Spider mites are the small insects of the Acari family. These pests are often found on indoor or outdoor plants. They are also known as destructive pests. These insects do look like small spiders, and that is why they are named spider mites.
It hurts when you see these creepy pests on your favorite plant! Whenever you find webs on your plant, consider it to be the first symbol of spider mites on your plant.
Symbols also include brown or black spots on the plant leaves. Once you suspect that something is wrong with your plant, take a white sheet, place it under your plant’s leaves, and shake it.
This might help you to find a few spider mites disturbing the health of your tree. There are around 1200 species of spider mites, and the most common ones are white, brown, red, yellow, and green.
These insects are difficult to spot because of their tiny sizes. Read the article below and know about various hacks which might help you a lot in the upcoming days.
How Do the Insects Look Like?
As mentioned above, these spider mites are found in various colors. These insects are little spiders. Among all the pests, black, green, white, and red spider mites are the most visible ones all around. The white spider mites are the dusty ones, and it isn’t easy to spot them.
Especially the white (dusty) spider mites. For these white spider mites, the plants look dirty and dusty too. From a distance, the plant seems to be filthy, and it feels like the plant has not been watered or bathed for several days, but the reality is the plant is being watered every day.
Hence taking closer views is essential! Until you see the plant close, you and your mind remain dusty, just like the plant from a distant view.
Tip – Hold the plant towards light and check which spider mites are present or moving out here and there with fine webbing.
These insects have got two black spots on each side of their oval shape bodies. I have also mentioned previously that it is quite challenging to spot the pests as these creatures are tiny in size. They are (1 mm) long.
The Life Cycle
Spider mites multiply quickly! The population gets doubled every two weeks. The journey of a spider mite begins as a small egg attached to the webs on the leaves of your plant.
These eggs give the owner a vibe of population growth. Adult spider mites lay their eggs under the leaves of the plant.
Fertilized eggs turn out to be females, and the unfertilized ones become males.
These eggs hatch, turning into larvae with six legs.
In this period, the spider mites remain colorless or transparent. These insects feed on sap and plant tissue and therefore cause spots on the leaves of the plants.
These pests are tiny suckers. Like this, the damage of the leaves begins.
As soon as they start feeding on these, their color changes, and they start developing, and the two dark spots also become visible soon after.
After having enough food, these pests become inactive for the time being and develop themselves into an eight-legged insect.
From now onwards, they know how to create webs. After this, another resting period occurs. This is the deutonymph stage, and the previous inactive period was the protonymph stage.
Both the nymph stages know how to create webs. After a molting process, the pest becomes an adult. Now they can reproduce and form webs. The color of these insects at times depends on the plant it is feeding on.
These spider mites’ entire life cycle consists of eggs, larva, nymph stages, and adulthood. These insects usually survive around four weeks. Within the twenty days of their life, they become mature enough to complete the process.
The female insects produce hundreds of tiny eggs during their lifetime and twenty eggs a day after adulthood. These pests reproduce mainly during the summer season.
The entire procedure takes a short time, but several stages are present in a spider mite’s life, as you can see I mentioned above.
These insects dislike humidity and drier conditions. Try keeping the soil moist by watering your plants but do not overwater them. You might face more problems then.
How to Identify the Spider Mites?
As mentioned above, to spot the spider mites, follow the webs on the leaves of your plant, if any. They usually create webs for their safety. You should follow the web because it is created to ensure safety. This is the easiest way of finding them as they are minimal in size and do look like dots.
These insects rest during the winter season and stay active mostly in the summer season because summer is all about heat and these pests love to embrace the heat.
Spider mites do not harm human beings or pets. They harm the indoor and the outdoor plants. Magnifying glasses are required to spot these insects. Without magnifying glasses, these pests look like little moving dots, but as you all know, the web looks like it becomes easier for the plant owners to identify them.
When you start noticing that your plants are getting damaged, you should understand that this might be happening for the spider mites. At that moment, you should instantly start searching for them.
These insects use their mouths to pierce the leaves of the plant. This leads to the discolored leaves, and if it is too severe, you will find little brown or white dots under the leaves of your plant.
These pests are oval-shaped and have got eight little legs. The eggs have got no color. They are transparent.
I have also mentioned before to shake the plant by placing a white sheet below it. You might get spider mites falling on your sheet.
These spider mites cause excessive damage to the leaves of your plants. Not only the spider webs but also the piercing of the leaves cause extensive damages to the plants.
You can find scars of brown or yellow color in damaged leaves and no more green color,
When the infestation becomes severe, the leaves, at times, do fall off as well, and the plant becomes useless. At that time, they are unable to produce more fruits. Even if they produce fruits, the quality of the fruits degrades.
This behavior should be controlled from the very beginning, or your plant might die from extreme damage. You may find small spots on your leaves which is the very first symbol of your plant damage.
Later these spots grow big, and therefore leaves turn yellow or get curled and ultimately fall off. Hence, these little pests are very harmful to both indoor and outdoor plants.
From Where Do the Pests Come?
There is no such fixed place. You will never get to know where these pests have come from! The spider mites can come from anywhere. These insects especially come to the plants which are newly brought to the houses.
As these plants are brought from garden centers, the plant might have existing spider mites that you never knew before because you just brought the little home. You may get aware of the fact later after witnessing few changes in your plant.
Spider mites may also come to your plant when you are repotting and the soil is not fertile.
Not only on the leaves of your plants but also you may find these insects on your t-shirt when you come back home from any nearby garden or garden center.
Your pets might be a source of these pests as well. Whenever you take your pets outside for a walk, these pests may come in along with your pets to your house and go on, damaging the indoor plants of your house.
If one plant gets affected by these insects, the process goes on, and the rest gets infected too, therefore, meeting death.
Tips to Getting Rid Of
Do cut off the leaves which have got discolored or curled. Removing off these leaves might help in improving the growth and the health of the infected plant. Do not throw these leaves nearby your house. Throw them at a distance.
This behavior will ensure more security for your plant. Alcohol, neem oil, and insecticidal soaps have a more significant role in removing these spider mites from the plants. You can also use any of the remedies mentioned above to eliminate these spider mites from your plants.
You can also use a telephone shower to wash away the webs from your plants. These telephone showers have got a different water force and might help the plant owners remove the insects from their plants.
Reports say that jalapenos, bell peppers, and other extracts from the various peppers can kill around 45 percent of the adult spider mites. Hot peppers are available everywhere in the local markets to the online sites.
You can use insecticidal soaps, liquid dish soaps, Castile soaps, or spider mite sprays to remove these harmful pests from the leaves of your plants. Take one teaspoon of the soap you prefer and a liter of lukewarm water. Mix them well and pour them in a spraying bottle, then apply.
These spraying bottles help the plant owner to spread the mixture all over the plant well. You can also use spider mite sprays. Maintain this process until and unless you see no spider mites at all.
These soap kinds of sprays help the plant owners to destroy the spider mite population. Once the liquid sticks to the bodies of the little pests, it suffocates them.
At times, the acid present in the liquid penetrates the insects’ bodies, therefore causing their death.
Not only spider mites but also other insects can be killed by following this process. Please do not keep these gardening materials in front of the children.
Neem oil is beneficial to control all sorts of insects. It is a natural solution for killing spider mites. Do prepare a solution with Castile soap (1 teaspoon), lukewarm water (1 liter), and neem oil (2 teaspoons).
Stir the solution well, pour it in a spraying bottle, and spray on the plant, especially on the stems, under the leaves, and to the various parts of your plant.
This solution does not harm any human, pets, birds, or worms because it is natural. This mixture disrupts the hormones of the insects, therefore, leading them to death.
Rosemary oil is also like neem oil. It helps in removing the pests from the houseplants. Take a spraying bottle and pour one teaspoon of rosemary oil and a liter of water. Mix it well and spray it on your plant. This oil also does not harm humans or pets, just like neem oil.
Isopropyl alcohol is used as rubbing alcohol. Put some isopropyl alcohol and water on a clean cloth, mix it and wipe the affected plant parts. As this is alcohol and not a natural oil, there might be symbols of burning on your plants’ leaves.
In this case, use 1% of alcohol in 3% of water and then wipe the plants. If your alcohol content becomes more than water, your plant may face different problems and that of the spider mites’ ones.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is natural, like the neem and the rosemary oil. This helps kill the spider mites because vinegar is highly acidic, and the insects hate this. Use two to three drops of liquid dish soap, one and fourth cups of vinegar, one tablespoon of baking soda, and one liter of lukewarm water.
Stir the ingredients well and pour them into a spraying bottle, then spray on the affected parts of your plant’s leaves. Spraying is done to ensure equality. So that all the affected leaves of a plant receive an equal amount of treatment.
Bathing of the Plants
Watering and bathing your plants are almost the same thing. Water turns out to be very useful in this case as once you water or bathes your plant regularly, and there are the least chances of infestation on the leaves of your plant.
The water should neither be too cold nor too hot. It should be present at room temperature. Do take special care of the bottom part of the leaves. This place is the prime target of the spider mites.
After watering or bathing your plant’s leaves, you can simply keep them aside or wipe the leaves with soft cotton balls. This helps more in removing the spider mites from the leaves.
This is to be practiced almost regularly, or else you and your plant might be the sufferers.
Spider mites love dry and hot atmospheres. High humidity does not let the spider mites destroy the leaves of the plants. If you can turn your home’s interior into a rainforest, then I think you will be the most beneficial one of all.
The soil should be kept moist by maintaining the watering norms. Let the soil dry, then water the plants again, or else overwatering might cause an issue.
Whenever you bring new plants home, please do check them thoroughly. Try finding whether there is any symbol of webs, leaves curled or discolored or not.
Do not bring plants to your home without checking or do thorough checking after bringing them home.
If not done, the other plants present in your home may suffer despite staying healthy.
Wiping the leaves creates a humid atmosphere around your plant. This does not let the spider mites come to the plant and start their destruction. Wiping also helps to remove little pests and therefore decreases the chances of plant damage.
In case you see your plant is in danger, the spider mites are spoiling your plant! Another thing you can do is to quarantine the victim – the infested plant. Quarantine is a word we all have come through, and it was dreadful for all of us.
So, if you do not want to see those scenes again, do quarantine the infested plant. Take it somewhere else so that the other plants do not get affected by it. Please do not take this as a punishment for your beloved kid. But this thing should be done to ensure the safety of your other kids (the lively plants of your indoor or outdoor garden).
Once the entire procedure is completed when in quarantine, most probably the spider mites will die, and again, your plant can come back to your garden to enjoy the company of other plants. It is just a matter of time and patience!