Spider mites are a common problem on houseplants. Find out how to beat these pesky pests in this ultimate guide to Spider Mites!
What are Spider Mites?
Spider mites are as the name suggests members of the arachnid family. They are tiny measuring in at no more than 1.25mm in length. They vary from white to brownish in colour. Eggs can lay dormant until they have favourable conditions. When these conditions are met they can multiple quickly and before you know it, you have an infestation on your hands. Their life cycle varies depending on the temperature, in 30degrees it can be as little as 8 days. Taking closer to 20 days in 20degrees. They thrive in warm and dry conditions.
What do Spider Mites do?
Due to their small size and the fact that they love hiding under leaves they can often go unnoticed. Signs of damage don’t show until there are large numbers on the plant. They feed by piercing the leaf and sucking up fluid. Damage shows as leaves turning yellow, drying up and dropping off.
Why are Spider Mites on my plant?
The most common reason houseplants get spiders mites is underwatering. Spider mites love dry conditions. They can also appear due to over feeding which can stress your plant and make them more susceptible to pests.
How do I Identify Spider Mites?
Spider mites are incredibly small and can be difficult to identify. Examining the underside of the leaf carefully they will appear as tiny dots they can be white to brownish. Many people use a magnifying glass. You can also hold a plain piece of paper under a leaf and shake the leaf, if they are present they will drop onto the paper. As the colony grows you can also see visible webs on your plant.
How do I get rid of Spider Mites?
They can take time to completely eradicate. But the good news is it can be done!
There are many treatment methods
- Using a solution of neem oil, castille soap and water to thouroghly spray down the plant and wipe the leaves to remove the mites. This can be repeated weekly until it is under control.
- Isopropyl alcohol, either wiping the leaves directly with a cotton ball soaked in isopropyl alcohol or mixing 1/3 isopropyl alcohol with 2/3 water in a spray bottle and spray and wipe the leaves. This can be repeated weekly.
- Water can also effectively kill spider mites if using a forceful spray. A good way to do this is to take your plant in to the shower! This can be done daily being careful to avoid the soil to avoid overwatering.
Mites can be successfully treated without the use of chemical products but if you would prefer to use something stronger make sure it is labelled as a miticide as insecticides are ineffective with mites.
How do I prevent Spider Mites?
Check your watering schedule to ensure you are watering your plant enough. Don’t over feed, check what your particular plant needs and be aware of dormancy periods. Humidity is one of the greatest tools you can use to keep spider mites at bay! Check out some tips on increasing humidity here. Regularly cleaning leaves, not only will this help to prevent pests but also gives you a chance to look for anything out of the ordinary. You can also use a mild neem oil solution to clean your plants leaves monthly, this will help to prevent pests.
Spider Mites are a common problem on houseplants but they can be dealt with effectively. Given the right conditions they can multiply quickly. If left untreated they can kill a plant so it is best to start treating as soon as you’ve identified the problem. Check your plants regularly for pests and nip them in the bud before they get out of control. And remember prevention is better than the cure! 🙂