I finally found (and bought) the perfect plants for my living room .. but .. they suddenly don’t look so beautiful anymore. The leaves are starting to show yellow and brown spots, the edges are turning brown, and even whole leaves are shriveled. What is happening? Spider mites. Aarghh. So, I put my plants in quarantine (in my shed) and started fighting these nasty bugs fanatically.
What are spider mites?
Spider mites are a common pest. It is a tiny mite, measuring between 0.2mm and 0.5mm, that loves to eat your plants. They especially like houseplants, tropical plants, fruits, and vegetables. The mites are usually located on the underside of the leaf and do not move that much, making them difficult to spot.
Signs of spider mites
Spider mites are usually white, yellow, or green and very small. They are therefore very hard to spot. You can recognize them mainly by the damage they cause. As I just said, these mites like to sit on the underside of the leaf. They make small holes in your leaves and suck up the plant sap. By sucking up this plant juice you sometimes see yellow dots appear on the top of the leaf. These dots are a sign that you have spider mites. In a severe infestation, the leaves dry out and fall.
In addition to the yellow tips or dried leaves, the mites form webs. Do you see webs in your plant? That means you have a serious infestation.
How to get rid of spider mites
You can control this animal in different ways. Below I discuss the most commonly used methods.
Homemade spider mite killer
A well-known means of controlling spider mites is methylated spirits and soap. Put 1 liter of water in a plant sprayer and add 20 grams of methylated spirits and 20 grams of green soap (or washing-up liquid). Shake properly and it is ready to use. Spray the leaves of your affected plant with this spray and repeat this regularly until the mite is completely gone.
The disadvantage of this method is that methylated spirits are bad for all animals, so the beneficial insects will also die from this treatment. Therefore this method is slightly less suitable for garden plants but fine for indoor plants.
Get rid of spider mites with vinegar
Replace the methylated spirits from the method above with vinegar and you have a more environmentally friendly way to control the mite. Spray the affected leaves of your plants once a day until they are free of mites.
Spider mite predators
A biological way to control mites is to use predatory mites. Predatory mites are effective throughout the mite’s life cycle. It destroys the spider mite’s eggs as well as the mite itself. Predatory mites are very easy to release. Sprinkle the mite on the leaves of your affected plant and, just to be sure, some in the vicinity of this plant. Several predatory mites are used to control spider mites: Phyto-mite, Forni-mite, and Andersoni.
Phyto-mite only eats adult mites. You use this predatory mite if you already have mites. It works most effectively if you use it indoors, in a greenhouse, or living room.
The forni-mite eats both adult mites and pollen and is more resistant to temperature changes than the phyto-mite. This predatory mite can be used indoors and outdoors.
Andersoni is an indigenous predatory mite that can be used indoors and outdoors.
A combination of phyto-mite and forni-mite is often used for optimal control.
Spider mites in your garden
Fruit trees, tropical plants, and vegetables are the spider mite’s favorite victims. But the insect is not very critical, so do not be surprised if you also encounter it in other plants.
Palm or Banana plant
Does your tropical plant suffer from spider mites? Then start by cutting off the infected leaves and treat the plant. You can use an anti-spider mite spray, but make sure you repeat this a few times. The spray only kills the spider mite and not the eggs. So treat weekly until you see that your palm is completely free of mites.
Spider mites on trees
Fruit trees such as the apple tree, fig tree, and plum tree are susceptible to spider mites. For the fruit tree, it is best to use the control method with water, spirit, and soap described above. It is quite a job to spray all the leaves, but it works effectively. Another commonly suggested control method is garlic control. Hang a few sliced garlic cloves in your fruit tree (too many won’t hurt, so please exaggerate) and refresh them every two days. After a week, spray the tree thoroughly with a strong jet of water and you will see the mites have disappeared.
Vegetables in your kitchen garden, such as cucumber, are also popular among spider mites. If your cucumber shows yellow spots on the leaves and you see a layer of spider web over the leaf and stem, you are suffering from this pest. Start by removing the affected leaves and spray the remaining leaves generously with water. Preferably several times a day. Spider mites do not like moisture and high humidity, so there is a good chance that you will soon get rid of it with this method. If the mite is stubborn, you can always use a spider mite spray and treat your affected vegetable garden plants with this.
Spider mites on houseplants
Spider mites love warm and dry places, so they love to stay in greenhouses or the living room on your beautiful houseplant. This creature is very mobile, so if you notice mites in your houseplant, put it in quarantine immediately to prevent other houseplants from becoming infected.
You can prevent spider mites by making sure you have healthy plants. So change the potting soil of your houseplant at least every three years and try to prevent plants from being too dry. Inadequate fertilization can also make your plant weaker and more susceptible to infestations.
Spider mites on weed
Cannabis is also sensitive to spider mites. If you have several cannabis plants, make sure that you immediately put the infected plant somewhere else. To prevent the mites from spreading to all your plants. Cut the affected leaves from your plant and start spraying your plant vigorously. The cannabis plant also benefits from the predatory mite method described above.
Still bugged by spider mites? Try an organic anti-mite spray. You can buy this at Amazon or a garden center near you.