These pests pop out of apparently nowhere and destroy your beloved houseplants. Yes, spider mites are pests that are dreaded by any plant lover and for the right reasons. If the problem is too big and extends beyond spider mites, you can get professional help by searching for “tree service near me”. Otherwise, you can take care of it yourself. But before that, let’s check out how you can identify them:
What are spider mites?
Spider mites are plant pests that are almost invisible due to their tiny size. The largest one you can find on your plant may be smaller than half a millimeter in length. That incredibly small size keeps them out of the radar of human eyes unless you’re actively looking for them with a magnifying glass or they group up in numbers. You may even dismiss them as specks of dust if you come across one. They thrive in colonies and aren’t true insects. So, the solution you use for taking care of insect pests may not work on them. Due to their incredibly high reproductive capability, they can become a real threat and create infestations very quickly. Let’s check out how you can identify spider mites:
- Brown or yellow spotting on leaves – Look at your plants carefully and search for any brown or yellow spots or stippling on the leaves. These are one of the effects of spider mites sucking on the sap of the leaves.
- Webbing – Well, these pests no matter how tiny are spiders after all. So, they create webbing like their arachnid brethren on many parts of the plants. If you spot webbing on or under the leaves or on the branches, then it’s highly likely that you may have a spider mite infestation.
- Dust on the top or bottom of leaves – If you live in a messy home or haven’t cleaned it in a while this one is going to be tough to spot. Otherwise, houseplants generally don’t have dust accumulated on them. If you spot dust accumulation on the leaves or under them, you may have a spider mite colony on your hand. To be extra sure, you can shake the suspected leaf with white paper underneath. If the dust falls on the paper instead of puffing into the air, you can be sure of a spider mite infestation.
- Dying and yellowing leaves – If your leaves are dying or turning yellow even when it gets full sunlight and water, and isn’t aging, it’s cause for suspicion. If they turn yellow without a real alternate cause, then you have spider mites to deal with.
Treating Spider Mites
Now that you know how to identify spider mites, let’s check out how you can get rid of them:
- Wash them away – Your plants need water and spider mites do not, at least not as much as plants. So washing them is the perfect solution. You can spray your plants with water and wash a significant amount of spider mites away. Make sure that you get both the top and bottom of the leaves since spider mites love to form colonies on the underside. This method can also wash away other pests that may be invading your plant and at the end that potted green looks gorgeous with glistening drops of water pouring down the foliage.
- Spray with pesticides – there are various pesticide solutions you can use for getting rid of the mites. You can mix two cups of water with half a tablespoon of neem oil and a tablespoon of mild dish soap. Fill that mixture in a spray bottle and test it on one leaf to check the tolerance. If the plants aren’t sensitive to neem, you can spray them all you want. If neem isn’t your thing, you can swap it with peppermint oil for a refreshing fragrance that also fights well against pests.
You can also make a spray of soap and alcohol for getting rid of the mites. Mix half a cup of rubbing alcohol with 1.5 tablespoons of mild dish soap and two cups of water. Here you swap out neem with alcohol and this is important because neem oil may not be readily available at your home or your nearby supermarket. Moreover, there’s no foreign smell you need to deal with. After you spray the plants with either solution, you need to rub off the leaves and branches with a cloth to prevent any damage to the plant. Store-bought pesticides aren’t recommended since they may be toxic to children and animals in your home and maybe too overpowering for a houseplant.
- Add beneficial predators – If you hate bugs this option isn’t for you. Otherwise, you can add beneficial insects to munch on the spider mites and get rid of your problem in the most organic and least invasive way possible. Ladybugs and green lacewings are great pest-eating insects, and they don’t just get rid of spider mites. If you have other pests feasting on your houseplants, like thrips, scale, aphids, mealybugs, or whiteflies, ladybugs and green lacewings are always more than happy to take care of them. Moreover, you can buy a whole living box of those beneficial insects from amazon.
- Ramp up humidity – Spider mites like to be dry and thrive in such conditions. Hence, killing them is very easy if you can increase the humidity levels around your plant. Get a humidifier for a room that houses most of your plants. However, you need to be careful about the humidity levels. Too much and you may invite mold growth. It’s best to keep the humidity at 50 percent.
Now that you know how to identify and get rid of spider mites, you can start working on your plants to get rid of those pesky pests. If there are other pests in your garden, then you can leave it to the pros by searching for “tree service near me”.