How To Identify And Control A Spider Mite Infestation

Spider mites are a detriment to fruit trees, food crops, and many kinds of houseplants.

October 27, 2017
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spider mites
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Spider mites are the ninjas of the pest world. They're nearly invisible, and you won't know they are there until they've done a LOT of damage.

Here's how to identify a spider mite infestation, and the steps you can take to control it:

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Identifying Spider Mites

Adults: minute, eight-legged, 1/50-inch mites with fine hairs on body; reddish, pale green or yellow; most, but not all, species spin fine webs. Nymphs: similar to adults, but smaller; early stages with six legs. Found throughout North America. Cyclamen mites are similar pests.

Related: How To Grow 10 Of The Easiest Herbs Indoors On Your Windowsill

The Damage They Cause

Adults and nymphs suck juice from cells on undersides of leaves of many food crops, ornamentals, and fruit trees. Plants are weakened, leaves may drop, and fruit may be stunted. Early damage to leaves appears as yellow-specked areas, with or without webbing, or leaves turn yellow or white with brown edges; webs may cover leaves and growing tips.

Spider Mites' Life Cycle

Eggs or adults overwinter in bark crevices or garden debris, emerging in early spring. Eggs hatch in 2 to 3 days, nymphs develop to adults in 7 to 10 days. Many overlapping generations every season; reproduction continues all year in greenhouses.

Related: 10 Most Destructive Garden Insects And How To Get Rid Of Them

How To Control Them

Spray fruit trees in late winter or early spring before or just as buds swell with horticultural oil (dormant-season dilution) to kill overwintering eggs; in garden or greenhouse rinse plants with water and mist daily to suppress reproduction of mites; release predatory mites Metaseiulus occidentalis on fruit trees, Phytoseiulus persimilis or similar species in large-scale plantings of vegetables, strawberries, and flowers; as a last resort, spray insecticidal soap or neem.

 

Related: 7 Easy Recipes For Deterring Garden Pests And Diseases