Spider mites are small, sap-sucking insects that cause considerable damage to plants.
Mites can be challenging to detect but there are some warning signs. Read on to learn the early signs of spider mite damage and what you can do.
The first sign of a spider mite infestation is often the presence of webbing on the plant.
The webs may be visible to the naked eye or small and difficult to see. You may also notice that the leaves of your plant are starting to turn yellow or brown.
If you suspect that you have a spider mite problem, take a close look at the leaves and see if you can spot any of the following signs:
- Small dots on the leaves
- Discolored patches on the leaves
- Mites crawling on the leaves
If you see any of these signs, it’s time to take action. Of course, pesticides are the best way to control spider mites, but you can also try using natural methods such as soap spray or horticultural oil.
In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about spider mites, including how to identify them and control them.
What Are Spider Mites?
Spider mites are small arthropods that feed on the sap of plants. They are closely related to spiders and ticks and are usually barely visible to the naked eye.
There are many species of spider mites, but the two-spotted spider mite is the most common in North America.
Spider mites are often found in hot, dry conditions and can quickly become a problem in greenhouses or during drought conditions.
They reproduce rapidly and can build up to high numbers very quickly.
A single female spider mite can lay up to 20 eggs per day, and a mature mite can live for up to two months.
Spider mites are often spread by wind or hitchhiking on animals or people. They can also be transported in infested plants.
Once they find a suitable host plant, they will start to feed.
What Do Spider Mites Look Like?
As we mentioned, spider mites are small and difficult to see. They are usually between 1/20 and 1/10 of an inch long and vary in color depending on the species.
For example, the two-spotted spider mite is yellow or green with two dark spots on its body.
If you suspect you have spider mites, the best way to confirm is to take a close look at the plant with a magnifying glass.
You should be able to see the mites crawling around on the leaves. You may also see small webs, which are produced by the mites.
What Do Spider Mites Eat?
Spider mites feed on the sap of plants. They use their sharp mouthparts to puncture the plant cells and suck out the contents.
This feeding can damage the plant, causing discoloration, stippling, or premature leaf drop.
How To Control Spider Mites
If you have spider mites, the first step is to quarantine the infested plant from your other plants. This will help prevent the spider mites from spreading.
Next, you’ll need to take steps to control the spider mites. The best way to do this is with pesticides, but you can also try using natural methods such as soap spray or horticultural oil.
Many pesticides will kill spider mites, but you’ll need to choose one specifically labeled for use against spider mites.
Be sure to follow the instructions on the pesticide label carefully.
You can spray the plant with water and dish soap if you prefer a natural method. This will kill the spider mites but may also damage the plant.
Another option is to use horticultural oil, which will smother the spider mites.
If you choose to use horticultural oil, read the label carefully. Some oils can damage plants, so choosing one labeled safe for use on the plant you’re treating is important.
Once you’ve treated the plant, monitor it closely for any signs of a new infestation.
Spider mites can quickly become a problem, so you must be vigilant in your control efforts.
You may need to contact a professional pest control company if you have a severe infestation.
Preventing Spider Mites
The best way to prevent spider mites is to keep your plants healthy. Healthy plants are better able to withstand attacks from pests.
Spider mites thrive in hot, dry conditions, so water your plants regularly.
If you live in an area prone to drought, consider using a dripper system or mulch to help keep the soil moist.
In addition, try to avoid over-fertilizing your plants. Spider mites are attracted to nitrogen-rich plants.
If you do fertilize, be sure to use a slow-release fertilizer and follow the instructions on the label.
Finally, it’s important to inspect your plants regularly for signs of spider mite damage.
If you see any, take action immediately to control the infestation.
Signs Of Spider Mite Damage
The first sign of spider mite damage is usually discoloration or stippling on the leaves. The leaves may also start to curl, crinkle, or turn yellow.
If the infestation is severe, the leaves may drop off.
If you suspect you have spider mites, look closely at the plant with a magnifying glass.
You should be able to see the tiny mites crawling around on the leaves. You may also see small webs, which are produced by the mites.
If you see any of these signs, it’s important to take action immediately to control the infestation.
Otherwise, the damage will only worsen, and the plant may eventually die.
Overall, spider mites can be a major problem for gardeners. If you suspect you have spider mites, taking action immediately to control the infestation is essential.
The best way to prevent spider mites is to keep your plants healthy. Scout your plants on a regular basis for any early signs of spider mites. Water regularly and avoid over-fertilizing, which can attract spider mites.