Spider Mites: Top Recommended Prevention and Removal Tips

Spider mites infestation stipples and turns your plants into yellow or brown. However, removing and preventing them requires extensive knowledge to do so. To carry out this task, find out first what spider mites eat.

Then, we bring you our top recommended tips on how to prevent them and removal options. These gardening strategies remain easy with these few steps and take back your garden in a healthy, natural way.

The Effects of Spider Mites in your Garden

Focused View for the Colocasia gigantea Spider mites on a garden ornamental plant

Image: Public Domain US, Scot Nelson, Flickr

Few pests are as tricky to identify as the tiny spider mites. You’ll notice the symptoms before you see the tiny pest, and even the symptoms may be hard to spot.

If you have dead leaves and plants that aren’t thriving, whether they are indoor or outdoor plants, you may have a spider mite problem. These pesky arachnids love fruits, vegetables, ornamentals, and indoor plants, so be sure to keep an eye out.

This guide will tell you everything you need to know about spider mites. We also included what they are, how to find them, how to remove them and, most importantly, how to keep them from coming back.

If you want your plants to thrive in a natural and organic environment, it’s important that you protect them from invaders, both insects, and diseases.

Protecting your plant is the first step to a healthy yard, a beautiful ornamental or a calming herb garden.

The Characteristics of Spider Mites

Microscopic View of a Red spider mites Colony Tetranychus urticae

Image: CC by 2.0, Aleksey Gnilenkov, via Wikipedia Commons

This minuscule insect is actually an arachnid, and there are many different species. They are very small, and even the adults are usually around 0.4mm long. Typically, eggs become full-sized adults in about five days. Swarms of these tiny spiders are hard to see, but they can severely damage your plants.

Because they are hard to spot and can be mistaken for tiny flies or ants, you may even believe they look like dirt. You’ll see thin webs if there is a large enough colony. For most prevention and removal methods, it isn’t important what species of spider mite you have.

However, if you are looking for some natural remedies, such as natural predators, you’ll need to be able to identify the correct species of the spider mite. Spider mites are very hard to see, particularly the eggs.

So you may not know where the mites originated. If you find spider mite damage in your garden, be sure to use your prevention and removal methods on all the surrounding plants as well.

The Host of the Spider Mites 

Spider mites eat the chlorophyll in plant cells. This means they are attracted to almost every type of plant in your yard. They usually eat leaves but can eat sap as well.

Although almost any plant in your house or garden is at risk, they are particularly fond of fruits and vegetables. Dry plants may also have a high risk of spider mite infestation.

Do My Plants Have Spider Mites?

There are some telltale signs of spider mite damage to look out for. It can be hard to see at first, so the initial sign you may get is leaves that are simply dying off.

Once you inspect the leaves, you may see stippling, yellowing or even burnt leaves. When spider mites remove the chlorophyll from the plant cells, the leaves have small brown or yellowish spots.

The edges of the leaves may seem burnt, and the entire leaf will soon brown and fall off. If there are a lot of mites, you’ll even see some webs.

Spider mites prefer indoor conditions but can be seen on almost any plant in any environment. They are a very common pest, but thankfully, there are some easy ways to remove them.

How to Remove Spider Mites

Strong spider mites infestation on a young lemon plant

Image: CC by A-SA 3.0, Paramecium, via Wikipedia Commons

There are a few ways to remove spider mites, including some all-natural methods. Choose the strategy that fits your needs. Some are very quick-and-easy steps, while others are more difficult, but include more natural remedies.

The type of spider mite can determine the most effective strategy, so be prepared to try several methods. Once you have removed the spider mites, you’ll want to continue with prevention procedures.

It’s difficult to find every area where the tiny mites lay their eggs, so if you have one infestation, you may have another very soon.

Water

One of the simplest ways to both remove and prevent spider mites is water. First, well-watered plants will naturally be more resistant to spider mites. These mites prefer dry plants, so as long as your plants are hydrated, they can naturally resist spider mites.

Second, if you wash the leaves of your plants, you’ll likely clear away any spider mites webs and eggs that are already infesting it. A regular watering may work, but it’s recommended that you use a more high-powered approach. For a truly effective removal, you should use a high-powered sprayer.

Spray the plants with as much pressure as you can, without damaging the plants, and you’ll have a clear, clean garden without the use of chemicals. If the problem is with indoor plants, try handwashing the leaves.

Wiping the leaves with a wet cloth will not only remove the dust but also provide much-needed moisture. While there are dangers to over-watered plants, it’s usually a good idea to monitor the amount of water they need.

Pesticides

Regardless of how you feel about pesticide use, there are actually very few effective pesticides for spider mites. Most varieties will kill the natural predators but miss some of the spiders. This allows the spider mite population to grow without competition.

Instead, look for more organic options. One organic pesticide that is effective is Nuke Em. This food-grade pesticide works well in killing both spider mite adults and eggs.

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Natural Remedies

If you want to use a powerful liquid, but don’t like the idea of even an organic pesticide, certain oils, like Neem oil, can kill eggs and prevent spider mites from continuing to reproduce.

It won’t work as quickly, as it doesn’t kill the adult spider mites immediately, but it is a more natural solution.

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Natural Predators

For an even safer, but more complex, solution, consider introducing natural predators. Fighting fire with fire, there are some larger spider mites that don’t harm your plants but instead eat the tiny, troublesome spider mites.

This is the most organic, non-invasive option, but it’s only effective if you know the exact species of spider mite that is attacking your plants.

How to Prevent Spider Mites

Indoor Potted Washed Lemon Kush Plant from spider mites infestation

Image: CC by 2.0, Mark, via Flickr

Now that you’ve removed all the spider mites from your plants and garden, you’ll want a strategy for prevention. If there were spider mites before, there’s a good chance they will come back.

To make sure your plants aren’t damaged in the first place, try one of these prevention strategies before applying any yard fertilizers. You may need to try a few before you find one that is convenient, easy to apply and effective.

Washing

Washing the dust-off leaves and fruit trees is not only a good way to eliminate spider mites, but it’s also an effective prevention strategy. Thoroughly wash your plants a few times each season, and there’s a good chance you won’t ever see signs of spider mites.

You shouldn’t need to use a pesticide or oil, but these might give you a stronger layer of defense. Before using pesticides as a preventative measure, consider the pros and cons. If you have had issues with mites in the past, it may be wise to use a heavy-duty protective measure.

If you’ve never seen a spider mite, you may want to start with a light water washing, rather than resorting to extreme measures. This applies if you have indoor potted plants as well. 

Watering

Not surprisingly, another effective elimination tool that is also good for prevention is watering. By keeping your plants well-watered in the first place, you may never see a spider mite. Again, depending on the particular plant, make sure you don’t over-water it.

Too much water can also damage your plants. Traveling and walking sprinklers help a lot. Research each plant variety, and make sure you know the correct amount of water your plant should be getting. You may be surprised at how different each plant is.

Avoid Too Much Sunlight

While most plants love being in direct sunlight for long periods of time, it can also dry out your plant. A dry plant is a breeding ground for spider mites, so you need to strike a balance between sunlight and shade.

Giving your plants some shade and humidity can be all you need to avoid the next infestation.  Again, each plant has a different amount of ideal sunlight, so be sure to study your individual plant’s needs.

You won’t be able to control the amount of sunlight outdoor gardens receive but take the amount of sunlight into account on hot days. If it is especially hot and dry, be sure to water your plants a little extra.

No More Spider Mites! 

Eggplant Plantation Free from Spider mites infestation through natural remedies and washing

Image: Public Domain US, Scot Nelson, Flickr

The last thing you want to see in any garden or on any plant is signs of an infestation. There are many beneficial insects that help promote a healthy environment for your garden. Spider mites are harmful and can be very damaging in large numbers.

Routinely inspect your plants and look out for signs of spider mite damage. If you suspect an infestation, determine which removal and prevention route you want to take.

As with anything in the garden, it takes patience, determination, and consistency. Your first strategy may not work out, and you may battle with spider mites year after year.

With these steps, however, you’ll soon find the most effective removal and prevention methods for spider mites. Whether you are tending a single succulent in your home or a commercial orchard, spider mite prevention is an important tool in your gardening toolbox.

 

 

Featured Image: CC by 3.0, CSIRO, via Wikipedia Commons

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Lucy M. Clark
 

Hi there! I’m Lucy, and I’m a self-confessed garden fanatic. Gardening has always been a passion of mine and will always be my favorite pastime. Now that I am married and have one adorable son, I have the time to write and share my personal experiences with other garden enthusiasts like me.

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