Early Signs Of Spider Mites To Get Rid of Them Quickly
Spider mites are so tiny that often, we need a magnifying lens to see them. However, the damage they cause is very obvious.
For that reason, you need to detect a spider mite infestation early enough to prevent irrevocable damage to your garden.
So, in this article, we’ve compiled the earliest signs and the easiest ways to detect those signs of a spider mite infestation.
What Are Spider Mites?
While their names might tell you otherwise, spider mites are actually not a hybrid of spiders and mites. Instead, they are simply mites.
In the biology world, mites and spiders are both arachnids. This means that spider mites are no insects. Although, like most insects, they are quite tiny.
Then again, spider mites can make webbings. So, now you get why many people think they are a blend between spiders and mites?
In most cases, these silk webs serve a protective function. But when they feed, the webbings from spider mites damage the affected plant.
Yes, plants; spider mites feed mainly on plant cell sap and tissues. We often find them near the abaxial (underside) of leaves. Then again, they like to live in hot, dry, and dusty weather.
Can You See Spider Mites? If Yes, What Do Spider Mites Look Like?
Spider mites are quite tiny; about 1mm max. So, with ordinary eyes, spider mites appear like tiny mobile dots with webbings.
To see spider mites more clearly, you need a magnifying lens. With it, you will notice the eight legs, oval-shaped body, and hair-like bristles.
Likewise, you will also see their webs. These webs serve as protection against predators and any attack against their colony.
These webs help to differentiate spider mites from other mites and plant-eating insects like aphids and thrips.
Once you see the webs and tiny bite holes on any plant, then there’s a high chance that it is infested by spider mites.
- READ MORE: Does bleach kill spiders?
Where Do Spider Mites Come From?
Spider mites are cosmopolitan creatures. That means we cannot ascribe their origin to a particular region. This is because we can find them almost throughout the entire world.
But for most parts, spider mites find their way to any plant. Often, several species of plants like tomatoes, potatoes, beans, cannabis, strawberries, and corn do fall victim.
What Attracts Spider Mites?
Food; that’s the simple answer. Spider mites are attracted to any plant. In fact, in today’s world, spider mites can feed on hundreds of plant species out there.
However, the weather can also help them to pre-select their host plants. For instance, a plant that lives under hot, dry, and dusty conditions attracts spider mites more than under humid conditions.
Then again, spider mites prefer soil rich in nitrogen and phosphorus. For that reason, the spider mite population doubles up in these regions.
How Does a Spider Mite Infestation Start? And How Does It Spread?
Spider mite infestation flows with the life cycle of a spider mite. And everything starts out as small, whitish, and sticky eggs on a single host plant.
When the conditions are right, the mite eggs hatch into baby spider mites, aka larvae. For several days to weeks, these larvae would continue to eat the leaves and suck the cell sap of the plant.
After a while, the larvae would transform into young adults. These young adults would feed for a few more days before finally molting into an adult spider mite.
Now, the thing is, one adult spider mite can lay over 100 eggs in one breeding season. It is these eggs that grow up into the adults that launch a full-scale mite infestation.
After destroying one plant, these adult mites hop on to another. If there are no natural predators like lacewings, pirate bugs, thrips, and others in your yard or garden, the process even becomes faster.
link to How to Get Rid Of Brown House Spider
- READ MORE: How to Get Rid Of Brown House Spider.
What Are the Early and First Signs of Spider Mites?
1) Discoloration of Abaxial Leaf Surfaces.
The abaxial surface of a leaf refers to the leaf underside. This leaf region is where spider mites tend to first colonize. Because behaviorally, spider mites hide from sunlight.
At the first arrival of spider mite, the leaf underside will turn either silvery, brownish, or yellowish. Sometimes, this may even be accompanied by tiny holes in the stipplings.
These holes appear because spider mites suck by boring. After drinking the cell sap, the lack of certain nutrients results in discoloration.
2) Yellowing of the Leaves.
As time passes by, the infested leaf becomes more yellowish. This is because more cell sap is continuously being drained.
3) Clustered But Cryptic Webbings on Leaves and Stems.
Like spiders, spider mites also spin webs. To sense an infestation, you can also look out for webbings.
Often, these webbings can be seen at the corners of the stem. But to see them, you need to use a magnifying glass.
4) Live Spider Mites on Plants.
To check for spider mites, turn over the leaf and dust its underside onto a piece of paper. Then, use a magnifying lens to check.
If you see reddish, orange, or green tiny creatures, then it’s confirmed, that you have a spider mite situation in your garden.
- READ MORE: How Long Do Spiders Live?
What Kills Spider Mites Instantly?
- Horticultural Oil.
To use horticultural oils, apply them to both surfaces of the leaves. Within days, the spider mites should all be dead.
However, note that horticultural oils at certain levels may be dangerous to certain plants. So, avoid using these oils on sensitive plants.
To know which plant is sensitive and which is not, try to do a small patch test. To do this, add a small drop of the oil to a small area of the healthy leaf.
Leave it for a day or two. If you see any weird changes, just look for other alternatives.
- Diatomaceous earth.
Diatomaceous earth kills pests by dehydrating them and disrupting their life cycles.
To use it to kill spider mites, sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth on affected plants and nearby soil.
- Hot Pepper Extract.
All species of hot pepper, specifically bell peppers, chile, and cayenne peppers, can kill spider mites. This statement was verified by a 2006 research that’s documented by researchgate.
According to that same research, hot pepper is a potent spider mite killer because it contains methanolic compounds.
So, to use it, dilute the pepper extract with hot water and a few drops of dish soap. Bottle the mixture up and spray as needed.
- Essential Oils.
The following essential oils can help to kill spider mites:
- Myrtle oil
- Rosemary Oil
To use any of them, mix them with water at about 1:4. Bottle the mixture in a spray can and apply as needed.
- Rubbing Alcohol.
Like essential oils, rubbing alcohol can kill spider mites quite well. To do this, dip a cotton ball or cotton swab in alcohol.
Afterward, wipe the two surfaces of the affected leaf with the cotton swab. Then, come back after a few hours to check for results.
- Dishwashing Soaps.
Dish soaps are another household products that can kill spider mites. To use them, mix about 4 spoons of dish soaps with a large amount of water.
Bottle the mixture inside a spray can. Then, spray on affected plants on a weekly basis.
What is the Fastest Way to Get Rid of Spider Mites?
To get rid of spider mites quick, consider using the following steps in tandem:
- Exterminate or cut off all heavily infested leaves.
- Make a mixture of water and alcohol. Bottle this in a spray can.
- Spray this alcohol solution on both the upper and lower sides of the leaves.
- Make another bottled solution of any essential oil of your choice. Spray the mixture on affected and healthy plants. This will help prevent future infestation.
- READ MORE: How to Get Rid of Spiders in Your Car.
FAQs About Early Signs of Spider Mites.
- Can a Plant Recover from Spider Mites?
Yes, a plant can recover from damage caused by spider mites. In fact, if the damage happens only to one or two leaves, the plants can attain self-recovery.
But if the level of damage is quite high you need to take extra care of the plant. Particularly, make sure that the plant is exposed to adequate sunlight.
- Can Spider Mites Infest a House?
With the right conditions, yes; spider mites can survive indoors. In most cases, we find them around hydroponics that uses soil.
But often, spider mites get in when an outdoor plant gets potted. Likewise, spider mites from outdoor plants can crawl in through the window onto a new plant that’s indoors.
- Do Spider Mites Live in the Soil?
Yes; sometimes, spider mites live within the soil. This happens mostly during winter when feeding is reduced.
As such spider mites build their resting regions inside the soil during cool weather. However, in warmer climates, they feed actively and all year round on host plants.
So far, we’ve clarified that spider mites cause severe economic damage to plants. To prevent that, we need to detect an infestation very early.
Some of those early signs of spider mite infestation include discoloration of abaxial leaf surfaces and yellowing of leaf stipplings. After that, if you notice any web near the leaf corners, then it’s most likely that you have a spider situation.