Spider Mites: Everything You Need To Know

Ed Wike
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Spider Mite Overview

Spider mite infestations are the number-one plague of gardeners and farmers. Spider mites are atmospheric creatures that form new colonies as conditions are favorable. Spider mites are most prevalent in the mid western region of the United States, but their presence should be kept in mind, especially in the spring and fall months The best way to identify a spider mite infestation is to look for tiny, spider-like creatures visible upon plants and in the garden.

These tiny creatures are in the arachnida family. They have two body parts, a round body that is divided by a dark line and eight legs that litter the body with a red outer surface.

Types of Spider Mites

Most spider mites are less than a 1/50 of an inch long. Even the larger species are usually less than 1/20 of an inch. They may have a green, red, or brown tint to their bodies and some have a silken collar to protect their necks.

They are arachnids and have four pairs of legs and two body parts. The body is divided into the cephalothorax and an abdomen. The largest or front body section clearly has the head and eyes. The smaller middle part of the mite’s body has no discernible head or eyes. The anus is located in a small bulge or proventorium above the legs. The legs are usually hairy and have two rows of bristles called trichobothria. On the underside of most mites are one or two pairs of curved hairs called a crotaline. The crotaline are covered by tegument, a single layer of outer covering.

Some have photoreceptors and can see rudimentary images and some have ears. Tiny hairs on the sensory hairs allow them to detect frequency. The relative position of the spider mites allows them to find prey and to help them steer in their environment.

Life Cycle of Spider Mites

Spider mites are a small pest that is a common problem for many home gardeners. We are going to take a look at the spider mite life cycle so you can learn how to identify these pests and how to get rid of the mites.

Spider mites are highly mobile pests. They only need two things to survive: a food source and a place to lay eggs.

Spider mites are commonly found on vegetables, fruit trees, herbs, and some flowers.

They feed by sucking the sap from your plants. This causes the leaves of your plants to turn yellow as they suck out the vital moisture. This is why you need to remove mites as soon as you see the leaves turning yellow.

There are two species of spider mites that cause the most problems for home gardeners. They are the two-spotted mite and the cyclamen mite. Vegetables most often affected by spider mites are peas, beans, cucumbers, melons, peppers, and squash.

You need to be able to identify spider mites before you start any spider mite treatment or they will just move on to another plant.

If you notice high numbers of plant-destroying insects in your greenhouse or garden, then you need to do something. These pests can spread to your fruits, vegetables, and many other plants. Here are some things you can do.

Common Habitats of Spider Mites

This pest is attracted to the drying leaves and flowers of many indoor plants, including spider-plant, dracaena, poinsettia, zamioculcas, and aloe plants. Spider mites are also fond of pumpkin and various gourds in the pumpkin family, like cucumber, which are grown as houseplants. You are most at risk for spider mites in the late summer and autumn and just after you buy a plant. They are just as likely to be present in spring and winter as in summer, though, if your houseplant is kept in a very sunny setting, the reverse of the natural outdoor light cycle.

A new plant bought neglected or abused, can be brought in through an infected pot, soil or plant material. Spider mites are especially difficult to eradicate when they first appear. They multiply quickly and, with the addition of water damage, can get out of control. The growing mites consume the parenchyma cells from the leaves and the plant will likely go completely yellow, then brown. Later, some older mites will crawl up the stem until the plant parts are too dry and infested with mites to support them any more. They then move to another plant and begin the cycle again.

What Do Spider Mites Eat?

Spider mites are members of the arachnid family and prey on crawly things, such as arthropods in the fields of agriculture and science. Have you ever found a large spider that sat still instead of running away? It could have been a spider mite.

Spider mites eat lots of different types of plants and are famous for their ability to devastate crops such as cotton, celery, peppers, and tomatoes. However, spider mites can also thrive on houseplants. If you think you have a spider mite infestation you may have found some of the following insects and pests on your plants—along with the bugs you normally see.

Spider mites are minuscule. They can’t be seen with the naked eye since they are 0.02 inches in length, which is about the same size as a piece of lint. They are flat-looking creatures with eight legs that are hard to spot on a plant since they tend to hide on the underside of leaves. Spider mites have the ability to reproduce very quickly and this happens when males fertilize eggs with life-giving sperm.

How To Get Rid Of Spider Mites

Spider mites are particularly problematic in greenhouses, where it can be hard to ensure a clean product. They’re found in all kinds of plants so you may not know you got them until the infestation gets large.

Spider mites are tiny and you can rarely see them on your cannabis plant. They are extremely mobile so the key to eliminating them is to get them while they are in their infant stage, before they have a chance to spread throughout your garden.

If you see your plant has white dots on the leaves, getting rid of spider mites is a must. Your leaves will start to yellow and fall off. If the problem is severe, it's possible for the plant to die. Contact your local nursery to tell the which of their products will eliminate spider mites safely.

There are 3 different methods for getting rid of spider mites :

  • By hand
  • By soil treated
  • By insecticide spray

By Hand : This option is time consuming but it will help you eliminate the problem entirely and it will keep more mites from spreading. Wear gloves and wash your hands immediately afterward. Water your plant every day for 10 minutes.

Apply insecticidal soap.

Treat an air-cooled mist. You can do this to kill the spider mites directly on your plant.

Treat your plant by rubbing a lot of peppermint oil into the leaves.

Organic Spider Mite Control

A simple organic way of controlling spider mites is to introduce predatory insects to the mite-infested area. Although sometimes you will need to get treatment for spider mites that are in the swarm stage, these predatory insects can rid your soil of spider mites, while leaving your plants intact.

Neoseiulus, a species of predatory mite, is one.

Spider mite control measures that work is to apply beneficial fungi. These fungi don’t leave harmful residues behind. Moreover, they produce protection that can last the entire season.

The fungal spores need to be sprayed on the leaves. They will spread over an entire area, which will help control the population of the spider mites.

The best spider mite control measures are to water your garden with a fungicide. Fungicides are more effective if applied after the spider mites in their nymph stage. Along with this, you need to control the humidity and humidity in the garden.

Environmental Spider Mite Control

Spider mites may not seem like the type of pest that could destroy your garden, but they can wreak havoc if you don’t take active control measures. Not only can spider mites affect roses, flowers, and ornamental shrubs, they can also feed on a larger list of broadleaf plants. These include geraniums, asters, fuchsias, and impatiens as well as some vegetable plants like celery. Spider mites are very small and can be nearly impossible to detect with your eyes without a magnifying glass.

Female spider mites lay around 200 eggs at a time. These eggs usually remain on the underside of the leaves. The tiny eggs are so tiny that they are actually almost invisible to the naked eye. After birth, the baby spider mites are entirely different than their parents. Their young bodies consist of red-orange colored abdomens. They usually go through three stages of growth before they are capable of reproducing and laying eggs.

If a spider mite infestation seeps into your home or garden area it is important to work quickly to eliminate them as they can spread quickly. Spider mites feed on the underside of leaves. If you notice tiny yellow or orange spots, it is likely that spider mites are the culprit of the damage.

Preventing Spider Mites

To prevent a spider mite infestation, you will need to understand their lifecycle.

Spider mites require three things in order to survive: food, water, and shelter.

This makes it important to understand the conditions necessary to host any of these elements.

Food sources for spider mites include nearly any plant in a garden.

This makes it important to keep the plants in your garden free from mites.

Spider mites will also consume other insects and even their own eggs. This is why it is important to remove as many of the pests as you can.

Spider mites generally do not live in the soil, as many claim.

The most common foods for spider mites are cruciferous plants.

This is why if you have a garden full of these plants, spider mites can quickly become a problem.

Spider mites have very small food requirements. This means that they can reproduce quickly, and can feed off of plants that other insects would not be able to use.

Spider mites can use many plants to feed off of and they can also feed off of each other.

This is why it is so important to remove them from the plants as they appear.

All known cure methods for spider mites are toxic to humans.

This includes applications of organic pesticides and insecticides.

Frequently Asked Questions

Spider mites are a common problem for gardeners worldwide. They're small, but they can have a devastating effect on your plants. During the colder months, spider mites tend to go into a period of hibernation. But if the temperature rises, they will start to come back out and a whole new generation of spider mites will begin to grow. So if you know how to spot the signs, you can deal with spider mites before they get out of hand.

Q: It seems to be spiders. Are they?

A: Yes and no. The more accurate description for this bug is "eight-legged" because it does not necessarily bite. The mites actually suck plant juices with their piercing mouth parts. This causes a sticky substance to cover the leaves and stems of the plant. The organism is often referred to as "the red spider mites" because it really doesn’t have any other colors at all. If you look closely, you'll notice that the red mites have a purple body with a red-colored gut.

Q: How big are spider mites?