How to Get Rid of Spider Mites

Updated on March 9, 2018
OldRoses profile image

Caren White is a Master Gardener and instructor at Home Gardeners School. She has been associated with Rutgers Gardens for over a decade.

Source

See that web on the underside of that leaf? It wasn’t made by a spider. It was made by its cousin, the spider mite who got its name because it spins webs just like spiders.

Spider mites are not insects. They are spiders. You can tell by counting their legs. They have 8 legs like spiders instead of 6 legs which is characteristic of all insects. You’ll need a 10x magnifying lens to count the legs. Spider mites are tiny, only 1mm or 4/100ths of an inch in size and come in various colors. The easiest way to ID them is to place a sheet of paper under a leaf and shake the leaf. The tiny black dots that fall on the paper are the mites. It’s easier to see them on the paper with your magnifying lens than on the back of a leaf where they live.

Spider Mites and Eggs
Spider Mites and Eggs | Source

Know Your Enemy!

Spider mites live fast and die young. They hatch within 3 days and mature within 5 days. Females can lay up to 20 eggs per day. During their brief lifetime of only 2 to 4 weeks, they can lay hundreds of eggs. This quick life cycle allows them to easily become resistant to chemical pesticides.

Spider mites live on the undersides of leaves. They have a varied diet, enjoying plants like tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, strawberries, corn and beans. They spin their characteristic webs to protect their colonies, especially vulnerable eggs from predators. Since the mites themselves are so tiny, their webs are usually the first sign you will see indicating their presence.

You will may also notice that the leaves on your plants have developed yellow spots, have begun to curl or die and drop off of the plants. Spider mites feed by literally sucking the life out of your plants. They pierce the leaves and feed on the sap inside them.

Yellow spots on your plants are a good indication that spider mites have taken up residence on the undersides of the leaves.
Yellow spots on your plants are a good indication that spider mites have taken up residence on the undersides of the leaves. | Source

Hose 'em Down!

The best way to get rid of spider mites is with a hose. Attach a nozzle that will give you a strong spray and spray your plants, especially the undersides of the leaves. This knocks the mites off the leaves. You can do something similar for your houseplants. Turn them upside down in a sink and using the sprayer attachment, wash the leaves thoroughly. Alternatively, you can use a sponge to clean each individual leaf.

Use Neem Oil

Another tried and true method is to spray your plants with neem oil. It acts in different ways. It acts as a repellent preventing the mites from infesting your plants. It can interfere with their ability to feed. Neem can also interfere with their hormones making it difficult for them to lay eggs. You will need to spray for a couple of weeks, concentrating on the undersides of the leaves, to completely rid your plants of spider mites.

Curled leaves and webs are another indication of a spider mite infestation
Curled leaves and webs are another indication of a spider mite infestation | Source

Insecticidal Soaps

Insecticidal soaps are an ecologically friendly way to get rid of spider mites and insects that damage your plants. They work by smothering the pests. Just as soap can dry out your skin, insecticidal soap dries out the insects’ bodies, killing them. Like the neem oil, you will need to spray for a couple of weeks to make sure that you have gotten rid of all the adults and eggs.

The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend

Not all mites are bad. The predatory mite eats spider mites for breakfast. And lunch. And dinner. They love adults, juveniles, even eggs. They will happily eat up to 5 adults or juveniles each day or 20 eggs per day. You can purchase them for release in your garden. As with all predatory insects, don’t expect them to stick around forever. Once they have eaten all of the spider mites, they will move on to greener pastures in search of more food.

Predator Mite
Predator Mite | Source

It's Not the Heat, It's the Humidity

Spider mites thrive in hot, dry conditions. Keep your plants well-watered. The humidity from the moist soil will discourage the mites from moving in. If you allow your plants to become dry, especially in hot summer conditions, spider mites will make themselves at home.

Cleanliness is Key

A good way to stop an infestation of spider mites is by throwing them away. The minute you see an infected leaf, remove and discard it before the mites move on to the other leaves on the plant. If an entire plant is infested, dig it up, wrap it up and throw it in the garbage before it can infect your other plants.

Don't Bring Them Home!

You know that old saying about an ounce of prevention. When you are purchasing plants, examine them closely. If they show any signs of infestation, don’t buy them. Once you purchase your plants and bring them home, even if they seem perfectly healthy, isolate them from your other plants for at least a week to make sure that they aren’t harboring any unwelcome visitors.

Spider mites are tiny terrors. They reproduce quickly and suck the life out of your plants. Fortunately, getting rid of them is not difficult.

Questions & Answers

  • If you spray them with Dawn soap diluted by water, will this mixture kill the plants?

    Soap is will not harm plants, only the insects on the plants. This includes beneficial insects such as pollinators which you want on your plants so be careful where you spray your soapy mixture. Make sure that you are only spraying it on the pests that you want to kill.

© 2018 Caren White

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • OldRoses profile imageAUTHOR

      Caren White 

      2 months ago from Franklin Park, NJ

      It depends on the species. Not all spiders are dangerous to humans.

    • emmaadams01 profile image

      emmaadams01 

      2 months ago

      Spider can cause serious complications in the human body.

    • OldRoses profile imageAUTHOR

      Caren White 

      8 months ago from Franklin Park, NJ

      Thanks, Jo! Happy that you found it useful.

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 

      8 months ago from Tennessee

      Great advice for gardeners. Thanks for the info.

    • OldRoses profile imageAUTHOR

      Caren White 

      8 months ago from Franklin Park, NJ

      Peggy, I'm glad to hear those methods work for you. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      8 months ago from Houston, Texas

      The advice you gave is exactly what I have tried in our garden. I use water spray from the hose and have also used soapy water on them. Fortunately we don't have to battle them that often.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, dengarden.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://dengarden.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)