Spider mites are a nightmare for indoor and outdoor gardeners as they are difficult to see with the naked eye.
They can feed on anything in your garden, including flowers, vegetables, trees or shrubs, potted plants, etc.
These buggers are also a major hassle for houseplant enthusiasts.
If you are dealing with a spider mites infection, this article is a must-read.
It has several control methods and prevention tips to help you and your plants to stay safe from spider mites.
What Kills Spider Mites?
Spider mites can be killed using natural home remedies, pesticides, and biological control methods. Ladybugs or lacewings are the most common predators used on outdoor plants. For small infections, neem oil, insecticidal soaps, or rubbing alcohol can kill spider mites. You can apply Diatomaceous Earth or miticides to control a large population.
Identifying Spider Mites
Spider mites are oval-shaped pests that are closely related to ticks and spiders. They are only 1/50 inch or 4mm in size.
They love feeding on indoor ornamental plants and outdoor trees and fruits like strawberries, melons, etc.
They feed on the chlorophyll content in the plant cells and usually hide on the undersides of the leaves.
Spider mites live in colonies, so if your plant is infected, there could be several mites in different plant areas.
The mites go through 5 growth stages. The female mites start laying eggs when they are five days old.
And these female mites can start their own colonies without fertilized mite eggs.
The eggs will take approximately 72 hours to hatch. Spider mites can last for 3-4 weeks. However, they multiply fast, which makes it important to treat them as soon as possible.
Spider mites thrive in the dry and warm environments of summer. They can easily travel from one plant to another in such conditions.
But be wary, the indoor climate created by central heating in winter also supports spider mites’ growth.
The eggs can survive through winter, hatch in the coming seasons of spring/summer, and start feeding.
The common symptoms of a spider mites infection are leaf drop, white webs, and yellow/white specks on the leaves. But the infected leaves can also have curled or burned leaf margins.
Spider mite feeding disturbs the water retention system, and the plant loses its ability to photosynthesize.
Controlling Spider Mites
I have created a detailed list of control strategies for spider mites. You can use one or a combination of methods to control mites on your indoor and outdoor plants.
The frequency of the treatment will vary depending on the population of mites and the treatment methods. It can take weeks or months.
Biological control using predators like ladybugs, lacewings, minute pirate bugs is a great method to get rid of spider mites in outdoor gardens.
You should avoid harmful pesticides to help these predators stay in your garden. In addition to that, mulch the garden bed and water your plants regularly.
You can buy predatory insects from a garden store and release them in your garden or pots.
They can feed on hundreds of mites per day. And the good news is they do not pose any threats to your plants or vegetables.
But always make sure the predators you introduce are suitable for the season.
Rosemary, coriander, spearmint, and chamomile oils are the best natural remedy for a spider mite infection.
All you have to do is fill a spray bottle with water and add few drops of any of the essential oils. Now spray this mixture on the infected leaves.
Mix neem oil with an organic wetting agent to create an organic mixture.
Applying this mixture every 3 or 5 days will disrupt the reproductive cycle of the mites and kills the mite eggs on indoor plants.
But it should be applied in the dark, and you should wait for at least 6 hours before moving the plant to light.
Spray the leaves, stems, and leaf joints to get rid of all the mites. Avoid applying this mixture in very high temperatures (more than 90 degrees Fahrenheit or 32 degrees Celsius).
For outdoor plants, you should apply horticulture oil in the growing seasons or late fall to kill the eggs of mites that might overwinter.
Strong streams of water using a garden hose can help you dislodge the spider mites from the foliage.
This is a temporary solution that only helps you reduce the population. Because you must treat the mites using other natural or chemical remedies to kill them.
This is the cheapest method to kill spider mites. All you need is dish soap and water.
Start by mixing three tablespoons of dish soap in 1 gallon of water. Fill a spray bottle with this mixture and spray the foliage on a weekly basis.
Repeat application until all the mites are gone.
Soak some cotton balls or clean fabric in rubbing alcohol and wipe all the infected parts. You should leave the alcohol on the leaves for a few hours as this will suffocate the mites.
Lastly, rinse the leaves with clean water.
Insecticidal soaps are great for controlling spider mites on indoor plants. They are not harmful like other chemical pesticides but strong enough to kill spider mites.
I would still recommend testing a small area of the plant for any reactions. You should carefully apply the soap on both sides of the leaves to eliminate all the mites.
This organic pesticide is made from the leftovers of aquatic organisms. This product is lethal for pests like spider mites, but it does not harm pets or humans, so it’s safe to use on indoor and outdoor plants.
You have to sprinkle it on the soil and foliage of your infected plants. Make sure you use the food-grade version. It will kill the mites by dehydrating them.
These are chemical agents designed specifically to kill spider mites. Read the label carefully and follow all the instructions by the manufacturer.
Carefully apply the miticide to all the hidden areas on the infected plants because this product works only on contact. Avoid using miticides on windy days because a large amount of the product is wasted.
The miticides labeled as caution are the least toxic varieties.
Preventing Spider Mites
Since these pesky pests are not easy to spot, the best solution is to prevent them from infecting your plants.
- Always purchase your plants, potting medium, and other gardening products from reliable sources or nurseries. Quarantine newly bought plants for at least 14 days to identify any infections.
- Avoid placing the new plants near open windows or doors since the mites in outdoor gardens can infect indoor plants.
- Regularly water and clean the leaves to avoid dust and dryness on your plant. Remember, water stress makes your plant vulnerable to pest infections.
- Avoid placing your plant near heat vents because spider mites usually thrive in warm and dry environments.
- Prune the infected leaves, stems, or flowers to avoid the spread. In case the plant is heavily infected, the only solution is to discard it from your garden.
- Spider mites grow rapidly in low humidity and high temperatures. Make sure you maintain the recommended temperature and humidity to help your plant stay healthy and safe from mite infections. Also, keep your plant away from direct sunlight.
Frequently Asked Questions About How to Kill Spider Mites
Is there any way to test my plants for a spider mites infestation?
Hold a paper plate or a sheet of white paper under your plant leaves and gently shake the plant. If you notice small moving specks falling on the paper, your plant is infected.
Can hot peppers kill spider mites?
Hot pepper repellents can kill about 45% of spider mites. You can buy premade pepper sprays or create a DIY pepper repellent.
Can I create a home-made miticide for spider mites?
I have discovered a simple recipe for a herbal tea miticide. You will need 1 tablespoon of ground cloves, ground cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons of Italian seasoning.
Mix them in a quarter gallon of boiled water and add 2 tablespoons of fresh garlic once the mixture is cool. Finally, strain and transfer the mixture to a spray bottle.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.