You want to keep your plants happy and thriving and pest free but even with best efforts sometimes you might still get uninvited guests on your plant – spider mites. These can wreak havoc on your plants so spotting them soon and knowing how to get rid of spider mite is a must.
What is a spider mite?
Spider mites are tiny bugs that are not true insects. They are classed as a type of arachnid, which makes them relatives of spiders, ticks and scorpions. A lovely bunch of critters.
They mostly live on the underside of the leaves of plants. They attack both outdoor and indoor plants.
Spider mites are very destructive and can do a lot of damage to your plants in very little time.
What do spider mites look like? Identifying spider mite
They look like tiny spiders. They are less than 0.04 in / 1 mm in size and vary in color (white, red, tan, black…).
Many species spin silk webbing (small spiderwebs) and this might be the first sign of trouble you will notice on your plant.
If you spot webbing or any other sign of trouble (damaged leaves), carefully inspect the bottom side of the leaves. It might take a while for you to spot the tiny specks on the leaves moving, and using a magnifying glass can prove helpful here, but once you do, you can be certain those are spider mites.
How to get rid of spider mites on Indoor Plants?
Now you know your plant has them so how do you get rid of spider mites?
Spider mites infestation can spread quickly so the first thing to do is isolate the affected plant, as well as surrounding plants to prevent further spread. Carefully inspect plants close by.
Tip: if you aren’t doing this already, whenever you add a new plant baby to your family, quarantine it when you bring it home for a couple of weeks to prevent potential spread of mites as well as other issues.
Wash them off
You might not get rid of all of them but you will get rid of a lot of them by washing them off the plant. It’s a good first step in treating this problem, especially with larger infestations, as spider mites are good at adapting to whatever chemical means you want to use to get rid of them – so making their population smaller before proceeding is a wise step.
Carefully wash the plant with water, rinsing off spider mites.
Mix a small amount of liquid dish soap with water – 2 tablespoons per gallon (1 tablespon per liter) – and pour it into a spray bottle. Test the solution on your plant, spray a small area of the plant (leaf) and leave the plant alone for a day or two and observe that leaf for any potential damage. If there is no damage on the leaf, you can proceed with the treatment, however if you notice the leaf didn’t do well with the solution, mix the solution again with a smaller liquid soap concentration.
Assuming your plant likes the liquid dish soap solution, you can continue with your spider mites destroying procedure. Spray the solution on your plant, paying extra attention to the underside of the leaves. Make sure the whole plant is treated.
After a couple of hours, rinse the plant.
At this point you can assume you have successfully removed most if not all adult spider mite population. But these buggers are sneaky and the eggs are probably not destroyed so you will need to repeat the procedure, without washing the plant beforehand, a few times more.
Repeat every once a week for a couple of weeks and you should be pest free.
Using Neem Oil
Neem oil is very effective as pest prevention. If you have a large infestation however it might not be effective enough.
Not the most natural way of getting rid of spider mites but effective. There are many varieties available in the market, we suggest consulting in store to find the best for your houseplants.
How to get rid of spider mite on outdoor plants?
Outdoor plants are an easy target for a spider mite and you can try all of the solutions, when applicable, that you would with indoorplants.
However there is an effective way that will help you with getting rid of spider mites that can’t really be applied indoors. Other bugs.
Introduce natural enemies
Keep the spider mite population under control by adding more predators to the environment. Luckily the most popular predator is a pretty one – the ladybug. Another great predator is green lacewing.
You can buy these bugs, however we advise against it. If you are dead set on buying them, make sure you buy a species that is trully native to the environment you will be releasing them and comes from a reputable source.
What you can do is set up an environment that will be inviting to these bugs and will increase their population in your area naturally.
How to Prevent Spider Mite
Now that you know how to get rid of spider mite, it’s even better to know how to prevent it.
- quarantine every new plant you bring in your home
- quarantine yourself :). If you visit places with a lot of plants you might bring home a spider mite (or any other pest). Make sure you change your clothes and take a shower if you visited a high risk area.
- inspect your plants often
- set up conditions that spider mites don’t like (and your plant likes) – mites thrive in dry and warm environment