Spider mites are tiny, eight-legged pests that can cause severe damage to plants and flowers. A common problem on both evergreen and deciduous plant varieties, spider mite populations can grow exponentially over a very short period of time. While it can be difficult to eliminate a severe infestation, several steps can help kill and reduce spider mite populations before serious harm has come to the plant.
Attempt to eliminate spider mites immediately. Pest populations can grow rapidly and, if left untreated, cause serious damage (and even death) to landscaping and gardens. Walk plants frequently to check for pest infestation and determine severity of each isolated occurrence.
Survey the spider mite damage on the plant. While spider mites are small and can be difficult to see, checking plants frequently can help determine the severity of the problem. An infected plant will often droop, appear stressed or drop its leaves. Additionally, the leaves may have yellow, bronze or reddish-colored flecks. Spider mite damage can appear on both sides of the leaves. Look for silken webs across the leaves, stems or flowers of the plant.
Trim infected plants and remove damaged leaves. Bag and discard all infected leaves, stems, shoots and plants. Reexamine plants and the severity of the spider mite problem frequently. Isolate the infected plant (if possible).
Hose down plants with water of moderate pressure. Forceful water has many benefits to eliminating spider mite populations. It physically removes the pests, breaks down webs, postpones egg-laying and increases the strength of the plant.
Eliminate mild spider mite populations in a natural way. According to Colorado State University, introducing predatory insects into gardens can help eliminate spider mite populations. Consider bringing dark-hued lady beetles or minute pirate bugs into your landscaping to feed on spider mites and control populations naturally.
Kill severe spider mite populations with chemicals. Several pesticide sprays, insecticide soaps, sulfur and horticultural oils are available to consumers; Choose a product that kills both live mites and eggs. Often these pesticides are called "miticides" or "acaricides." Read the entire label, follow directions exactly and spray plant in a thorough manner. While some chemicals can be successful in killing spider mites on plants, it can still be difficult to entirely remove an infestation. More than one pesticide application may be necessary. However, be careful of using chemicals too frequently, as insecticides can kill bugs that feed on spider mites and keep populations at a minimum.
Things You Will Need
- Garbage bags
- Water spray attachment
- Lady beetles/pirate bugs
- Pesticide sprays/soaps
- Walk landscaping frequently to check for signs of spider mites. Once infestations have become severe, they become more difficult to control.
- Frequently spritz houseplants with water. Increased moisture and humidity helps keep spider mites at bay.
- Do not spray pesticides on trees that bear edible fruit.
- Always follow the pesticide instructions for use.
- Plants with severe spider mite infestations may be impossible to save.
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