If you’ve identified that spider mites are the creatures damaging your plants, you might be wondering “Where the hell do spider mites come from?” After all, these little buggers seem to destroy plants with malevolent intent.
While these pests are small in size, they can cause some serious damage to both leaves and fruit. If you’ve ever seen the stippling and discoloration they can cause, you know what I’m talking about.
But don’t fear, you can deal with these pests. However, before you do so, it’s important to learn about this pest’s life cycle and further understand how they harm plants. Once you know a bit more, you can figure out how to best control spider mites and kill them.
It’s time to make these microscopic pests a bit less mysterious.
What are Spider Mites?
While you may call them bugs, spider mites aren’t insects. They’re more closely related to spiders with their eight legs and lack of antennae.
However, you might not be able to see all these features because spider mites are tiny! The adult mites are 1/50 of an inch long and juveniles are even smaller. That means they’re hard to see with the naked eye. If you want to get a better look at these pests, grab a magnifying glass.
There are hundreds of different species of spider mites. Some of these species feed on just a couple of types of plants and others are less picky eaters. While some species thrive in cooler weather, the vast majority breed and feed when the weather is hot.
One of the most common types of these pests is the two-spotted spider mite. This mite feeds on over 200 species of plants and is a major pest for a variety of ornamental and agricultural plants. It thrives in hot weather, especially in dusty areas and during times of drought.
Best Spider Mite Killer
Grower’s Ally Spider Mite Control
All natural and safe spider mite control by Grower’s Ally is one of the absolute best ways to kill spider mites.
Use it on your plants in any stage; vegetative, blooming, or fruiting.
Controls spider mites and russet mites, in both adult and nymph stages.
All About the Spider Mite Life Cycle
Now that we know the basics about these pests, let’s learn a bit more about their life cycle.
Spider mites start their lives as eggs (see photo above) which adults lay on host plants. Depending on environmental conditions and the species of mite, these eggs hatch into larvae within a few days to a few weeks. Larvae only have six legs, rather than eight.
The larvae feed on the host plant for a few days before turning into eight-legged nymphs. These nymphs then feed for a few more days before turning into a second nymph stage. Once again, this nymph feeds for a few days and then turns into an adult.
You might have noticed a pattern here; the mites only take a few days to complete each life stage. This means that they can go from an egg to an adult in as little as one week, and you could have an infestation on your hands before you know it! It is important to note that cooler and wetter weather leads to slower growth in spider mite populations.
While most types of spider mites thrive in hot weather, they don’t disappear during colder weather. During the winter, spider mites remain as eggs or dormant adults.
Now we can answer the question of where these pests come from. While it may seem like spider mites appear out of nowhere, they may have been around your plants all along. However, numbers don’t become noticeable until weather conditions become favorable.
It’s also possible that they have traveled in on infested plant material or on the shoes and clothes of workers. They can even blow in with the wind!
What Damage Do Spider Mites Inflict?
Since these pests are so small, you might see the damage they cause before you actually see the pests themselves. Therefore, you can scout your plants for damage as well as the spider mites themselves.
Spider mites have sucking mouthparts which they use to drink the liquid contents of plant cells. This leads to many small dots on plant tissue — an appearance that’s known as stippling.
When many spider mites feed at once, a large number of dots morph together to cause discoloration. When you have an infestation, you may notice that your plant’s leaves appear bronze, yellow, or silver. Some species also feed on various fruits causing stippling on the fruit.
One more sign of spider mites is their namesake webbing. Once populations increase, the mites begin to form visible silk webs on or under plant leaves and stems. This webbing can help distinguish them from other small pests including aphids and thrips.
If you see webbing, make sure to check your plants for spider mites. You can look for the pests with your eyes, or place a piece of paper underneath the plant. If you give the plant a good shake, spider mites will fall onto the piece of paper, where they will be easier to see.
As you’ve probably guessed, plants don’t love having the life sucked out of them. If infestations get out of control, plants may die. So, it’s best to take action when you see the first sign of spider mites.
What Conditions Favor Spider Mites?
Most species of spider mites thrive in hot, dry conditions. As you might have guessed, spider mite infestations often pop up in times of drought. In indoor growing areas, spider mites are more likely to become a problem on underwatered plants.
Over-applying nutrients can also make your plants more susceptible to spider mites. If you’ve applied too much nitrogen, your plants are more likely to be attacked by spider mites and other pests. Wondering why?
Excessive nitrogen leads to small compounds known as”funny proteins.” These proteins don’t help the plant, but they do make plant sap sweeter, leading to an increased attack of sucking insects like spider mites. To avoid this problem, apply a balanced spectrum of nutrients, and only apply what your plant needs. There can be too much of a good thing.
Spider mites are also more difficult to control on larger plants and in areas with large numbers of plants. Since they reproduce rapidly, it’s harder to detect and treat them when they have more plant tissue to live and feed on.
How To Get Rid of Spider Mites on Plants, Including During Flowering
When controlling spider mites, you have three main options. These include physical, biological, and chemical methods.
If you’re trying to practice integrated pest management, you always want to start with the least invasive control method. That means attempting physical controls then biological controls and finally chemical controls.
If you notice an issue with these pests before they get out of control, you may be able to get rid of them using physical methods. However, this method really only works if you have a few small plants since you’ll be unable to find the mites in a larger growing area.
If the mites are limited to a small number of leaves, you might be able to prune off the infected tissue. Before you start removing leaves, make sure you think about how this pruning will affect your plant’s growth.
Fortunately, spider mites have a number of different natural enemies. If you’re growing outdoors, these predators often keep spider mite numbers in check. You can also buy and release some of these natural predators. With that said, these predators work better as a preventative than as a control method.
While spider mites are enemies, there are other types of mites!
Predatory mites can’t eliminate an infestation, but they may be able to prevent one from occurring in the first place by preying on small populations. Since predatory mites feed on spider mites, they’ll leave once they wipe out the pests and don’t have anything to eat. To keep the predatory mites around, you’ll need to release them more than once.
If physical and biological controls aren’t cutting it, you can turn to chemical control. As with all types of chemical control, there are both organic and synthetic chemicals available for spider mite control. And within each group, there are lots of different products.
When you’re choosing a product, there’s a number of factors to consider. Of course, the product needs to kill the pests! However, you also want to consider the cost of the product, how often you need to apply it, its re-entry interval, and how harmful it is to humans and beneficial insects.
Neem Oil for Spider Mites
There are a lot of pesticides available in the world, and choosing one can be overwhelming. When you’re picking a pesticide for spider mites, be aware that some types of pesticides, including carbaryl, organophosphates, and, pyrethroids can actually increase spider mite populations.
Why? These pesticides kill natural predators that are present in outdoor growing areas. They also increase the nitrogen content in leaves, which leaves plants more susceptible to attacks.
Horticultural oils like neem oil are better options. Neem oil is derived from the seeds of the neem tree. It’s been used around the world for hundreds of years to keep away pests.
Neem oil works by suffocating pests such as aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. In order for it to kill pets, it has to come into direct contact with them.
Azadirachtin: A Neem Derivative
Azadirachtin is a compound derived from seeds of the neem tree. While azadirachtin is derived from neem seeds, it controls pests differently than neem oil.
The major way azadirachtin works is by disrupting pest hormones. Azadirachtin has a similar structure to a group of hormones known as ecdysones. When insects come into contact with this pesticide, their natural hormones are disrupted.
When ecdysones are disturbed, the affected pests cannot complete metamorphosis. That means spider mites can’t turn into adults, their life cycle is disrupted, and populations plummet.
A final way azadirachtin works as a pesticide is by repelling pests.
Best Neem Oil
The highest quality Azadirachtin extract provides better leaf penetration, and pest lifecycle disruption.
It is a full featured insect growth regulator, anti-feedant, ovi-position deterrent
Why is AzaPro Best Spider Mite Killer?
Another way azadirachtin controls pests is by stopping feeding. Once spider mites ingest the compound, they stop eating and eventually die.
AzaPro contains a highly-bioactive and concentrated form of azadirachtin. As you’ve read above, azadirachtin is excellent at disrupting the spider mite life cycle and squashing infestations. And Azapro kills a wide variety of leaf eating pests beyond spider mites. It kills thrips, white fly, aphids, caterpillars, nematodes and more.
Another cool thing about AzaPro is its ability to move from one side of a leaf to another. When you spray crops with a product, it’s hard to coat all sides of the leaves. Unfortunately, spider mites and other pests love to hide on the undersides of leaves.
AzaPro makes it easy to reach these hiding pests. After you spray the product on the top of a leaf, it moves through the leaf to the underside. This action is called translaminar movement.
While this product covers all sides of a leaf, it doesn’t leave oily residues. This is because it contains less carrier oil than competing products. AzaPro also emulsifies easily.
Azapro Pest Life Cycle Disruption
Another great aspect of AzaPro is it that it’s safe for humans and the environment when used properly. Not only does this mean that you can use it with little worry, but it also makes scheduling your tasks easier. It’s also OMRI listed.
AzaPro’s re-entry interval is four hours, which means it’s safe to re-enter an area four hours after someone sprays. This means that you can spray and complete other tasks like pruning or fertilizing all in the same day. It also has a zero-day pre-harvest interval, so you can safely spray and harvest the same day.
To review, spider mites are tiny pests that attack plant leaves and fruit with their sucking mouthparts. Remember, these pests are not insects.
They thrive in hot and dry conditions, and they multiply rapidly in the right conditions. To keep these pests under control, it’s important to always be looking for them and take action as soon as you see some.
You can use physical, biological, and chemical control methods against spider mites. However, if infestations are severe, chemical control might be your only option.
When it comes time to pick a chemical control, look no further than AzaPro. Not only is it effective at killing these pests, but it’s also safe for you and your plants.
Spider Mites Treatment
Use mixture of alcohol and water to remove and kill visible spider mites. Dilute 1 cup of alcohol in 30 oz of water and pour this solution in the spray bottle. Spray both sides of leaves well and wipe them off with the paper towel.
Spider mites prefer hot, dusty conditions and usually are first found on trees or plants adjacent to dusty roadways or at margins of gardens. Plants under water stress also are highly susceptible. As foliage quality declines on heavily infested plants, female mites catch wind currents and disperse to other plants.What kills spider mites instantly? ›
Use Rubbing Alcohol
Kill spider mites by combining a mixture of 1 cup of rubbing alcohol and 4 cups of water, then spray the solution on your plants. Cover the stems, flowers, and foliage thoroughly. Rubbing alcohol kills spider mites by dehydrating them.
Naturally derived miticidal sprays like neem oil, pyrethrins, azadirachtin and horticultural oil can be sprayed directly onto adult mites, larvae, nymphs and eggs to kill on contact. Apply to active spider mite infestations at 3-day intervals until control is achieved.Will spider mites ever go away? ›
If your infestation isn't severe, depending on the spider mite control method, it will probably take a few weeks to completely get rid of the mites. If you opt for sprays, apply them weekly until the problem is under control.Do spider mites live in soil? ›
Spider mites are plant-eating mites that look like tiny spiders and attack more than 180 types of plants. In cool climates they spend the winter resting in soil; in warmer regions they live and feed year-round.How do spider mites just appear? ›
As you might have guessed, spider mite infestations often pop up in times of drought. In indoor growing areas, spider mites are more likely to become a problem on underwatered plants. Over-applying nutrients can also make your plants more susceptible to spider mites.Can you get spider mites growing indoor? ›
Spider mites can live on any type of indoor plant, but they prefer heat-loving plants. They also prefer plants that are close to the window, because they like warm environments. If you have one of these plants and notice tiny bugs on the leaves, inspect your house for signs of an infestation.What temperature kills spider mites? ›
These findings suggest that we may be able to eradicate the mites of all stages using one hot air treatment at 57°C for six hours or two treatments at 51°C for three hours at a 10-day interval to kill all eggs in the first treatment and those laid by survived adults in the second.What smell do spider mites hate? ›
Peppermint or rosemary extract in a misting spray could also do the trick. Spider mites hate the strong odor. Hose down your plants with water with high pressure if your plants can take it, as dust really encourages spider mites.
Key predators include predatory mites, which are about the same size as plant-feeding mites but have longer legs and are more active. Other common natural enemies include thrips, lacewings, and minute pirate bugs.Why won't spider mites go away? ›
Since spider mites love to live in dry conditions, keeping the humidity surrounding your plant at a higher level can help prevent their spread. This is one of the easiest and simplest methods to get rid of spider mites. You should also ensure that the plant is being properly watered so that it is well hydrated.Will spider mites get on humans? ›
Yes. Spider mites have mouthparts used for piercing plant cells and therefore occasionally bite humans. However, given their microscopic size, it's unlikely anyone would feel it, although they might note small, red pimply marks on the skin that look like a rash.How does hydrogen peroxide get rid of spider mites? ›
It's recommended that you use peroxide at a strength of three percent, which is full strength for the drugstore kind. Pour it into a spray bottle and spray the affected plants, making sure to soak the soil surface, crown and the undersides of the leaves.How often should you spray for spider mites? ›
The best way to get rid of spider mites is to spray them off with water every 5-7 days. You can do this with a spray bottle of water on smaller plants, and on larger plants, you could take them to the sink or shower and spray them off that way.How do you keep spider mites from spreading? ›
Preventing Spider Mite Infestation
The best way to keep spider mites away is to keep your plants consistently watered during dry weather. Not only will healthy plants be better able to fend off attacks, but spider mites tend to avoid moist conditions.
Conditions that allow spider mites to thrive
Spider mites thrive in hot, dry weather. Ideal conditions for spider mites are temperatures in the 80s (F) and above, and low humidity (less than 50%). However, populations can build up any time humidity is lower than 90%.
In addition to washing and spraying the plant, you can trim off heavily infested leaves and throw them into the garbage to get rid of even more of the spider mites and eggs. Be sure to throw the infested leaves into the garbage outside of your house!Can spider mites get in your bed? ›
Dust mites are related to spiders and scorpions and look like them too. Millions of them can live on your mattress at a time, even if you can't see any of them with the naked eye.Why do my plants keep getting spider mites? ›
Spider mites like dusty leaves on plants that are suffering from water stress. A good way to discourage them is by wiping dirty leaves periodically and making sure your watering schedule is right for your plant.
Spider mites are most common in hot, dry conditions, especially where their natural enemies have been killed off by insecticide use. Some of the many species common in North America are predators of the plant-feeding mites, which make up the vast majority.How do you get rid of spider mites naturally? ›
Mixing liquid dish soap and water is a DIY way to take care of invasive spider mites as the soap will stick to and suffocate them. Combine one quart of lukewarm water with one teaspoon of liquid dish soap, shake the solution up, and pour it into a spray bottle.What time of year do spider mites come out? ›
Twospotted spider mite infestations are particularly common during hot, dry summer weather. They live through the winter as eggs on vegetation. Larvae hatch and complete development in 1-2 weeks depending on the temperature. Under high temperatures (>90°F) colonies can reach high numbers in less than two weeks.How do you know if spider mites are gone? ›
Because spider mites are difficult to detect, use a handheld magnifying glass to observe the leaves more closely. You can also hold a sheet of white notebook paper under the leaves as you shake the plant. The mites should fall off the leaves and onto the paper where you can see them more clearly.What is the best spider mite killer? ›
- 1500 Live Ladybugs.
- Grower's Ally Spider Mite Control.
- Neem Oil.
- Diatomaceous Earth.
- Doktor Doom Spider Mite Knockout.
- Floramite SC.
- Safer Brand Insect Killing Soap.
Spider mites hatch and mature to egg-laying capabilities in as little as 3 days, and they can live for weeks.What scent keeps mites away? ›
Cedarwood Essential Oil
Not only do insects dislike the scent of this oil, but it also acts as a natural pesticide, that leaches moisture from insects and bugs, drying them out and eventually leaving them dead. Most Effective for Mosquitos, Flies, Moths, Fleas, Ticks, Lice, Ants, Mites and Silverfish.
Clove, peppermint, thyme, rosemary, and citronella oil are just a few essential oils that can help keep bugs away.Does garlic get rid of spider mites? ›
Garlic or onion against spider mites
Onions and garlic are not just groceries, which can be used in the kitchen just like fresh herbs. They also make a perfect weapon against various plant pests such as spider mites.
Rubbing alcohol dehydrates and kills spider mites. Mix 1 part rubbing alcohol to 4 parts water in a bowl and use a clean cloth to rub the leaves of your plant with the mixture. You can also put this mixture in a spray bottle and spray the leaves. Repeat daily until the mites are dead.
Demodex, a genus of tiny parasitic mites that live in or near hair follicles of mammals, are among the smallest of arthropods with two species Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis typically found on humans. Infestation with Demodex is common; prevalence in healthy adults varying between 23-100%.What happens if you touch spider mites? ›
Red spider mites are not harmful to humans. These mites can harm indoor and outdoor plants, but bring no major damage to humans or animals.How does Dawn get rid of spider mites? ›
- Add three tablespoons of Dawn dish soap to a gallon of water.
- Pluck out all the leaves with severe spider mite damage due to infestation.
- Pour the solution in a spray bottle and spray all over the infested areas of the plants.
It is perfectly safe for plants when properly diluted and used in moderation. Adding hydrogen peroxide to water promotes better growth in plants and boosts roots ability to absorb nutrients from the soil. Diluted 3% peroxide adds needed aeration to the soil of plants and helps control fungus in the soil.Will hydrogen peroxide hurt plants? ›
This extra oxygen (H2O2) gives hydrogen peroxide its beneficial properties. So, the answer to the question, “Does hydrogen peroxide hurt plants?” is a resolute no, provided the strength is sufficiently diluted. You can purchase hydrogen peroxide in various potencies.Why do I keep getting spider mites? ›
As you might have guessed, spider mite infestations often pop up in times of drought. In indoor growing areas, spider mites are more likely to become a problem on underwatered plants. Over-applying nutrients can also make your plants more susceptible to spider mites.What do spider mites hate? ›
Peppermint or rosemary extract in a misting spray could also do the trick. Spider mites hate the strong odor. Hose down your plants with water with high pressure if your plants can take it, as dust really encourages spider mites.How do you know when spider mites are gone? ›
Because spider mites are difficult to detect, use a handheld magnifying glass to observe the leaves more closely. You can also hold a sheet of white notebook paper under the leaves as you shake the plant. The mites should fall off the leaves and onto the paper where you can see them more clearly.Can spider mites get on humans? ›
Yes. Spider mites have mouthparts used for piercing plant cells and therefore occasionally bite humans. However, given their microscopic size, it's unlikely anyone would feel it, although they might note small, red pimply marks on the skin that look like a rash.Can spider mites travel on humans? ›
Can Spider Mites Live On Humans? Spider mites feed off plant cells and use the plant's surface to lay eggs and spin their protective webs. These mites need plant material to survive, making it impossible for them to live on humans.
Spider mites cannot live on humans because they need plant materials to sustain themselves. They use plants to spin their webs and lay their eggs, and they feed off the plants cells to survive. Spider mites can crawl or use clothing or other items as transportation to new plants, but they cannot live on humans.What conditions attract spider mites? ›
Spider mites thrive under hot, dusty conditions, so keeping the garden watered helps prevent problems. Spider mites also have numerous natural enemies that are easily wiped out by the use of pesticides. In organic gardens where beneficial insects are encouraged, spider mite problems are rare.Which plants attract spider mites? ›
Spider mites will infest most plants that a home gardener or market grower might raise. Tomatoes, lettuces, peas, beans, cucumbers, zucchini, winter squash, strawberries, blackberries, and fruit trees are all targets. They will also attack houseplants if conditions are ripe.What are the 3 ways you can get rid of spider mites? ›
- Create a soap solution. Mixing liquid dish soap and water is a DIY way to take care of invasive spider mites as the soap will stick to and suffocate them. ...
- Use rubbing alcohol. ...
- Encourage beneficial predators. ...
- Use neem oil. ...
- Spray rosemary oil.