Want to know How to Kill Spider Mites affecting your outdoor and indoor plants? Here’re the most effective ways to get rid of them.
For such a small size, spider mites can actually cause a great deal of havoc. They reside on the underside of the plant leaves and is a very common pest. Although they are tiny, still when present in large numbers they can cause considerable damage to the plant. In some cases, they also commence the death of the plant. This article will answer a few questions like “Where do Spider Mites Come from,” and “How to Kill Spider Mites.”
Where do Spider Mites Come from?
Spider mites are somewhat related to spiders and ticks, but they’re not the same. They are very tiny and difficult to see from bare eyes unless you look carefully. Their species also spin spider-like webs but rather small and dense to protect their eggs and young mites from predators.
Spider mites transfer through eggs, from the surroundings or from the infected plants you buy from the nursery. They survive the winters in the egg stage and thrive in the warm weather. They prefer hot and dry conditions around them and become active in the spring and summers. In a hot climate, their life cycle continues year round.
Mites are the most prevalent pests that indoor plant growers face as indoor conditions are most suitable for them due to normal temperature and dry air. That’s why one of the ways to prevent spider mites is gushing water on leaves of the affected plants.
Also Read: How to Save a Dying Houseplant
How to Identify Spider Mites?
The plant leaves infested with spider mites appear to have yellow spots on them. You’ll also observe a sickly silver look when the light falls on the leaves. If left untreated, the mites become greedy and can attack the upper side of leaves and even flowers. Ultimately, mites form a hole right through the leaves which will be visible to the naked eyes and thus becomes an apparent sign of infestation.
Discoloration, distortion, wilting, deformation, spotting, or streaking on the surface of the leaves are some other signs of a possible case of mite infestation. In case of severe damage, the leaves might also start to fall off. Here are some other points to keep in mind.
- Some species of spider mites produce white webbing around the feeding area. It is a noticeable giveaway on which you should keep a look.
- As spider mites are tiny, they are not easily visible to the naked eyes. You can use a magnifying glass to spot them.
- Bananas, strawberries, roses, fruit trees, potted begonias, broad-leafed weeds, herbs, frangipani, beans, and indoor houseplants are most susceptible to mite infestation. Be more vigilant with these types of plants.
How To Get Rid of Spider Mites
There are numerous ways by which you can control spider mites infestation. You can go for biological methods, or you can use chemicals. We’ll discuss both of them separately.
The methods listed under this are much safer for plants and the surrounding environment. The steps are simple to follow, and most of the things you’ll need will be available easily. Without any further ado here they are:
1. Removing Infected Parts
It is the most simple and obvious method of terminating the spread of spider mites, but it works when you identify the mite infestation at the initial stage. All you need to do is snip off the infected leaves and throw them in the trash. Also, collect all the fallen off leaves as they might infect the nearby plants.
Use a sealed bag for collecting leaves. Check the plant regularly and if you find infected leaves, get rid of them. Consider uprooting the plant in the severe case of mite infestation. It will give the nearby plants a better chance of survival.
2. Isolate the Plant
Once you notice that the plant is infested from mites, it’s vital to keep it isolated, or the infestation will soon follow the other plants. Houseplants are most commonly affected by mites, and it’s not difficult to isolate them from other houseplants. If you want to treat the plant make sure you isolate it with a plastic sheet covering.
3. Clean the Houseplants
Some of us have already developed a habit of regular cleaning of houseplants to get rid of dust and dirt from the leaves. This process serves another purpose by eliminating spider mites. Also, it’s non-toxic, efficient and straightforward. So, if you have not developed this habit now is the time to do so. Here is how to prepare the solution:
- A solution of lukewarm or room temperature water with mild soap or detergent can be used. Mix 3 tablespoons of soap per gallon of water. Castile soap is the most effective, but you can also use insecticidal soap.
- Gently wipe down the leaves using a sponge soaked in the solution. You can also pour the solution in a sprayer bottle and use it
- Weekly use this solution to treat the foliage until you get rid of the infestation completely. You can use it more frequently if you see positive results to counter the mites.
Tip: Some plants are very sensitive to soap solution so check on a small portion of the leaf before trying the solution on the whole plant.
4. Use Plant-Based Miticides
Miticides, which are plant-based use natural ingredients to get rid of mites. Ensuring that they’ll only kill the mites but does not harm other plants and insects in the vicinity. We have a list of such miticides here.
- Pyrethrum: A plant closely related to Chrysanthemum is used for the production of this miticide. Although a very effective remedy, mites can develop resistance against so even if you use it be observant.
- Cinnamite: Made from cinnamon oil it is a nontoxic miticide and is environmentally friendly. Make sure you use it every 3 days. As it does not affect eggs use it for two weeks so that not only adult mites but hatchlings are also exterminated.
- Neem oil: Obtained from the fruits and seeds of the neem tree, neem oil is an inexpensive way to prevent mites. Not only that but its also useful in case of powdery mildew and aphids.
- Rosemary oil: One great thing about rosemary oil is that it’ll only kill the spider mites, it’s beneficient for human and pets. Just mix it with water and spray it on the affected parts. Here is a study to support this claim.
Also Read: Organic Ways to Kill Aphids
5. Spraying with Hose Sprayer
A high-velocity water jet can work wonders when it comes to mite infestation control. The blast of water coming out from the hose end washes away the mites as well as dirt and dust with it. As mites love to reside on the underside of the leaves, it’s essential to target the underside of the leaves.
6. Homemade Herbal Tea
This herbal tea recipe is very effective in your mission of “How to Get Rid of Spider Mites” and you can make it at home with a few ingredients:
- In a quart of water, mix one tablespoon of ground cloves, one tablespoon of ground cinnamon and two tablespoons of Italian seasoning.
- Place the solution on a heater till it boils. Turn off the heat and let the solution to cool off somewhat.
- Add two tablespoons of crushed garlic to the solution and let it cool off completely.
- Use a sieve to strain the solution into another bowl and add a couple of drops of liquid dishwashing soap to it.
- Pour the solution in a sprayer and spray the underside of the leaves every three days. After a couple of times of application, you’ll notice that mite infestation has gone down considerably.
Also Read: How to Make Organic Insecticidal Soap
7. Using Organic Salts
Mites do not like fatty acids or potassium salts because of their rough texture. The abrasive surface of these substances is not suitable for their bodies. As the leaves should remain wet for an extended period for it to reach mites, it’s better to treat it late in the afternoon.
8. Keep Weeds in Check
Weeds not only take up space available for productive gardening but also provides shelter to many pests. Take away the shelter before mites start to breed there. Not only the rooted weeds but you should also need to remove the debris from the garden. It includes plant stems, fallen leaves, and any other part of the plant body.
9. Encourage Preying Insects
Some natural enemies of spider mites are ladybugs, lacewing larvae, and predacious thrips. But due to the use of chemical pesticides, the population of such common insects decreases drastically. So, to sustain the predator-prey cycle and keep mites population in check, stop using pesticides excessively. Carbaryl, malathion, and imidacloprid are among such harmful pesticides that you should steer clear of.
Treating With Chemicals
1. Apply Rubbing Alcohol
By using the alcohol on the underside of the affected plant, you can easily kill the mites. Use a clean cloth or cotton ball for this and pour a little amount of Isopropyl rubbing alcohol on it. Motion it on the infected leaves.
2. Use Proprietary Product
There are many proprietary products available in the market which are very effective against mites. Dienochlor, dicofol, azocyclotin, fenbutatin, bromopropylate are some of the chemicals which constitute such products. As the spider mites might become resistant to such chemicals, do not use these products excessively. The instructions to use is given on the product’s label.
3. Using Liquid Sulfur
Sulfur is another effective remedy for spider mites, and it is used in its liquid form. The powdered sulfur will also work, but it can harm you if it gets into your eyes or if you breathe it in from the air.
Caveat: Do not use liquid sulfur in hot weather, if the temperature is 90 F (32 C) or above as it may burn the leaves.
Also Read: How to Get Rid of Maggots