. Adults can live for up to two months.
During the egg and larva stages, the spider mites are very small and difficult to see. It’s only during the nymph and adult stages that they are visible to the naked eye.
Do spider mites come during flowering?
No, spider mites do not come during flowering. They are only present during the vegetative stage of the plant.
Will spider mites kill my plants?
Spider mites can kill your plants if they are left unchecked. They suck the sap out of the leaves, which can cause the leaves to turn yellow and eventually die. If the infestation is severe, the plant might not be able to recover.
What do spider mite webs look like?
Spider mite webs look like small, delicate webs. They are usually white or light-colored.
Do spider mites fly?
No, spider mites do not fly. They crawl from plant to plant, or they might hitch a ride on you or your pet.
Do all spider mites spin webs?
No, not all spider mites spin webs. Only the webspinning spider mites spin webs.
Can a plant recover from spider mites?
Yes, a plant can recover from spider mites if the infestation is not too severe. The plant might lose some leaves, but it will eventually produce new leaves.