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How to get rid of Spider Mites

How to get rid of Spider Mites

A common pest in temperate regions all over the world, the red spider mite is both deadly to indoor plants of all varieties and prone to explosive reproduction, so it is very important to know how to get rid of spider mites.

To make matters worse, spider mite infestations are notoriously difficult to deal with through traditional insecticides, making careful planning and expert foreknowledge an absolute must.

Fortunately, by acting quickly and keeping the information in this guide in mind, you will be able to both save your plants and eliminate these ravenous pests.

Identification of Spider Mites on Plants

The first step to effective spider mite control is proper insect identification on your house or garden plants

If you notice the symptoms of a spider mite infestation in your flowers, leaves or house plants — blotchy, yellow spots on leaves, with tiny holes chewed straight through the leaf  — remove a leaf from the plant and scrutinize it under a magnifying glass.

This might seem like a lot of work, but you want to make absolutely sure that spider mites are your problem, as they require very heavy duty spider mite control measures.

The other primary sign of spider mites are the silky webbing on the leaves – easily distinguishable from that of true spiders by its layered, tangled appearance – that most species produce.

Not all spider mites make such a webbing, but the presence of webbing virtually guarantees a mite infestation on your house or garden plants.

Should you notice black spots on the mites on the leaves, you may have a two-spotted spider mite infestation on your plant. These are a particularly difficult subspecies that will require extreme measures to contain.

Spread of Spider Mites Pests

Every species of spider mite has 2 things in common: all types of spider mite are predators of plants, and all breed at an explosive rate. A single spider mite female can spawn over a million mites in less than a month — most of these will be drone males which do little more than eat your plants and die, but some will be fertile females capable of producing a million mites each.

The mites can easily spread from one plant to another, so it is vital that you quarantine plants believed to be infested. Fortunately, this is very easy to do with indoor plants, but make sure to provide adequate distance between the leaves, as the mites can move quite quickly from on plant to another.

Finally, a two-spotted spider mite infestation is a huge problem, but can be at least partially solved by frequently misting the plants with a combination of water, soap and rubbing alcohol.

How to get rid of Spider Mites – Water, Spray & Neem Oil

The best method of spider mite control indoors is simple prevention. Wash your plants’ leaves regularly with water, and don’t be afraid to use a little pressure while using water them. Water or spray clears out any initial spider mites on your plant before they can grow too numerous, while water is also making life difficult for a variety of other pests.

It is also vital to remove any weeds from around the plant, as these provide both places for the spiders mite pests to hide and provide anchorage from which mites can launch themselves on to the plant’s vulnerable leaves – it is even more difficult for garden plants.

Next to water or spray – treating a plant with neem oil, a organic and very safe mite repellent, will also prevent spider mite infestations very effectively and relatively inexpensively. Simply rub a dab of neem oil on the underside of your plant’s leaves, particularly near the stem.

How to get rid of Spider Mites – Use Natural Predators to kill Mites

Although slightly distasteful for many who keep primarily indoor plants, patio plants can greatly benefit from the introduction of natural spider mite predators. The common ladybug is one of the best tools to kill spider mites, as they can consume a truly massive number of mites and utterly decimate a spider mite pests. Lacewing Larvae and predaceous thrips work equally well, although they are slightly more rare and may need to be purchased.

If you use this methods to kill spider mites, it is critical that you avoid any insecticides that kill the species you are introducing: examples include Carbaryl, Malathion and Imidacloprid.

Predatory mites are another organic option to use. While extremely effective in preventing spider mites from returning, predatory mites are typically insufficient to completely remove them in time to save the plant. When combined with ladybugs, however, they form an excellent mite-fighting team – and, interestingly, most ladybugs will only attack the spider mites, leaving the predatory varieties alone.

How to get rid of Spider Mites – Soft Organic Pesticides

Always make use of a number a organic pesticide solutions – spray or soap – to kill spider mites before moving on to a hard pesticide — they are far less likely to cause long term damage to your plant, and are often just as effective for removing the vast majority of red spider mite subspecies.

Next to neem oil Pyrethrum (as spray or soap) used to be an extremely effective pesticide for house and garden, but now many mites have developed a resistance to it.

Cinnamite, meanwhile, will kill most mites but leave their eggs intact. As such a cinnamite strategy will require frequent reapplication for at least two weeks to stamp out an infection – even then, it’s mostly a matter of luck due to the mite’s staggering reproductive capacity.

Some botanists make use of a solution of ground cinnamon, cloves, and a variable combination of spices to kill spider mites and protect their garden plant. This solution seems to work more effectively against the mites and their eggs than many commercial solutions but cannot be guaranteed. If you have introduced predatory mites, the use of rosemary oil can kill the spider mites while leaving your predatory mites unharmed.

How to get rid of Spider Mites – Hard Pesticides and Spray

Should worst come to worst to kill spider mites, you may be forced to implement a hard pesticide plan for spider mite control in your garden.

Dienochlor, Difocol, Azocyclotin, Fenbutatin, Bromoporpylate and Propagate are all effective against mites, but will need to be used in rotation lest the mites develop a resistance to the chemicals. These chemicals are intended for hardy outdoor plants in your garden, so always follow the manufacturers instructions, and err on side of caution to avoid harming your delicate indoor plants.

A light dusting of sulfur is another possibility, and is virtually guaranteed to kill all species of spider mites. Never use it in hot weather as it comes with a very high risk of drying out and damaging and even killing your plants. Think of sulfur as you “nuclear option,” appropriate only when all other measures have failed.

One comment

  1. If, in spite of taking preventative measures, you still see evidence of spider mites, hit your plants with a hard water spray three mornings in a row. The water pressure will remove the bugs and their protective webs from the leaves, causing them to fall to the ground and debilitating their movement.

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