So... What are Spider Mites?
Adult spider mites are tiny plant pests that are actually a type of arachnid. Like spiders, they have eight legs and most species spin webs. They can be red, brown, yellow or light green in color.
Nymphs look like smaller versions of the adults, although when they are very young, they only have 6 legs.
The eggs of spider mites are actually quite sizeable when compared to the mites themselves.
Reproduction Patterns of Spider Mites
Spider mites can overwinter in either the adult or egg stage, usually under plant debris or other hidden area in gardens or lawns. They also may decide to venture into your home when the weather turns cooler.
In the beginning of spring, the adults will lay eggs. These eggs will hatch in 2-3 days, and a rapid development begins. The nymphs become adults in about a week.
The adult female spider mite can produce eggs every day for about a month -- often a dozen eggs are laid each day, resulting in a large number of offspring for each female spider mite.
With many generations being produced during a season, it is easy to see why a few spider mites can turn into a huge infestation, hurting and killing plants, grasses, and shrubs in your yard.
Spider Mite's Habitat
Spider mites are found throughout North America not only outside but also inside of homes, much to the chagrin of homeowners. They overwinter under vegetative debris left over from the fall harvest.
They can be found on fruit and vegetable crops in home gardens and farm fields. They also may live in and eat shrubbery and ornamental plants. Another place where certain species of the spider mite can be found is on turfgrass.
Spider mites tend to favor warm, dry weather. They eat much more in these conditions. When it is too hot or too cool, they often slow down their activities and lay fewer eggs.
Symptoms of Spider Mite Damage
Yellow spots may appear on the underneath part of the leaves as the spider mites suck the juice of the plant leaves. These leaves may turn yellow or white with brownish tips, and they may also fall off.
Fruits may look as if they are not developing correctly. Webbing on the plants may also indicate the presence of spider mites.
Results of Spider Mite Infestation
Plants may wither and die. Fruit may not develop fully and therefore be unmarketable.
Spider Mite Controls
The combination of Insecticidal Soap and Botanical Pyrethrins will kill Spider Mites on contact if they are spotted on your plants and Neem oil helps prevent re-infestation by killing the egg and larval stages of the insect.
Pyrethrin is a nerve agent and will paralyze and kill the insect on contact. Keep in mind this soap is not like dish detergent, it's a base from a blend of plant sources and pyrethrin oils and come from the chrysanthemum flower.
Spray Insect Soap & Pyrethrin as a contact killer. Use in accordance with directions on the product label.
Spray the neem oil product in accordance with directions on the product label.
Safer® Brand offers a variety of spider mite control products to help control and eliminate this garden pest and revive your plants. Please check out our spider mite control products for more details about how they work and how, when, and where they should be applied.
If you are concerned about a plant or unsure of how it will react to these solutions, test an inconspicuous area and wait 24 hours before full coverage. As a general rule, much like watering, do not use any liquid insecticides in the peak of the day or when temperatures exceed 90°F.
Certain insects and other mites are predators of the spider mite. Predatory insects include a lady beetle known as the spider mite destroyer, thrips and pirate bugs.
Mites that are predators of spider mites are commercially produced for sale and can be ordered by the home gardener or farmer.
Use caution when introducing predators in conjunction with insecticides. Spray an organic insecticide first, then introduce the predatory species to kill the rest of the infestation. Otherwise the insecticides may also kill these beneficial insects and arachnids.
If using commercially produced mites, be sure to read and follow all instructions that accompany the product to find out when to disperse the mites on the plants.
Since spider mites prefer drier conditions, watering your lawn, plants and gardens will help control infestations. Picking off leaves invaded by spider mites will help, especially with houseplants.
Water your garden or lawn with a sprinkler or irrigate your fields so they are adequately moistened, making a less favorable environment for the mites. Periodically hosing down individual plants to flush off the spider mites is another method of controlling spider mites without using insecticides.
Remove leaves of houseplants invaded by spider mites and discard them in a sealed bag in the trash. If you do not have a sealed bag, be sure to tie the bag shut to prevent the re-release of the spider mites.
Water your garden or fields when the conditions become dry or on a regular basis in arid areas. Hose off the plants when you notice the appearance of spider mites. This may need to be done every day or every few days throughout the growing season.
Remove affected leaves from houseplants as soon as you see spider mites appear or if you see yellow spotted areas on the leaves.