What do spider mites do to plants? They feed in the undersides of almost any plant. Spider mites are common pests that suck the sap from above and below-ground plants, causing significant damage. They can also leave your plants vulnerable to secondary pests. They may be difficult to spot because they usually occur in large numbers on the underside of the leaf.
They feed on plant cells, and once numerous enough, create a fine webbing around the plants which gives them protection from their predators. Learn about the damage this critter does and about some spider mite control tips that might help you preserve your plant and garden.
How to tell if you have spider mites on your houseplants
The most common way to tell if you have spider mites is to look at your houseplants and see that they have yellow-brown spots on their leaves. These spots turn brown as a result of the plant trying to defend itself from mites, who are very small and are hard to see without a magnifying glass.
There are a few other ways to identify spider mites — you can look for small, silvery-white webbing in your plants or check for tiny black dots on leaf undersides — but the best way is through a magnifying glass.
If you suspect spider mites on indoor plants, here’s what you can do:
- Magnify any suspicious-looking bumps on the leaves of your plants. If you find more than one, that’s a sign of infestation.
- Look at undersides of leaves for tiny brown dots — spider mites love to hide there as they feed on plant sap.
- Inspect soil while watering your indoor plants and check in cracks or crevices where spider mites like to hide.
- Treat the entire indoor garden with a foliar spray containing 1 tsp of neem oil or hydroprene (both products are available at any home improvement store) every other week for three months; then continue the treatment twice per year thereafter until no more spiders appear in the garden during inspection.
What Do Spider Mites Do To Plants
There are many different types of spider mites and their symptoms vary depending on the type of plant. However, many signs indicate that spider mites are present:
Cracked or dry leaves
This is an easy one to know if it’s true: cracked leaves are usually caused by spider mites feeding.
Mottled, curling, or crinkled leaves
Spider mites suck out water from the plant’s juices and leave behind little holes where they’ve been feeding. When this happens, the leaves will often curl or wilt away from the stem.
Grayish leaves or dead spots on leaves.
Brown spots or splotches on white leaves indicate fungal problems. Yellowing leaves indicate leaf spot diseases like mosaic virus, which is more common in tropical plants like African violets and African lilies (which should be avoided). Brown spots or splotches on green leaves may be caused by mealybugs, which look similar to spider mites.
You’ll have more luck using this method if you start treating your plants at least three weeks before you notice any signs of spider mites. The sooner you catch them, the better off your plants will be because every day they’re allowed to go untreated is another day they’re damaging your plants’ health.
The damage they cause to plants:
Spider mites can destroy an entire crop of plants in a very short time. They are especially dangerous because they are very small and hard to see. Looking for spider mite eggs is one way to tell if you have them. The tiny eggs hatch into tiny versions of their parents, which look like moving dots on the underside of leaves.
Spider mites suck the juices and nutrients out of the plant, causing it to turn yellow and wilt. The damage they cause looks similar to other plant diseases, such as the bacterial disease leaf scorch. Spider mite symptoms can also be confused with drought, nutrient deficiencies or environmental stress.
Spider mites can cause a lot of damage to the leaves and stems of plants. They feed on the leaves and stems, sucking out fluids and leaving behind tiny holes. When you see these holes, you know that spider mites are present, even if you can’t see them.
You might notice webbing or tiny white speckles all over your plant, which are eggs that have been laid on the underside of the leaves and are just waiting for time to hatch. The way you treat spider mites depends on how bad they are and what type of plant you’re dealing with.
Spider mites are also responsible for widespread damage to crops across the world, from tomatoes to wheat to apples to cotton. That’s why it makes sense to avoid bringing spider mites into your home in the first place.
If you have spider mites, they’ll infest the surrounding plants as well, so it’s important to remove all infected plants immediately before they spread spider mites to your other plants.
Life stages of a spider mite
Spider mites suck fluids from the plant causing yellowed leaves, leaf drop and even death of the plant. When a lot of spider mites are present on a plant it is called a spider mite outbreak or a population explosion.
Spider mites can live on any kind of plant anywhere in the world except for in arid deserts, tundras and areas colder than -50 degrees Celsius (-58 degrees Fahrenheit).
The three stages of spider mites are egg, nymph and adult. After hatching the larvae develops into nymphs within 48 hours where they molt their skin 5 times before becoming adults. They become adults after 8 days of molting. At maturity, they are about 1/16 of an inch (1.5mm) long with bodies only 1/50 of an inch (0.5mm) long.
Spider mites can be green, red or brown depending on what plants they live on and their environment. Female spider mites lay as many as five eggs per day for most of their life. Their life span averages 21 days for males and 17 days for females.
Spider Mites Infesting Your Garden? Here’s How To Quickly Get Rid Of Them
Once you know what damage does spider mites can cause, you can keep them from harming your plants. Spider mites tend to attack new growth on a plant first, especially if it’s succulent new growth. To get rid of spider mites, try using one of these methods:
Dish soap spray:
Mix together 1-quart water, 1 tablespoon mild dish soap (not detergent) and 1 teaspoon vegetable oil. Spray the solution onto both sides of all plant foliage to control spider mites and other insect pests. Repeat once a week until the infestation is gone.
Neem oil spray:
Mix together 2 tablespoons neem oil per 1-quart water. Add a few drops mild dish soap to help the solution stick to plants, and spray all plant surfaces thoroughly, including undersides of leaves. Repeat every four to seven days as needed until pests are gone.
Insecticidal soap is an effective control for many insect pests, including spider because it kills them upon contact.
Damage caused by spider mites can range from just annoying to fatal, depending on how many there are and what kind of plant you’re talking about. Spider mites usually feed in groups so the damage is more noticeable.