Have you ever seen tiny spider webs on your plants? If you have Aralias, Calatheas, or indoor palms, you may notice that your plant appears dusty at some point.
Your first instinct may be to grab the duster, but it might not be dust. Instead, the spider web mold on your plants might indicate the pesky pest called a spider mite.
While spider mites can infest any plant, they love to feast on thin, broad leaves. The plants in the Araliaceae, Marantaceae, and Apocynaceae families enjoyable.
What Are Spider Mites?
Spider mites are part of the arachnid group. They can spin webs, they are not like traditional spider webs. Instead, their webs are more cloth-like than a typical netted spider web.
Most of the time, because of their tiny size you won’t even notice spider mites. It is not until you see their web on your plant that you realize their presence.
With their piercing mouthparts, they feed on the juice of plants. While they may be tiny, they live in colonies of over a hundred other spider mites.
These small sap-sucking mites live on the underside of your plant’s leaves. With a close inspection, you can see mites slowly crawling across the leaf.
How Can Spider Mites Harm Your Plant?
Both indoor and outdoor plants can be affected by a spider mite infestation. Spider mites harm plants by piercing and damaging plant cells.
Since they are so small, an infestation can happen almost overnight, with damage to your plant relatively quickly.
Signs of a Spider Mite Infestation
One of the first signs of a spider mite infestation is the yellowing of your plant’s leaves, or the leaves may fall prematurely.
In a severe infestation, the webbing can cover the entire plant.
Annuals are much more susceptible to severe damage from spider mites because they depend on their leaves for fruit.
So, the plant is vulnerable to sun-scalding when the spider mites cause leaf loss.
A severe spider mite infestation can not only stunt a plant’s growth but can even kill the plant.
What Causes Spider Mites?
Here are different reasons that cause spider mites to appear on your plants.
Spider mites hate moisture and thrive in hot and arid conditions. Therefore, the ideal environment for an infestation is around 80° degrees Fahrenheit with low humidity.
So it comes as no surprise that the perfect time for spider mite infestations is during times of drought.
While there is a common worry about overwatering your plants, underwatering them can also be harmful.
Because spider mites prefer dry conditions, an underwatered plant with dry soil can attract mites to the plant’s leaves.
If you have an indoor plant, spider mites are more common with underwatered plants and dry air.
Too Much Nitrogen
While many gardeners fear their plant isn’t getting enough nutrients, over-applying them can be just as harmful.
For example, applying too much fertilizer can make your plant vulnerable to spider mites.
Spider mites enjoy the sweeter sap from excessive nitrogen, which is a good reminder to use a balanced fertilizer only when necessary.
In this case, overfertilizing will not make your plant grow faster or stronger.
Spider mites often love a hydroponic setup because the temperature tends to be perfect for infestation.
Unfortunately, many gardeners notice leaf stippling in hydroponic setups, thinking it’s a nutrient deficiency when it’s actually spider mites.
What Is The Spiderweb-Like Mold On My Plants?
So, if you see something that looks like dust or mold on your plant’s leaves, it’s a good chance that it’s a spider mite infestation.
If you live in a drought-stricken area of the United States, or if you haven’t watered your plants enough, there is a higher chance of infestation. However, any plant can be infested, regardless of watering.
If you see what appears like dust, cobwebs, or mold on your plant, particularly on the underside of the leaves, it’s crucial to inspect your plant thoroughly.
If you catch the spider mites at the beginning of their journey, it’s possible to stop any significant damage.
First, you can use cotton balls with rubbing alcohol to wipe the leaves and stems of your affected plant.
Let the alcohol sit for a few hours, and then wipe your plant with a cotton ball and water.
If rubbing alcohol doesn’t work, try using Neem Oil to stop the infestation. You can use a microfiber cloth or a spray bottle to apply Neem Oil.
Insecticidal soap is a more potent option for severe infestations that don’t respond to Neem Oil or rubbing alcohol.
To prevent future infestations, you can check your plant regularly and wipe its leaves even if you don’t see any noticeable dust.
If you want to plant some items in your garden that will repel spider mites, chrysanthemums, dill, lemongrass, and rosemary are fantastic choices.