If the spider mite infestation is large enough, the plants will begin dropping leaves, losing productivity, and could even die.
Here are four control methods that don’t require any chemical pesticides. The first two, which are biological controls, can only be used outside so be aware of that.
The second main type is Phyoseiulus longpipes which isn’t as bulbous and fat. Third is the Metaseiulus occidentalis which has an elongated body and is so pale it is nearly invisible.
Fruit trees can become one of those infected plants, along with 200 different types of plants and trees. If spider mite populations grow large enough, they can infect the entire plant or tree. You need to control spider mites as soon as you spot them.
In either case, be sure to wash off their webbing. Unlike most spiders, their webs aren’t for catching prey but for protecting themselves. Since spider mites prefer a hot dry environment, washing your plants with water acts as a repellent.
This quick turn-around leads to explosive population growth once they establish a foothold, so as soon as you determine that you have spider mites, you need to immediately begin working on a plan to eliminate them.
They’re basically cannibals because they’re closely related to spider mites. They kill and eat dozens of them every day. Once they eat all the spider mites they turn each other, becoming true cannibals, and eat each other until they’re all gone.
Six-spotted thrips are also known to occasionally eat spider mites but they also attack plants. They don’t cause as much damage to the plant cells and leaves as spider mites, but still, this is not an ideal solution.
As the soap dries, it creates a barrier that suffocates the spider mites. In a few hours, they’ll all be dead. Rinse the plants to remove the soap film and wash away the dead bodies.
Spider mites can wreak havoc on your garden, so you will want to act quickly. Click here to learn everything you need to know!
Note: Spider mites are wind surfers. They disperse over wide areas riding their webbing on the breezes. Careful containment and disposal of infested plants is crucial.
After mating, females continuously produce as many as 300 eggs over a couple of weeks. Hot, dry weather favors rapid development of these pests. During such conditions the time it takes to pass from egg to adult may occur in as little as 5 days. There are several overlapping generations per year.
Mites live in colonies, mostly on the underside of leaves, and feed by piercing leaf tissue and sucking up the plant fluids. Feeding marks show up as light dots on the leaves. As feeding continues, the leaves turn yellow and may dry up and drop off.
Many species of the spider mite (family: Tetranychidae), so common in North America, attack both indoor and outdoor plants. They can be especially destructive in greenhouses.
Chemical pesticide use actually encourages the spread of spider mites by killing the beneficial insects that prey on them. Mites are also known to develop quick resistance to various pesticides. For these reasons, it’s important to control mites with effective natural and organic methods.
Spider mites are not true insects, but are classed as a type of arachnid, relatives of spiders, ticks and scorpions. Adults are reddish brown or pale in color, oval-shaped and very small (1/50 inch long) – about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. Immature stages resemble the adults except only smaller.
Most mite species overwinter as eggs on the leaves and bark of host plants. In early spring, as temperatures warm, tiny six-legged larvae begin hatching and feed for a few days before seeking shelter where they molt into the first nymphal stage. Nymphs have eight-legs and pass through two more molts before becoming mature adults.
Spider mites are most common in hot, dry conditions, especially where their natural enemies have been killed off by insecticide use. Some of the many species common in North America are predators of the plant-feeding mites, which make up the vast majority. They are also very prolific, which is why heavy infestations often build up unnoticed before plants begin to show damage.
The University of California Agricultural and Natural Resources division’s Integrated Pest Management website says the following about the damage mites cause:
Found on the undersides of leaves, these tiny plant pests can wreak-havoc on indoor and outdoor gardens. Learn methods for organic spider mite control here.