How To Detect and Treat Spider Mites On Houseplants

So you’ve taken all the precautions, you’ve been diligent in checking your plants, and you even treated your greenery with a miticide last month. Yet despite all of that, you’re now beginning to see the signs of a new spider mite infestation.

spider mites

What to do? Relax.

Finding spider mites on houseplants does not necessarily mean the end of the world. All you need is the right product and a good strategy, and you can be mite-free in a relatively short amount of time.

Spider mites are invasive little creatures that are merely a nuisance to homeowners. But they can be devastating to farmers and horticulturists if they can do their dirty work unchecked. To keep them from being a problem in your garden or home, there are some things you need to do:

  • Learn to recognize the warning signs
  • Separate infested plants
  • Treat the infestation
  • Carry on with follow-up treatments for future prevention

Early Detection of Spider Mites

Early detection is the key to successful treatment, and nowhere is this more evident than in the control of spider mites. Spider mites are prolific little pests found in every corner of the world, damaging crops, household plants, and ornamentals daily. The peak season for mites is during the hottest and driest months of the summer and year-round indoors.

Most farmers are already well versed in these pests and know full well how to deal with them. The same cannot be said about many home gardeners. So for us, new farmers, a successful plan to kill mites requires early detection and diligence. This starts with a daily examination of all your plants by simply turning over the leaves and observing what you see. You’re looking for specific signs that tell you spider mites have arrived on the scene.

spider mite infestations
Examples of Damage & Visual Evidence of a Spider Mite Infestation

The Warning Signs

A good number of people who suffer from serious spider mite infestations claim they knew all of the warning signs before yet were still unsuccessful in preventing a full-scale infestation. That may very well be true for many of them.

But others only know what to look for after the spider mite infestation has gotten out of control. There are early warning signs that you can use to identify an infestation while still in its early stages.

Since spider mites are so tiny, they’re very hard to see and identify in the early stages of an infestation.

spider mite webbing
Evidence of Spider Mites on Leaves & Webbing at Branch Junction

What to Look For

In the earliest stages, all you should notice are little dark specks on the underside of your plant leaves. The protection of the underside of leaves makes a perfect home for spider mites to begin their feeding frenzy.

Female spider mites, which caused most of the problem, aggressively lay eggs as they move around the plant. Since the eggs are one-tenth the size of a mite, you probably won’t see them with the naked eye, but you should see the tiny little dark specks that are mites.

To confirm a spider mite infestation without magnification, hold a plain piece of white paper underneath the plant and gently tap on the leaves. If those in dark specks are indeed spider mites, they will fall to the paper where they can be more easily identified.

As an infestation progresses, you should notice several other things. First and foremost is a general discoloration, then tiny white dots scattered over the leaf’s upper surface. As the infestation advances, you will also notice fine silk-like webbing and ‘tenting’ on foliage.

In the most advanced stages of the infestation, you will clearly see entire sections of a plant void of any color and vitality.

How to Get Rid of Spider Mites on Houseplants

For many home horticulturists, houseplants are one of the most beautiful decorations to have around the house. But like any foliage, they are susceptible to the feared spider mite, an invasive species that seems to do very well in the same environments where plants thrive.

If your bushes experience a spider mite infestation, you must be diligent but careful to rid yourself of these pests. There are several methods you can use in combination to solve the problem.

Watering Your Plants Frequently

Spider mites reproduce and spread most readily in areas where temperatures are above 70°F and moisture is low. That’s why areas like Texas, Arkansas, and Southern California have a high incidence of spider mite infestations.

One of the simplest things to stave off an infestation is regularly watered your plants and keep the surrounding soil damp. In hot environments, you should use plenty of mulch to hold moisture in.

When you water your houseplants, make sure you thoroughly soak all of the leaves and stems. Petals are not as much of a problem, although they can be, because spider mites prefer to live on the undersides of leaves. By making sure leaves and stems are soaked, you will be washing away mites, their eggs, and any invitation for the pests to return.

Also, be sure to water first thing in the morning and the early evening to allow your plants to drive before sundown.

Treatment Application

The second part of the program involves either a miticide or a natural substance in a multi-part treatment plan. There are several miticides known to work with houseplants, but they can have unintended consequences.

For example, some miticides kill other insects, which results in the loss of the mite’s natural predators. Miticides can also be damaging if used during the flowering stage.

This form of chemical miticide treatment effectively kills adult spider mites on contact, but it is not always the best option because it can leave toxic residue on the plant and greenhouse.

Therefore, even though miticides can be effective, they can also be dangerous to plants and animals, and they tend to be more expensive.

A better solution is to use an organic treatment that leaves no residue. Organic treatments are made from botanical oils that penetrate the spider mite’s soft body or are inhaled into the body to stop the respiratory and digestive systems.

The biggest reason why this type of treatment is most successful is that it stops all living hatched mites without damaging the plant. When eggs begin to rip open due to the expanding nymph mite outgrowing its egg sac (usually two or three days before the hatching process is complete), you have a perfect opportunity to destroy the nymphs before they come fully out of their eggs before they start eating.

liquid ladybug

With an all-natural treatment, such as Liquid Ladybug Spider Mite Spray, you have a substance that works equally well without posing the added dangers. You’re getting a safe product as effective in bringing down a spider mite infestation costing you an arm and a leg.

Preventative treatments make the success rate of Liquid Ladybug and similar products very high. After you have rid yourself of the initial infestation, a follow-up application will prevent spider mites from returning once a week.

Apply your treatment at the first signs of infestation to kill the adult spider mites. Then, to interrupt the breeding cycle and bring the infestation to an end, you’ll need to apply another treatment on the following day. One final treatment 6 days later should completely obliterate the current round of spider mites. After that, a follow-up treatment every month or so will do the trick.

Diligence

The last part of your treatment plan involves regularly checking your houseplants for new spider mite arrivals. You’re looking for dark specks that resemble dirt or rust as well as fine, silk-like webs spun between the leaves and stems.

In doing so, you shut down the reproductive cycle preventing new eggs from being laid, and provide a window of time to remove all the rest of the remaining eggs, which, if left untreated, would re-establish the colony female. With the combination of these three things, your plants will be as beautiful as ever – and mite-free to boot!

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How To Detect and Treat Spider Mites On Houseplants

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