One of the most common pests gardeners have to deal with is the spider mite. Although not harmful to humans, they love attacking plants. Spider mites can attach themselves to plants for several weeks before they die.
Despite having a short cycle of approximately four weeks, they reproduce quickly. The spider mite females may have already laid hundreds of eggs when they are about a week old.
Spider mite eggs hatch within 72 hours. There are different species of spider mites; some are black, others are green, and others are purple. But generally, spider mites are more active during the warmer seasons. Spider mites appear as yellow or white specks on the plant foliage.
These pests create webbing on plants and cause the shedding of leaves. So how do you get rid of spider mites? In this article, we take a look at seven effective ways to kill spider mites.
How to get rid of spider mites
- Biological control methods
A good percentage of gardeners use biological control to get rid of spider mites. Predators like ladybugs and thrips can help you reduce the population of spider mites.
Using the biological control method enables you to protect your plants from toxic chemicals. Other natural predators that can help you control mites are lacewings and predatory mites.
So, where do you get natural predators? In case you didn’t know, you can get predatory insects from your local garden store. They are relatively affordable; thus, they will help you save on costs.
Once you purchase these predatory insects, pour them into the planting pot or container. They will eat hundreds of mites in a day.
- Essential oils
Another technique of controlling spider mites is by using essential oils. Rosemary and coriander oils can help you manage the population of spider mites. All you have to do is fill the oil in a spray bottle and spray it on your affected plants. Neem oil is also effective in getting rid of spider mites since it suffocates them.
- Hot peppers
Did you know that hot pepper is effective in getting rid of spider mites? Based on previous studies, hot peppers can kill up to 50% of spider mites. Some of the best hot pepper varieties you can use include lemon drop, cayenne, and chile peppers. You can always make your hot pepper repellant at home or purchase one from your local garden store.
- Dishwashing soap
Dishwashing soap can also kill spider mites. All you have to do is, mix three tablespoons of dishwashing soap with water. Then, pour it into a spray bottle. Spray the solution on the affected plants at least once a week. Observe if there’s any change.
- Rubbing alcohol
You can also get rid of spider mites by rubbing alcohol on the affected area. Use medium-sized cotton balls soaked in alcohol to wipe the affected areas. As you do this, be careful not to damage the plant foliage.
After wiping the leaves, let the alcohol soak in for several hours. Then, use clean water to rinse the leaves thoroughly. At times, gardeners prefer spraying water to wash away the spider mites. Although this may work, the spider mites will always be back in no time.
- Insecticidal soap or horticultural oil
If organic solutions don’t work, try using synthetic insecticides. Insecticides are very effective in getting rid of spider mites. However, they contain toxic chemicals that can damage the entire plant.
Nonetheless, you can always find organic insecticides specifically designed to destroy spider mites alone. When applying insecticides to your plants, ensure it does not splash on the plant foliage. Otherwise, this would cause dehydration, and in turn, your plants will get weaker.
If your plants are already dehydrated, avoid using insecticides. Also, avoid using insecticides when the temperature is too high. Always check the usage guidelines from the manufacturer before you use any of these products.
Also, ensure you check your plant requirements. It is always advisable to use insecticides with pyrethrin to kill spider mites. Moreover, note that insecticides usually work best for indoor plants due to cooler temperatures.
- Diatomaceous earth
Another way of getting rid of spider mites is by using diatomaceous earth. Diatomaceous earth is harmless to humans yet toxic to mites. This organic pesticide, therefore, helps you get rid of spider mites. All you have to do is to sprinkle it on the affected plants. It will naturally dehydrate the spider mites and eventually kill them.
Other ways of control of spider mites
Removing the Leaves
One effective way of controlling the spider mite population is by removing the leaves from the plants. Once you remove the affected leaves from the plant, there are no chances of experiencing this problem again. However, before using this technique, you have to make sure that other leaves are not affected.
Some leaves may have one or two spider mites, and this can be dangerous. Remember, spider mites reproduce very quickly. Hence leaving one affected leaf will take you back to square one.
After removing all the affected leaves, avoid adding organic matter around the plant since this only attracts more termites. Also, dispose of all the affected leaves correctly. The best way to dispose of them is to burn them not to affect healthy leaves in the garden.
Wash and Wipe the Leaves
A simple way of getting rid of spider mites is to rinse off the spider mites using water. Gardeners usually use a garden hose to spray the leaves with water to wash off the spider mites.
Ensure the hose you use is a high-pressure hose. Spider mites are light in weight; hence, they will quickly get washed off by the water. Water will also help you get rid of the spider mite eggs on the leaves. As you rinse off the spider mites, concentrate on the underside of the leaf.
Rinse repeatedly to avoid leaving any traces of spider mites on the leaves. Afterward, start wiping the plants. This can be tedious, especially if you have many plants.
Use a wet sponge with insecticidal soap or alcohol to wipe the leaves. Leave the alcohol to settle on the leaves for a couple of hours before rinsing it. To keep off spider mites away from your plants, you may have to wash your leaves once every week.
Use Homemade Herbal Tea
The next technique of getting rid of spider mites is using homemade herbal tea. Herbal is easy to make and use. All you have to do is make herbal tea using cinnamon and garlic and mix it with water.
Then, fill the solution in a spray bottle and start spraying the plants. Focus on spraying underneath the leaves since this is where most spider mites hide. Do this repeatedly twice or thrice a week.
Herbal tea eventually destroys all spider mites. There is no harm in adding tiny amounts of insecticidal soap to the herbal tea solution. It only makes the solution more effective in killing the mites fast.
Use Organic Salts
Organic salts are also effective in destroying spider mites. Spider mites have tiny, delicate bodies. When their bodies come in contact with organic salts, it tortures and corrodes them; hence eventually killing them. The best organic salts to use to kill spider mites are potassium salts.
Can Spider mites live in soil?
Spider mites can live in the soil. In fact, gardening experts report that spider mites usually come from the unsterile potting soil. This is how they get access to your plants. But generally, spider mites can come from anywhere.
Some spider mites can stay on your garden clothes and even pets. However, you’ll mostly find them on affected plants. Ultimately, spider mites can live in the soil. But they can also live in other places.
How can you spot spider mites on leaves?
More often than not, you would recognize spider mites as tiny bugs that camp underneath plant foliage. They could be white or yellow. Usually, they create a web to protect themselves from danger.
The most common way of spotting spider mites is through their webbing. However, if the spider mites have infested your plants for a long time, they could cause brown or black spots on the leaves.
Confirming that spider mites have invaded your plants requires you to place a white piece of paper underneath the leaves.
Then, shake the leaves; spider mites will resemble ground pepper. If you notice spider mites on your plants, take the necessary measures to eliminate these pests.
At what temperature do spider mites die?
Spider mites survive best in warmer temperatures. But this does not mean they cannot stay in cold and moist conditions. Nevertheless, there are certain temperatures that don’t favor spider mites.
Experts report that spider mites thrive best in temperatures of 27 degrees Celsius. However, when the temperature falls below 20 degrees Celsius, spider mites cannot survive.
Also, if the environmental temperatures exceed 40 degrees Celsius, spider mites are likely to die. Therefore, one way to get rid of spider mites is by regulating the environmental temperatures.
You can either choose to lower or raise the environmental temperatures to prevent the survival of spider mites. Ultimately, spider mites rarely survive in extremely hot and cold temperatures.
Aside from regulating the environmental temperatures, you can also increase the amount of carbon dioxide to kill spider mites. According to previous statistics, raising the percentage of carbon dioxide in the air kills spider mites.
Even better, increasing the environmental temperatures and carbon dioxide levels simultaneously is very effective in killing spider mites. Nevertheless, implementing this technique is not as simple as most people think.
Increasing carbon dioxide levels is dangerous to human health. Additionally, increasing the environmental temperatures is not conducive to healthy plant growth. In fact, some plants may end up dying when you increase the room temperature.
So, before you incorporate such biological pest control measures, conduct thorough research and consult a professional. Ensure you know the consequences involved in each technique. From there, you’ll know the best biological control method to implement.
Do away with spider mites
Spider mites can be very hard to eradicate when they affect your plants. This is because they reproduce quickly. Even so, there are several techniques you can use to get rid of spider mites.
Some include using natural predators, synthetic insecticides, and organic salts. Regardless of the method you choose, ensure you analyze your plant requirements.