Last Updated on October 24, 2022
If you’ve noticed spider mites on your plants, you’ll have to take action. Although these pests are minuscule in size, they can be a big nuisance, especially when you’re dealing with spider mite infestations.
Spider mites damage the leaves of plants and destroy plant tissue, and since they love hot, dry conditions, they’re especially attracted to indoor plants.
You can eliminate spider mites by ensuring your plant is taken good care of, as a stressed plant is more attractive to these pests. You should also avoid putting your plants in very hot or dry conditions.
In this article, I’ll explore what spider mites are, why they attack your plants, and how you can eliminate and prevent them.
Table of Contents
What are Spider Mites?
Spider mites are arachnids that are brown, yellow, green, or red in color, with four pairs of legs and an oval body. They’re less than 1/50 inch when they reach their adult size, so you won’t be able to see them properly without the use of a magnifying glass.
Many types of these mites can produce a fine web. It’s this web that you might see around your plants, which indicates that they’re being attacked by spider mites.
When spider mites attack plants, they can cause their leaves to take on a yellow or bronze appearance, or to display tiny yellow or white spots. The leaves might also feel gritty, which is a result of the spider mites’ fecal matter and webbing that they leave behind on the leaves.
Why Do Spider Mites Attack Your Plants?
Spider mites attack your plants because they want to draw the sap from their cells. This is why they are a common pest for a variety of plants, including ornamental and vegetable plants. But, there are some common factors that attract spider mites. These include the following:
- Hot, dry weather. Spider mites thrive in areas where temperatures are around 80°F (27°C) and areas where there is low humidity, ideally less than 50%. It makes sense that, based on this, spider mites would be attracted to plants that are in very hot, sunny areas.
- Drought-stressed plants. These are easily harmed by spider mites because they’re already fragile.
- Broad-spectrum pesticides. Although you might treat other pests with broad-spectrum pesticides that contain chemicals, these can result in mite flare, which is a term that refers to large mite populations. It makes sense because you’re removing the pests that would keep mite numbers in check.
- Too much nitrogen. If you’re feeding your plants too much nitrogen, which you might’ve done to encourage them to grow, this can cause proteins that make plant sap sweeter, which attracts spider mites.
How to Get Rid of Spider Mites
Eliminating spider mites is actually quite easy. Here are some methods you can apply:
- Move your plants to a cooler area of the home. Keep the curtains closed during the hottest times of day and if your plants are in direct, harsh sunlight.
- When watering your plants, keep the soil moist instead of soggy.
- Give your plants more humidity. Since spider mites are attracted to hot, dry conditions, by increasing the humidity you can keep them away. An idea is to group your plants together so that when one plant loses moisture through pores on their leaves, this will benefit the other plants. You can do this in various creative ways, such as by planting them on a balcony.
- Water your plants when the top half-inch (1.27cm) of soil has become dry.
- Wipe down plant leaves with a damp cloth to keep mites at bay.
- Spray the mites with a blast of water. This works well, especially when directed underneath the leaves, which is where mites are usually found.
- Apply neem oil to plants. This is a natural insecticide that keeps a variety of pests away from your plants, including spider mites. Neem oil has a compound called azadirachtin that interferes with insect and mite processes, such as the laying of eggs and feeding. The use of natural pesticides is more eco-friendly so you don’t use chemicals in your plants.
Can You Prevent Spider Mites?
Once you’ve eliminated spider mites, you’ll want to ensure they don’t come back. You can take steps to prevent them in the future. These include the following:
- Check plants before bringing them home. When you purchase plants at the nursery, make sure you check them for spider mites before you bring them home. This will prevent the mites from causing an infestation and affecting your healthy plants.
- Remove spider mites from plants with a strong stream of water. This will help to prevent them from being able to gain a foothold on your plants.
- Wipe dust from your plant’s leaves. This will prevent spider mites from being able to lay eggs on the dusty, dry leaves.
- Keep houseplants healthy. Since mites feed on plants that are stressed, it’s essential to look after your plants and give them what they require to thrive, such as the correct amount of sunlight and water for their plant species.
- Consider planting spider mite-resistant plants. Although spider mites can attack any plant, ones that have thicker leaves are less likely to experience a lot of harm from spider mites, such as the ZZ plant and jade plant. Another example is the Snake Plant, which doesn’t have leaves with an underside, so dust can’t accumulate on the leaves. This is quite unappealing to spider mites.
Although they’re tiny, spider mites can destroy your plants. Therefore, it’s wise to eliminate them as soon as possible and apply ways to prevent them from infesting your plants again.
Maintaining the health of your houseplants so they don’t become stressed, not feeding them too much nitrogen, and regularly wiping down their leaves are just some of the ways to do it.
We hope this article helped you. Happy gardening!