Spider Mites Identification, Damage, and Management



What Do Spider Mites Look Like?

Identification. Spider mites have an oval body, eight legs, and two red eyespots. Often invisible to the naked eye, spider mites vary in color depending on time of year and species.  They tend to turn orange or red as winter approaches.

How Do I Know If I Have Spider Mites?

Damage.  There are several telltale signs that Spider Mites may be attacking your plants.  Here’s what to look for.

Initial signs of spider mite damage include a flecking or stippling appearance on the surface of leaves.  As they continue to feed the foliage will begin to bronze and then scorch.  Heavily infested leaves will turn yellow and ultimately drop off.

High populations produce visible webbing on foliage and stems.

How to Get Rid of Spider Mites

Control. There are several insecticides on the market designed for spider mite infestations.  These must be considered carefully because many actually exacerbate the problem.  Spider mite outbreaks often follow the use of insecticides that kill their natural predators.

Can I Get Rid of Spider Mites Naturally?

Natural Predators. Key predators of spider mites are predatory mites.  Additional predators include lady beetles, big-eyed bugs, predatory thrips, and minute pirate bugs.

Organic Methods. Insecticidal oils or soaps may be effective in the case of large, damaging outbreaks.

Cultural Controls. Spraying infected plants with a forceful stream of water from the hose can dislodge spider mites from an infected plant.

Trim heavily infested plants and destroy.  Discard and destroy severely infested plants to discourage spread to healthy plants..

Can I Prevent Spider Mites?

Prevention. The best preventative measures against spider mites is to create a favorable environment for natural enemies, which includes proper irrigation and avoiding dusty conditions and broad-spectrum insecticides.

Some spider mites overwinter in hidden, protected areas. Clean garden debris at the end of the season.

Spider mites prefer arid, dry conditions.  Keeping plants sufficiently watered will help to discourage the population.

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