How to Kill Spider Mites on House Plants

Overview

Houseplants add beauty and interest to the home, but they can be infested by pests. Spider mites are one of the most serious pests. They cause damage, defoliation and plant death. Spider mites are not true insects but related to spiders and ticks. Spider mites and eggs are extremely tiny so they are hard to detect with the naked eye. They are oval shaped and yellowish or greenish in color. Their eggs are amber-colored and they reproduce rapidly.

Step 1

Place a white sheet of paper under discolored leaves of your houseplant. Tap the leaves and watch for moving dots on the paper. This is a common way to check for spider mites.

Step 2

Isolate the infected plant away from your other houseplants. This minimizes the risk of infecting your other houseplants.

Step 3

Mix together 1/2 tsp. of liquid dish detergent with 1 qt. of lukewarm water. Dip a soft cotton cloth in this liquid. Wipe the spider mites and eggs off the leaves. If your houseplant is heavily infested, then spray it with a hard stream of water.

Step 4

Thin mineral oil with a little water and place it in a spray bottle. Spray oil on the plants including under the leaves. Apply this oil once every 7 to 10 days until all traces of spider mites are gone. Neem oil and plant oil extracts can also be used.

Step 5

Leave your houseplant in the shade until the oil had dried off of the leaves. Spider mites have short life cycles, so more then one generation may be on your houseplant. It will take a couple of repeated applications to kill all the spider mites on your houseplant.

Tips and Warnings

  • Spider mites thrive in dry, warm conditions. They make their way into your house during the summer or on holiday greenery during the holiday season. Spider mites travel from plant to plant by creating a web. Always wash your hands and tools after working with any plants infected with spider mites. They can spread accidentally by hitchhiking on your hands, clothing and tools.

Things You'll Need

  • White paper
  • Liquid dish detergent
  • Water
  • Cotton cloth
  • Mineral oil
  • Spray bottle

References

  • University of Minnesota Extension: Houseplant Insect Control
  • University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program: Pests in Gardens and Landscapes
  • South Dakota State University: Mites on Cultivated Orchids
Keywords: spider mites, kill pests, houseplant pests

About this Author

Karen Carter has spent the last three years working as a technology specialist in the public school system. This position included hardware/software installation, customer support, and writing training manuals. She also spent four years as a newspaper editor/reporter at the Willapa Harbor Herald.