Female of the red form of the spider mite Tetranychus urticae.

Female of the red form of the spider mite Tetranychus urticae.

Spider mites are a pest commonly found in North America, living on the underside of a leaf to drink the plant fluid found inside.  They live in colonies, and these groupings may grow large enough to become a problem before a plant ever shows any signs of their presence.

If you ever spot the distinctive webbing caused by a spider mite, there are various methods to remove them and prevent a colony from growing large enough for concern.

Here are 8 simple ways to deal with an infestation of spider mites in your home or garden:

Method 1:  Release Ladybugs in your gardens

Since spider mites are extremely common, very small, and found in large colonies, there are no shortages to the amount of predators that feed on them. Some of these natural predators include insects that can be very beneficial in your garden, like ladybugs. These can be purchased from your local gardening store at an affordable cost and keep down many predators, including spider mites.

Method 2:  Pruning Back Damaged Leaves

By the time extensive damage can be found in a plant, mites have already moved in and created a large colony. To prevent further growth, prune any leaves, stems, or other areas where damage from mites may be found. This may include the entire plant in some cases.  Be sure to dispose of these clippings in the trash in a tied off bag kept far from other plants and garden areas, never in a compost pile.

Method 3:  Bug Blasting

A device known as a Bug Blaster can be used to wash down a plant with a stream of water strong enough to dislodge bugs from the stems and leaves. Be careful with how much you do this, however— too much water can stress out a plant and cause it to be susceptible to mites again.

Because this is a remedy that you can use over and over again for various kinds of pests, this is a simple and affordable option for home gardeners.

Method 4:  Employ Parasitic Mites

If natural predators aren’t dealing with your spider mite problem, then you can purchase predators of your own to release within your plants. Predatory mites can take care of the issue without harming your plants. By releasing these in conjunction with an already-lowered spider mite population, you can eliminate the problem almost entirely.

Method 5:  Apply Oils and Pesticides

If you have no other options, pesticides can still be used to deal with spider mites. Apply things like neem oil or insecticidal soap onto heavily infested areas for best results. Be precise; too much use of such materials can cause the mites to become resistant to their effects.

Method 6: Cautious Watering

Much like any living creature, plants are susceptible to overeating. Too much water can cause a plant to become saturated and weakened, allowing mites to move in and giving them a greater incentive to suck out the plant fluid they crave. By maintaining a proper watering level, you reduce the chance of developing a spider mite issue.

Method 7: Dusting or Mild Vacuuming

When dust accumulates on plants, particularly in trees and other plants with branches, mites are drawn to settle within the structures it creates.  Hosing down your plants to remove the buildup of dust, brushing off leaves regularly, or even using a mild vacuum along high dust areas can be effective as a preventative measure in keeping spider mites away. This simple practice goes a long way in controlling a population of spider mites that is already established.

Method 8: Apply Preventative Oil

By applying leaf shines and oils before spider mite eggs are laid, you can keep an infestation from moving in in the first place. This is best done when warm weather is not a factor; spider mites thrive and reproduce in warm, dry seasons. Apply these oils directly to the leaves and stems of a plant during the winter, and the eggs laid by spider mites over the winter will no longer be a problem when spring rolls around.

Spider mites can be an extensive and highly damaging pest to handle, but there are many methods to keep them in control and prevent damage to your plants. By introducing predators, removing the ideal conditions for spider mites to lay eggs, and being cautious in your treatment of outside chemicals and extra water to your plants, you can keep spider mites from becoming a major problem in your garden.



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