Spider mites are tiny predators capable of causing severe damage to your indoor and outdoor plants. The first indication of spider mites is usually white spots on the surface of the leaves, followed by webs that will encase the entire plant if left untreated. If you're using non-organic pesticides, keep in mind that they kill the insects that prey on spider mites. Organic methods are available to combat spider mites if they appear on your plants.
Spider mites thrive in dry, dusty conditions. Keep houseplants and outdoor plants properly irrigated to prevent the mites from nesting. Regular feeding and mulching will keep your plants healthy and less vulnerable.
Common weeds, such as plantain, marshmallow and black nightshade are favorite homes for spider mites. Keep these weeds out of the garden to help prevent mites from spreading.
Washing away the mites' webs will interrupt their natural life cycle and prevent them from multiplying. Use a strong blast of water to wash spider mites and their webs off outdoor plants. Do this in the morning for three days in a row. Put infested houseplants in the shower with you daily and give them a strong rinse until there is no more evidence of mites.
You can use a hand-held vacuum to remove the mites and webs from your plants. After gently vacuuming the plants, place the contents of the canister in a plastic bag and put the bag in the freezer for several hours to kill the mites.
Prune affected plants by removing leaves and stems that show evidence of spider mite damage. Keeping the plant as strong and healthy as possible will reduce the number of pests.
Encourage the establishment of mites that prey on spider mites such as Phytoseiulus persimilis and Typhlodromus occidentalis. You can buy these helpful predators, along with hoverflies and green and brown lacewings--beneficial insects that eat spider mites.
You can lure beneficial insects into your yard by adding a fresh covering of organic mulch to the garden. These helpers typically thrive in the top layers of composted manure and humus.