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How To Identify Spider Mites On Plants

Spider mites are common houseplant pests with piercing and sucking mouthparts. These tiny are related to the arachnid family of spiders. They can be quite destructive when they get into your greenhouse or gardens.

The key to dealing with spider mites on plants is to identify and detect them on time. By doing so, you can control the spider mite infestation before it becomes severe.

What Are Spider Mites?

Spider mites are tiny arachnids known to feed on both indoor and outdoor plants. Being arachnids, they are able to spin white webbings on plants. These webbings provide them with easy movement or access to parts of the plant. 

They move in clusters and can be found on the undersides of plant leaves. They are a very large species with over hundreds of different spider mites. Each specie of spider mite possesses a unique appearance in color or size. 

Identifying Spider Mites

Spider mites look like typical spiders. They possess very long legs of eight as adults and 6 in their larvae stage. Their skin is pale brown and their bodies are oval-shaped. When it comes to size, they are very small, all with them measuring 1/50 inches. 

Their larvae look a lot like the adult, they are, however, a little smaller. They possess piercing and sucking mouthparts which they use in feeding on plants. You can spot spider mites on plant leaves with ease. This is because they move as colonies. 

Spider Mites Life Cycle

Adults deposit spider mite eggs on leaves to keep them warm and safe. As the temperatures get warmer, they hatch and grow into larvae. At this stage, they go in search of food and a safe spot to molt into Nymphs. Two moltings later, they become adult spider mites. 

Spider mites have a quick life cycle as it takes 3 to 5 days to go from eggs to adults. The female adult spider mites can produce an average of 300 eggs a week.  

Spider Mites Damages On Leaves

An infested houseplant would have yellow spots or blotches on its leaves. This is due to the spider mite sucking up the juice within the plant.  You can also notice tiny white spots on the plant’s leaves. Spider mites also feed on plant chlorophyll and that could cause the white spots. 

There are some species of spider bugs that inject toxins into plant leaves while feeding. This can cause discoloration on the plant leaves and lead to them falling off.

How To Get Rid Of Spider Mites

If you notice a few symptoms or signs of an infestation, a quick response would be needed. You can try any of the following spider mites control treatments. 

  1. An easy method for treating spider mite infestation would be to spray the plant with water.  Use a powerful hose to ensure the pressure is high. Get rid of the spider mite web located at the undersides of the leaves. 
  1. You can also try introducing beneficial bugs on the plant. Ladybugs, spined soldier bugs, and lacewings all feed on spider mites. 
  1. Rubbing alcohol mixed with water can be a great insecticide against spider mites.  Spray the mixture all over the plant from its leaves to its flowers and stem. 
  1. Use Insecticidal soaps and horticultural oils to kill spider mites. They would need to be used often to clear a large infestation of spider mites. Horticultural oils should also be safe for beneficial insects. 
  1. Neem oil is another great organic pesticide to make use of. The azadirachtin contained in the oil works great in killing spider mites. It disrupts the natural cycle of spider mites which can lead to their death. 
  1. Chemical pesticides containing pyrethrin are used in treating spider mites. Although they are inorganic, they are still considered safe pesticides.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes spider mites?

Spider mites love a dry or hot environment. By underwatering your houseplant, you risk inviting them. 

Do spider mites kill plants?

Yes, but this is restricted to severe infestations. This is caused by severe feeding.

What is the best way to get rid of spider mites?

The use of rubbing alcohol is the most effective means to control spider mites.