Rid of spider mites


Spider Mite Detection And Spider Mite Natural Control

Spider mites are one of the more common houseplant pests. Getting rid of spider mites is not always easy, but it can be done.

Spider Mite Detection

Being able to effectively kill spider mites starts with good spider mite detection. Good spider mite detection starts with looking at the plant. The three most common signs of spider mites are:

  • Yellow, tan or white spots on the leaves of your plant.
  • Very small white or red spots on the leaves that move (these are the mites themselves).
  • White, cottony webbing that appears on the underside of the leaves.

If you believe that your plant is affected by spider mites, immediately isolate the plant and take steps to kill the spider mites.

Getting Rid of Spider Mites

Getting rid of spider mites is difficult but, with persistence, it can be done. You can do this with either natural controls or chemical controls.

Spider mite – natural control

Getting rid of spider mites though natural controls in normally done in one of two ways.

The first way is to isolate the plant and then spray the leaves and stems of then plant with pressure water, like from a hose or faucet. Spray down as much of the plant as possible. This spider mite natural control will need to be repeated several times to be effective.

The second natural control is to introduce natural predators to the infected plant. Ladybugs and other parasitic mites that kill spider mites can be purchased from reputable nurseries. Make sure that the insects you purchase to kill spider mites are appropriate for the plant and season you will be using.

Spider mite – chemical control

Getting rid of spider mites using chemical controls also has two options.

First you can use neem oil or insecticidal oil. These substances will cling to them to kill spider mites rather effectively.

Second you can use a miticide, which will be effective for getting rid of spider mites.

If you are using chemical controls, remember that they will kill all insects, not just the spider mites. Also, any chemicals need to touch the spider mites to kill spider mites. You will need to make sure that the plant is thoroughly covered in the chemicals in order to be effective.

How To Get Rid Of Spider Mites

The first thing you should know is that these tiny creatures are not actually insects, they are rather related to a group of arachnids, and were named spider mites due to their ability to produce fine silk. They are parasites damaging crops, trees, and plants by sucking on the underside of leaves and thus killing the vegetation. For this reason, taking timely measures related to spider mite control is essential for farmers and gardeners facing this kind of infestation. In this article, we will tell you how to get rid of spider mites by the most effective way, including a botanical control, and will look at the 8 most popular pest control products which are commercially available. To make our research as reliable as possible, we have based our conclusions only on scientifically proven facts and referred to academic studies. Also, we have examined the consumers’ feedback on particular products.

Table of Contents:

Identifying Spider Mites

So, how do you know that you are dealing with spider mites? It’s not easy to detect them with the naked eye, without a magnifying glass, as these spiders are incredibly small in size which does not exceed 1/50 inch in length. Visually, they look like moving dots and when monitoring spider mites you will reveal a generous amount of such moving dots as they live in colonies. Fading leaves with on the top and a webbing underneath is an unmistakable sign of mite infestation. In order to make sure that you are dealing with spider mites, tap a leaf over white paper. If you see moving dots, it’s them.

Spider mites live a short life which sometimes does not exceed seven days but, as if to make up for this, they produce up to twenty generations annually. They normally overwinter in plant debris. What are the physical characteristics of spider mites? These arachnids have eight legs and an oval-shaped body, but you may encounter diverse species depending on the region. There is a number of species, the presence of which in the area varies geographically.

Two-spotted and spruce spider mites are the most troublesome species. The former has a green-yellow body decorated with two black spots. These pests feed on a broad spectrum of plants, trees, fruits and flowers, weaving webs under leaves or on branches. The female mites overwinter in the soil what should be taken into account when making a decision on pest control measures. Two-spotted spider mites may appear in your garden in the spring and can be observed in the period from June to October. And the most unpleasant part of it is that they are notably active during this time laying translucent eggs as long as the weather permits. Note that the most favorable weather for the Two-spotted spider mite is sunny and dry. These pests infest almost two hundred types of plants, whether they are crops, weeds or flowers, causing premature leaf drop.

Another species of spider mite, which hates wet weather conditions, is the European red mites which often occur on apple, cherry, and other fruit trees. They lay eggs of bright red color, either on branches, or on the leaf underside in such amounts that one would easily mistake it for powder. Spruce spider mites attack all sorts of conifers turning their needles brown. Most damage is inflicted at the base of a tree or shrub, with older needles being especially vulnerable. This species prefers a cooler temperature, which is why they are most active in the spring and autumn. To check for Spruce spider mites, look for webbings on the needles. Upon discovering them, do not hesitate to resort to pest control management as, in case of heavy infestation, trees and shrubs of small sizes can be totally destroyed by these pests. Meanwhile, do not let these creatures trick you: the thing is that the damage may not be seen until mid-summer, even if the tree was infested as far back as the previous year.

Spider Mite Control

Before treating spider mites in your garden, take some measures to create conditions unfavorable for these pests. First and foremost, remove dust with the use of water. Irrigating plants with a focus on the leaf undersides will keep them clean, make them less likely to experience a mite infestation. But remember, you have to do it on a regular basis to obtain the result.

Michael F. Potter, an extension entomologist at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, recommends using a garden hose to remove mites from small plants. He notes, however, that this approach will not work in case of heavy infestation. Apart from this, pull out seriously infested plants and use floating row covers to protect your garden.

When facing a severe problem involving spider mites, it makes sense to resort to chemical control. As David J. Shetlar, at the Department of Entomology, the Ohio State University Extension, put it, as a rule, because they are not insects, spider mites cannot be killed with regular insecticides, which is why only products marked with “miticide” label should be applied in this case. If the label says “for mite suppression,” then it means that the product is too weak to control spider mites and you will have to apply it a number of times to achieve the result. Mr. Shetlar stresses that most true miticides are labeled for restricted use only and are available for licensed professionals. However, there are the following miticides intended for over-the-counter sale: Abamectin, Bifenazate, Hexythiazox, and Spiromesifen.

Mind you, miticides is a very potent solution, so be sure to read the product’s instruction before application as it may damage or discolor some species of plants. Also, when spraying a miticide, it is crucial for the product to thoroughly cover the leaves, especially their undersides. Apply the product exactly to the product instructions in order to efficiently control spider mites.

Also, spraying horticultural oil and dormant oil is a good solution for homeowners, although some flowers may be damaged by these so-called “soft pesticides”. Nor should they be applied to conifers which could be discolored. When spraying insecticidal oils, take care to cover the foliage particularly thoroughly. Use horticultural oils in summer, while dormant oils should be applied during colder months of the year. Products based on these substances have a significant advantage: they have minimal impact on beneficial insects. But a disadvantage is also witnessed. Namely, the effect of these oils lasts for a short period of time and it is necessary to re-apply the substance, an article published by the University of Maryland Extension states.

Surprisingly, the application of some insecticides can encourage multiplication of spider mites, according to L. D. Godfrey, an entomologist at the University of California. The thing is that insecticides kill natural insect enemies of mites. However, it’s not the most important. Another drawback of some insecticides is that they prompt reproduction of spider mites. “For example, spider mites exposed to carbaryl (Sevin) in the laboratory have been shown to reproduce faster than untreated populations. Carbaryl, some organophosphates, and some pyrethroids apparently also favor spider mites by increasing the level of nitrogen in leaves,” the scientist claims.

Also, as long as spider mites do not consume anything they will not be harmed by chemicals functioning through ingestion.

Note that pesticides can harm human health and cause damage to the environment, therefore thoroughly read the product’s label and manufacturer’s application instruction regarding the usage, storage, and disposal of that given chemical. Always strictly follow the prescriptions.

Spider Mite Eggs

When tackling spider mites infestations, take a broader approach and treat both adults and eggs. The latter are responsible for future generations of the pests and preventing their emergence helps keep your garden safe and healthy. Spider mite eggs normally have a spherical, round shape, but, as we have mentioned above, their color may vary depending on the species.

These bite-size balls can be discovered on the underside of leaves, meanwhile, it is not an easy task to destroy them. The thing is that miticides have little or no impact on mite eggs, nor do they affect larvae and molting nymphs. Michael F. Potter from the University of Kentucky attributes this peculiarity to the fact that when molting the former skin of these arachnids make them resistant to chemicals.

Scientists at the University of Maryland Extension claim that horticultural oil and insecticidal soap have the strongest impact on spider mite eggs. Spraying is recommended early in the morning, however, take care not to treat the plants too heavily as they can be harmed. Spruce spider mites and European red mites overwinter as eggs on the plants, that is why dormant oils designed to be used in the cold months of the year are helpful in eliminating the infestation.

How To Kill Spider Mites Naturally

Sometimes nature itself does all the work for you and this is the case when you should take advantage of it. This is particularly relevant when it comes to organic gardening. Biological control implies the exploitation of insects preying on spider mites, such as ladybugs, as well as predatory mites which kill these pests. Ladybugs are commercially available but it could be impractical to buy them as they will fly away as soon as their food ends. For this reason, it makes sense to attract these insects naturally, in particular, by building or buying special ladybug houses.

L. D. Godfrey from the University of California advises using western predatory mite and Phytoseiulus mite species, which go after plant-feeding spider mites. The former one is best for the hot and dry environment. These predators can be purchased from a shop and should be released on the infested plants or trees. Actually, there is a wide range of natural enemies of spider mites that can be used in your pest control strategy. These are six-spotted thrips, the larvae of particular flies such as the cecidomyid Feltiella acarivora, and some general predators including minute pirate bugs and lace­wing larvae, to name a few. Western flower thrips are effective in dealing with both spider mite eggs and larvae. Be careful, however, in using this kind of predators as they can also harm the vegetation.

When establishing a new population, predatory mites should be purchased. But in order to achieve maximum efficiency, take care to create favorable conditions for predators to live and reproduce by avoiding the use of chemicals in pest treatment. In case of biological spider mite control, scientists recommend tackling heavy infestations by first applying soap spray to reduce the number of these plant-feeders and then putting predatory mites to do their job. You should take into account that repeated releases of predators may be needed for satisfactory control and achieving an immediate result.

It is not only predators that can be used. Below you will find tips on how to treat spider mites naturally and some homemade recipes:

  • Pepper spray. You need water and a piece of soap without additives. Mix them in the proportion nine by one, then add one tablespoon of cayenne pepper. When the liquid is ready to use, spray the bottom of every leaf in the infested area.
  • Nicotine spray. Note that commercial options are too strong and can be harmful to beneficial insects, whereas their homemade analogs have a milder impact. To make a nicotine spray, mix a cup of cigarette butts with one gallon of warm water, and add ten drops of liquid soap. The latter will help the liquid to coat the plant. Steep the mixture for a half an hour, then pour it through a cheesecloth into a container with a lid. Keep it on hand for at least 30 days, then spray the plants.
  • Use essential oils, such as rosemary, neem and lemon ones. Mix them with one liter of water and pour the liquid into a spray bottle. It will kill spider mites without damaging the infested plants. Saber Miresmailli, the Executive Science Officer of Sumatics LLC. at New York, claims that rosemary oil is good at killing spider mites, while it does not have a strong impact on predators which are beneficial. According to laboratory bioassay results, “a pure rosemary oil and rosemary oil-based pesticides caused complete mortality of spider mites at concentrations that are not phytotoxic to the host plant”.
  • Apply diatomaceous earth, which is a natural mineral and multi-purpose organic pesticide. DE kills spider mites through dehydration by removing the outer layer of their cuticles.

How To Get Rid Of Spider Mites: Comparison Chart

Method Advantage Disadvantage Grade (1-10)
Removing dust environmentally friendly solution; creates unfavorable conditions for spider mites; does not involve spending money labor-consuming; should be done regularly to produce a result 10
Killing mites with a strong stream of water produce an immediate result; kills lots of mites at once; environmentally friendly solution labor-consuming; does not work in case of heavy infestation; may harm leaves of the plants; 9
Miticides produce an immediate result; kills lots of mites at once; most true miticides are available for professionals only; may damage or discolor some species of plants; encourages the spread of mites by killing the beneficial insects preying on them; mites can become resistant to various pesticides; no impact on mite eggs; 8
Horticultural / dormant oils have minimal impact on beneficial insects; unlike miticides, available for homeowners; effectively destroy eggs and larvae; can be used on a year-round basis the effect lasts for a short period of time; requires repeated applications 10
Use of natural predators environmentally friendly solution; can be attracted naturally by means of creating favorable conditions can leave the area when running out of food; some species of predatory mites can damage plants; repeated releases of predators may be needed 10
Diatomaceous earth environmentally friendly solution; does not contain poisons can cause skin irritation; being an insecticide it is not non-toxic 9
Pepper spray can be homemade; easy solution; natural has a short-term effect; can burn and irritate skin; required repeated application 8
Nicotine spray can be homemade; natural toxic; has a short-term effect; required repeated application 6
Essential oils kill spider mites without damaging the infested plants; can be homemade; natural; does not have a strong impact on beneficial predators have a short-term effect; required repeated application 8

TOP-8 Spider Mite Killers

Below you will find a review of commercially available products designed to kill spider mites and their eggs. We will consider natural predators, such as ladybugs and predatory mites, insecticides based on chemicals and natural ingredients, as well as insecticidal soap and dormant oil recommended by scientists for eggs destruction.

1. Garden Safe Insecticidal Soap Insect Killer (Ready-to-Use) (HG-10424X) (24 fl oz)

This solution is made from plant-derived fatty acids and is compatible with organic gardening. It kills mites on contact by penetrating the body and disrupting cellular function. The product can be applied on vegetables, fruit trees, ornamental plants, including edibles. However, to obtain desirable results, you should spray on spider mites directly, namely, all over the leaves and stems as well as under the leaves, otherwise, the effect is not guaranteed.

Garden Safe is useless in the elimination of spider mite eggs. It must not be applied on sweet peas and delicate ferns, as well as should be used with care on blooms and transplants. Also, do not treat plants with the spray during the full sun or on hot days. In case of rain, it should be reapplied.

The product has received 3.7 out of 5 stars, with 47% of the customers awarding it five stars. “Thorough spraying kills bugs that you don’t see, but it does not leave a toxic residue like some harsh pesticides will,” comments one of the users. Some of the customers point out that Garden Safe is good as a preventive measure.

Price: Check the current price

2. Safer Brand 5118 Insect Killing Soap – 16-Ounce Concentrate

Safer Brand costs twice as much as the previous product, but it seems to be a cost-effective one. This concentrate, the half of which volume are salts of fatty acids, makes up to six gallons of ready-to-use liquid. What is needed is to mix one-part soap concentrate with 50 parts water. It is certified for use in organic gardening by OMRI and the NOP and can be used on edibles and ornamentals as well. So, the product’s key distinguishing feature is that the bottle contains fifty times more of the acids than the spray we reviewed before. But still, you will have to make a number of applications for a satisfactory spider mite control.

This solution is more popular with users giving it 3.9 out of 5 stars. Some of the customers seem to be disillusioned with insecticides’ impact on spider mites: “Nothing seems to work on them. I have them now in my grow room. I am now going to try green lacewings which is a parasitic insect,” one of them writes in the commentary section. Others indicate the success and give recommendations to follow: “It “dries out” the critters. That’s why it’s so important to make sure the critters are fully soaked”.

x Product from Amazon, Publisher may get a commission AdChoices Product from Amazon, Publisher may get a commissionSafer Brand 5118 Insect Killing Soap – 16-Ounce Concentrate

By Safer

$9.53 $11.39

Last update on 2020-02-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Price: Check the current price

3. Bayer Advanced 701290 3-in-1 Insect Disease and Mite Control Ready-To-Use, 24-Ounce

This product containing Imidacloprid is more expensive than the soap concentrate. Bayer Advanced is labeled for the application on plants, trees, and shrubs attacking a number of pests, including spider mites. The solution has one-month protection against rain, moreover, its residual lasts two times longer compared with other products. However, being good at killing mites, this characteristic shows that the product is not environmentally friendly due to the effect duration.

It received 4.1 out of 5 stars, with 61% of the consumers providing better feedback. Some customers say that this insecticide performs much better than its analogs: “I had tried two other products without any success. I had to spray them on the plant daily and each day more mites came back. I sprayed the plants and then put some of the product in the dirt as instructed and have not had any mites come back in a month,” a commentary reads. Some of the users facing mite problems state that they had to apply the solution on a daily basis when started the treatment. But eventually, the pests have been eradicated. Also, being a potent insecticide, Bayer Advanced should be applied carefully in order not to affect beneficial insects.

Price: Check the current price

4. Growers Trust Spider Mite Killer, Non-toxic, 32 oz

This insecticide will cost you more money, but this is the price to pay for a solution based on natural ingredients. It is designed specifically to control spider mites and, according to the manufacturer, the product kills them at all stages, including eggs. Apply the product both indoors and outdoors, it is safe for pets, people and the environment.

Growers Trust Spider Mite Killer includes active ingredients sodium lauryl sulfate which creates a foam, as well as geranium, castor and rosemary oils. Regarding the latter, as we stated above, rosemary oil causes a total elimination of the affected mites, with plants remaining unharmed if the product is used at reasonable concentrations.

The manufacturer claims that the product is as effective as chemical pesticides which are not environmentally friendly. However, the users have awarded it 3.1 out of 5 stars, with 27% of consumers giving it just one star. “This product not only saved my plants, but it is also non-toxic so that family and I can safely remain in our home after spraying, and the scent is pleasant citrus,” a satisfied customer wrote. Meanwhile, some consumers were apparently disappointed claiming that Growers Trust killed their plants or burnt the leaves. Well, it should be taken into account, however, the question remains as to whether they followed the manufacturer’s instruction.

x Product from Amazon, Publisher may get a commission AdChoices Product from Amazon, Publisher may get a commission

Last update on 2020-02-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Price: Check the current price

5. 1500 Live Ladybugs

Ladybugs are natural enemies of spider mites and a very efficient solution to the pest infestation problem. This package contains 1500 ladybugs which are guaranteed to be delivered alive. Also, you will get a guide on how and when to release these insects, as well as some tips related to the treatment.

Taking into account the recommendations of the scientists mentioned above, this looks like an attractive offer as not only adults ladybugs, but their larvae as well prey on spider mites. When buying 1500 these beneficial insects you actually get much more of them since ladybugs will reproduce increasing their population.

It is preferable to release them at dusk close to the infested plants and trees. Prior to releasing the ladybugs, irrigate the plants to provide these insects with a source of water. Do not let them out at once, rather introduce in small portions regularly. However, if you have just applied any pesticide in the garden, wait for several weeks before releasing the ladybugs. As a reference, this number of ladybugs covers about 1000 square feet of the area.

The product has received 4.4 out of 5 stars on and is marked as a bestseller No.1. Many customers were satisfied with the quality of the product: “They arrived 100% alive. Literally not a single dead Ladybug in the mesh. Packaging was high quality,” one of them comments.

x Product from Amazon, Publisher may get a commission AdChoices Product from Amazon, Publisher may get a commission 1500 Live Ladybugs – Good Bugs – Ladybugs – Guaranteed Live Delivery!

By Bug Sales


Last update on 2020-02-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Price: Check the current price

6. 2,000 Live Adult Predatory Mites

If you do not trust these tiny ladies, but still want to use natural predators, consider predatory mites. This offer is twice as expensive as the previous one, but the rating on is notably poorer — 3.6 out of 5 stars, with 26% of the consumers giving just one star to the product. The package contains 2,000 predatory mites of different species, so you do not have to guess which one you need in a particular case.

Opinions were divided, some claim that this solution works: “My poor house plants were ridden with webs from the spider mites and were not happy. We bought these and they did their job,” wrote one of the customers. Others disagree lamenting the absence of tangible results and that the predators do not reproduce.

Price: Check the current price

7. Voluntary Purchasing Group 32034 Paraffin Oil Spray, 32 oz

Dormant Spray contains 97% paraffinic oil as an active ingredient. Present-day dormant oils can be applied to plant leaves on a year-round basis without damaging the foliage, however, in earlier years, dormant oils used to be less refined and unsafe for some plants. This solution should be applied only in the dormant season.

Since the product is a concentrate, mix it with water at a rate of approximately 2 oz per gallon. Actually, the dilution rate depends on the plant you treat. For ornamental ones mix 1.5 oz. per gallon of water, for fruit trees — 3 oz. per gallon. The liquid should be sprayed three times while the plant is dormant.

The product has gained 3.8 out of 5 stars, with 66% of the consumers awarding it five stars. Judging by the feedback, it seems that the solution really works. “It’s basically mineral oil but it does the job,” writes one of them.

x Product from Amazon, Publisher may get a commission AdChoices Product from Amazon, Publisher may get a commission Voluntary Purchasing Group 32034 EMW7309834, 32 oz



Last update on 2020-02-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Price: Check the current price

8. Mite Massacre 8 oz. Spider Mite Killer and Powdery Mildew Fighter

This solution is designed to kill both adults and their eggs by first suffocating spider mites and then drying their bodies and eggs which lead to the total elimination of several generations. Mite Massacre is a concentrate making up to 8 gallons of spray. To that end, dilute one oz. per gallon of water.

The product is based on a blend of saponified oils killing pests. While being a combination of pesticidal and fungicidal properties, it is based on natural ingredients and can be applied to edibles, however, it is not certified organic. According to the manufacturer, spider mites do not get immune to this product.

Mite Massacre has got 3.5 out of 5 stars, not an impressing approval rating, one must say. Judging by the feedback, it seems that most of the negative comments are related to the product’s inflicting damage to the plants.

x Product from Amazon, Publisher may get a commission AdChoices Product from Amazon, Publisher may get a commission Mite Massacre 8 oz. Spider Mite Killer and Powdery Mildew Fighter – Makes 8 GALLONS of Spray

By Element Nutrients


Last update on 2020-02-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Price: Check the current price

Comparative Chart Of Spider Mite Control Products

Product Type
Garden Safe Insecticidal Soap Insect Killer fatty acids
Safer Brand 5118 Insect Killing Soap – 16-Ounce Concentrate Potassium salts and fatty acids
Bayer Advanced 701290 3-in-1 Insect Disease and Mite Control Ready-To-Use, 24-Ounce imidacloprid
Growers Trust Spider Mite Killer Sodium lauryl sulphate and trace amounts of geranium, castor and rosemary oils
1500 Live Ladybugs natural predators
2,000 Live Adult Predatory Mites natural predators
Voluntary Purchasing Group 32034 Paraffin Oil Spray, 32 oz Parafin oil
Mite Massacre 8 oz. Spider Mite Killer and Powdery Mildew Fighter Soya bean oil and Sodium lauryl suphate

How to Get Rid Of Spider Mites

Spider mites are tiny arachnids that usually live on plants. Because they are so small, they can infest a plant and cause problems before you even notice them. They spin small webs and suck the chlorophyll out of the plant. They can be found on both indoor and outdoor plants, and while spider mites don’t often bite humans, they could cause a reaction if the person is allergic. So what do you do when you notice spider mites on your household plants?

Step 1: Check Other Plants

If you find spider mites on one plant in your home, check the other plants in your home. You may need a magnifying glass as some spider mites are quite tiny. Isolate the plants that are infested with spider mites and move on to step two.

Step 2: Clean the Plants

Once you have identified the spider mites, you should gently clean the plant. Using a sponge and warm soapy water (dish detergent is fine), wipe down both sides of each leaf on the plant. Repeat this process once a week for a few weeks. Remove any portions of the plant that are damaged.

Step 3: Hose them down

If your plants are still infested with spider mites after a few weeks, it is time to get more aggressive. Take your plants outdoors and rinse them thoroughly with your garden hose. If it’s too cold outside, then use your shower to rinse off the plants. The high pressure from your hose or shower head should blast the mites off of the plants.

Step 4: Add More Bugs

Ladybugs eat mites and can get rid of the mites on your household plants. You can place the plants outside, buy a bag of ladybugs, and disperse them on the plants.

Step 5: Chemicals and Natural Insecticides

If nothing else has worked, or if your infestation is particularly bad, you may need to use chemicals. You can use a variety of solutions including:

  • Rubbing Alcohol – Wipe each leaf with rubbing alcohol.
  • Neem Oil – Spray both sides of the leaves with neem oil.
  • Rosemary Oil – Mix a combination of rosemary oil and water and spray both sides of the leaves.
  • Insecticidal Soap – Spray with insecticidal soap and wipe off the leaves.

Some spider mites are incredibly difficult to kill, so many people give up and throw away their houseplants. Such drastic measures are unnecessary; a trained pest control expert can help you get rid of spider mites quickly and easily.

If you have a garden or houseplants, pests will appear. Here’s a guide on how to control plant pests. Plus you’ll learn how to identify spider mites and whiteflies so you can take action.

Even though you might keep your garden or houseplants well-tended, pests can seemingly appear out of nowhere. What’s up with that? This is why it’s important to know what’s attacking your plants with proper ID and then spring into action. Last week I covered aphids and mealybugs. This is all about spider mites and whiteflies and how to control them.

What Are Spider Mites and Whiteflies?

Both spider mites and whiteflies are soft-bodied, sucking insects.

They slowly suck the sap out of a plant which over time weakens it, stunts the growth and deforms the flower. You can liken sap in plants to blood in animals. The sap contains sugar which these pests love, as do ants who in turn flock to an infested plant.

Spider Mites

Here’s a red spider mite close up. You’d need a magnifying glass to see it.

Spider mites are hard to identify until the damage is already done, because they’re so tiny. They’re difficult to see without a magnifying glass but can be red, greenish or light brown. If you think your plant is infested with them, just put a piece of light colored paper under the leaf and tap, tap, tap. When little specks fall onto the paper, then you can i.d. them.

Spider mites are actually related to spiders. They generally hang out on the undersides of the leaves. If you see the leaves yellowing, mottling, specking and eventually turning brown, then the infestation is getting bad. The leaves will fall off and webbing (usually at the top where the new growth is) will appear when things are getting really bad. When it reaches this stage, it’s hard to bring the plant back to health.

Spider mites breed like crazy.

When I was starting out my horticultural career in Boston as an interior plant care technician, they would explode on the scene in late fall/winter when the heat was turned on. We had to replace a lot of Dracaena marginatas, Bamboo Palms, Areca Palms and Neanthe Bella Palms on commercial accounts due to bad infestations.

So, if you have houseplants, be sure to check them for spider mites at that time of year. If you prefer to grow your own, keep your eyes open for spider mites (as well as thrips) infesting pot.


Whiteflies on the other hand, are very easy to spot and i.d. They’re small (but big enough to see), white and fly off when you touch a plant. It’s actually the adults that fly and that’s what makes them hard to control. At juvenile stage they just hang out on the under sides of the leaves.

Whiteflies, like aphids and mealy bugs, secrete sugar that they can’t ingest when sucking the sap. This causes the leaves to get sticky. You might see a black mold forming and that’s actually a fungus which grows on the sugar.

That’s what happened to my client’s large garden in the SF Bay Area – a lot of the plants (all of which bloomed) had a coating of black soot on them. I had just taken the account over and called in an environmental pest control company to do a series of sprayings with insecticidal soap because it was more than I could handle. It did the trick but took almost a year to get it under control.

A bad infestation of white flies on Hibiscus. Here you can see the cotton threading I was talking about.

When the infestation worsens, you’ll see white cottony threading appear on the undersides and edges of the leaves. There was a row of hibiscus trees along the sidewalk in Santa Barbara which looked like they were coated with snow in August. They were stressed from lack of water and would always get a bad infestation of whiteflies. The leaves looked like they were edged with white cotton candy!

Besides on hibiscus, whiteflies are commonly seen in greenhouses and on tomatoes and flowering plants.

How To Control Spider Mites and Whiteflies

1) Release predators like ladybugs.

Release ladybugs or lacewings in your garden as a method of control. Lacewings devour soft-bodied insects much faster than do ladybugs. This obviously isn’t a viable solution for your houseplants! There is a predatory mite which control spider mites & a whitefly predator for the whiteflies. Both eat the eggs which is a good way to prevent future infestations.

2) Spray with water using the garden hose, kitchen or bath spray.

This is the method I fall back on. You want to gently blast off (no fire hose action here please) the pests & their eggs. The spray in your kitchen or bathroom will be suitable for your houseplants if you don’t have access to a hose outdoors. For these 2 pests, this method is a partial control. You’ll get the many of the adult spider mites & their eggs, but it’ll only work for getting the juvenile whiteflies & the eggs.

3) Insect killer sprays.

I don’t use chemicals so these are considered to be “natural controls”. They include: horticultural oil, insecticidal soap & need oil. Most plants can be sprayed with these but just check 1st. You can do a little research & see which would best for you.

Here are some options: insecticidal soap ready to use, insecticidal soap concentrate, horticultural oil ready to use, horticultural oil concentrate, neem oil ready to spray & neem oil concentrate. This 1 lists itself as a houseplant & garden insect killer.

4) Homemade spray recipes.

Here’s the way I’ve always made an soap/oil spray: Mix 1 tablespoon mild dish soap or Dr. Bronner’s, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil & 1 cup water. This works for a mild infestations of whiteflies although the adults will fly away.

Here’s what I’ve used to control a mild infestation of spider mites: Mix 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (white vinegar is fine too) with 1 cup of water, 1 t of baking soda & a few drops of mild dish soap into a spray bottle.

Rodale’s, a source for living naturally which I’ve known about & respected for a long time, has a recipe for this natural pest spray with garlic, onion & cayenne pepper.

5) Sticky Traps

I used sticky yellow traps to get the adult whiteflies. Hang them in or right next to the infested plants. The color yellow attracts whiteflies. They’ll fly right into the sticky traps.

Webbing on the new growth caused by an infestation of spider mites.

What You Need to Know About Spider Mites and Whiteflies

Whiteflies & spider mites can be found on the undersides of the leaves. They both have soft bodies so they’re easy to control if you catch them in the early stages. So, control these pests as soon as you see them. Once the infestation gets bad, they’re hard to get rid of. Your plant may not recover. This is especially true of a spider mite infestation.

* Ants are after the sugary residue left behind by the whiteflies. The ants will disperse once the insects are gone.

* The leaves of the plant can get sticky – that’s caused by the sugar secretion. You might see a black residue (the fungus) appear – you’ll want to get rid of that too.

* If you choose to spray as your method of control, you’ll need to repeat. Follow the instructions on the bottle as to how often. A homemade spray you can repeat every 7 days. It might take 3-4 rounds to control the pests. Make sure the plant isn’t stressed (ie bone dry) before spraying. And, don’t spray in the hot sun.

It’s very, very, very important to spray the undersides of the leaves thoroughly.

That’s where these pests hang out. Be sure to inspect any new plants you bring home to make sure they’re not carrying any pests. The same goes for plants which have summered outdoors. Check them for pests before bringing them in for the colder months.

Hopefully, your plants never get spider mites or whiteflies, but if they do, now you can identify them and take action.

Be sure to check out these other pest posts: aphids & mealybugs as well as scale & thrips.

Happy (pest free) gardening & thanks for stopping by,

What is the best natural way to kill spider mites on plants? My neighbor tried a pesticide from the hardware store but it didn’t help. I want to try something different that won’t hurt bees or beneficial insects.

Stephanie Wilson, Portland, OR

Unfortunately, spider mites are sometimes resistant to pesticides. And pesticides often harm more than their intended target. When growing vegetables in pots, you may be more susceptible to this problem.

There is more than one natural way to kill spider mites on your plants. One easy method is to mix one part rubbing alcohol with one part water, then spray the leaves. The alcohol will kill the mites without harming the plants.

Another natural solution to get rid of these tiny pests is to use liquid dish soap. The soap suffocates the mites without harming the plants where they live. The recipe for how to make the mix is in this article about the best natural way to kill spider mites on plants here.

Neem oil is another natural mite killer that won’t harm beneficial insects. It’s safe to use on vegetables that grow in shade and fruits as well as houseplants. Some people mix neem oil with dish soap for even better results.

You can also protect your plants from new infestations of spider mites by dusting them with diatomaceous earth. Just be sure to use food grade diatomaceous earth instead of pool grade because it’s safe to handle. This natural product dries out the spider mites and kills them.

Finally, you can try fighting spider mites with a predator mite. There are at least three species that will decimate a spider mite infestation without damaging your plants. You can buy some of these at a nursery or garden center.


4 Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Spider Mites During Flowering

Are spider mites appearing when your plants are flowering? Use these four natural remedies to get rid of these pests without using chemical pesticide.

1. Introduce Natural Predators

A long-term solution to controlling spider mites is to introduce natural predators like praying mantis and ladybugs. Both of these bugs can be bought online and shipped to your doorsteps.

2. Spray with Neem Oil

Using neem oil is more of a preventive measure. It won’t kill the spider mites. Make your own neem oil spray by mixing 2 tablespoons of neem oil with one-quart of warm water. Give the plant foliage a good spray once the solution has cooled down to room temperature.

3. Use the SNS Mite Control Spray

Sierra Natural Science has developed a non-toxic concentrate that will help kill spider mite eggs. Spray this solution directly onto the infested areas of the plant.

4. Introduce Companion Planting

Grow pest-repelling plants like coriander and dill next to the crop that’s affected by spider mites. Chrysanthemum is another companion plant to consider because it contains a natural insecticide called pyrethrum.

Other Popular Pest Control Resources

  • How To Get Rid Of Carpenter Bees
  • How To Get Rid Of Spider Mites
  • Best Steamer For Bed Bugs

Sam Choan is the Founder of Organic Lesson. He started this site to share tips on using natural remedies at home when such options are available.

Choose your Size Above!

  • Immediate Results
  • Naturally Derived from Plant extracts, Effective and Safe
  • 100% Organically sourced ingredients
  • Non-Toxic
  • Non-Burning*
  • Anytime use from germination to harvest
  • Zero synthetic chemicals
  • No need for protective gloves or masks
  • Leaves no residue, odor or taste
  • Safe for People, Pets and Plants
  • Laboratory tested

What Pests Does It Kill?

Growers Trust Spider Mite Killer™ effectively targets and eliminates a variety of pests beyond simply spider mites. Use Spider Mite Killer to control and eliminate the following pests:

Spider Mites Two-Spotted Spider Mites Mole Crickets Red Spider Mites
Broad Mites Southern Red Mites Mosquito Larva Thrips
Aphids European Red Mites Chiggers Whitefly

What Plants Can It Be Used On?

Spider Mite Killer™ works on the following plants and vegetables plus many more- 100% Guaranteed! Spider Mite Killer™ can be used on any plant that has a mite infestation. Here are some common ones that get affected.

Cucurbits Medical Marijuana Tomatoes Grass/Lawns
Squash Grapes Pumpkins Basil
Roses Cucumbers Zucchini Hibiscus
Peonies Inpatients Cannabis Strawberries
Houseplants Peppers Shrubs Succulents

What Trees Can It Be Used On?

Spider Mite Killer™ works on the following trees and shrubs. It can be used effectively on any tree that has a mite infestation. Here are some common ones that get affected.

Apple Arborvitae Cedar Spruce
Cherry Christmas Trees Citrus Conifer
Cyprus Evergreen Juniper Pine
Italian Cyprus

Scientifically engineered, Spider Mite Killer™ is truly the ultimate, natural solution to safely eliminating spider mite infestations.

Made from a combination of natural plant extracts, Spider Mite Killer™ can be used at any time from germination through harvest. Using absolutely no dangerous chemicals.

How Does It Work?

Spider Mite Killer™ successfully kills spider mites on contact. Growers Trust utilizes its exclusive formula to offer an immediate solution to spider mite infiltration of plants and other valuable crops. Harmful chemicals have the potential to damage your crops;

Spider Mite Killer™ also causes reproductive disruption among female spider mites, leading to infertility or mites that don’t develop to an adult stage. It also deactivates any eggs and prevents them from hatching.

Spider Mite Killer™ is the most effective and safest spider mite treatment on the market!

When & How Do I Apply It?

Spider Mite Killer™ can be used at any time from germination through harvest. It is safe to use when plants are flowering or on buds and it won’t affect the taste of your harvest.

It can be used directly on the leaves of any plant such as roses, tomatoes, herbs, marijuana, cannabis, etc. It can also be used as a soil drench to effectively kill any mites that have made it into the soil.

Apply before or during a spider mite outbreak. Spray a light mist to thoroughly wet upper and lower leaf surfaces, stems and branches where pests are found.

It is best not to apply during wet conditions as this may reduce product effectiveness. If it does rain, then re-apply once the plants are dry.

For the best results, apply every 3-5 days during an outbreak to make sure to kill all adult mites and to prevent any eggs from hatching.

Spider Mite Killer™ won’t burn your plants, however, it is most effective when used during low light hours or with grow lamps turned off.

*Avoid applying product during peak sunlight, as oil-based products can cause phytotoxic effects on some plants.

Is It Safe?

Harmful chemicals have the potential to damage your crops or ruin the taste of your plants or buds.

Spider Mite Killer™ is completely safe due to its natural yet powerful ingredients. Growers Trust uses only the highest quality concentrated food grade oils.

It won’t affect the purity of the fruit, flowers, or buds of the plants you are growing.

We harvest and extract: Geraniol, Citronella, Peppermint, Cottonseed, and Rosemary oils using the cold-press method in order to retain purity of ingredients. The oils then go through our patented process called micronization and high shearing, giving our products the ability to cover a larger surface area and enabling deeper penetration into the soil, crevices of plants, insects, and pathogens. The filaments in the plant absorb our products faster compared to conventional products. Today, thanks to our patented micronization process, Growers Trust manages to provide products that work faster and more effectively. We do not use heat or chemical solvents to process any of our products . We source our ingredients from right here in the USA to guarantee the highest quality.

We do not use products called Ionic or non-Ionic surfactants.

Surfactants are compounds that lower the surface tension (or interfacial tension) between two liquids, between a gas and a liquid, or between a liquid and a solid. Surfactants may act as detergents, wetting agents, emulsifiers, foaming agents, and dispersants, Fatty Acids. Basically it is a chemical that allows the manufacturer to use less of the active ingredients to make a cheaper product.

Colorado State University

Print this fact sheet

by W.S. Cranshaw and D.C. Sclar* (7/14)

Quick Facts…

  • Spider mites are common plant pests. Symptoms of injury include flecking, discoloration (bronzing) and scorching of leaves. Injury can lead to leaf loss and even plant death.
  • Natural enemies include small lady beetles, predatory mites, minute pirate bugs, big-eyed bugs and predatory thrips.
  • One reason that spider mites become a problem is insecticides that kill their natural predators.
  • Irrigation and moisture management can be important cultural controls for spider mites.

Figure 1: Honeylocust spider mites, with eggs.

Spider mites are common pest problems on many plants around yards and gardens in Colorado. Injury is caused as they feed, bruising the cells with their small, whiplike mouthparts and ingesting the sap. Damaged areas typically appear marked with many small, light flecks, giving the plant a somewhat speckled appearance.

Following severe infestations, leaves become discolored, producing an unthrifty gray or bronze look to the plant. Leaves and needles may ultimately become scorched and drop prematurely. Spider mites frequently kill plants or cause serious stress to them.

Spider mites (Family: Tetranychidae) are classed as a type of arachnid, relatives of insects that also includes spiders, ticks, daddy-longlegs and scorpions. Spider mites are small and often difficult to see with the unaided eye. Their colors range from red and brown to yellow and green, depending on the species of spider mite and seasonal changes in their appearance.

Many spider mites produce webbing, particularly when they occur in high populations. This webbing gives the mites and their eggs some protection from natural enemies and environmental fluctuations. Webbing produced by spiders, as well as fluff produced by cottonwoods, often is confused with the webbing of spider mites.

The most important spider mite is the twospotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae). This mite attacks a wide range of garden plants, including many vegetables (e.g., beans, eggplant), fruits (e.g., raspberries, currants, pear) and flowers. The twospotted spider mite is also the most important species on house plants. It is a prolific producer of webbing.

Evergreens tend to host other mites, notably the spruce spider mite (Oligonychus ununguis) on spruce and juniper, Oligonychus subnudus on pines, and Platytetranychus libocedri on arborvitae and juniper. Honeylocust, particularly those in drier sites, are almost invariably infested with the honeylocust spider mite (Platytetranychus multidigituli). Other mites may affect shade trees such as elm, mountain ash and oak.

Another complex of mites is associated with turfgrass, including the clover mite and Banks grass mite. These are discussed separately in fact sheet 5.505, Clover and Other Mites of Turfgrass. Clover mites also are the common mite that enters homes in fall and spring, sometimes creating significant nuisance problems in the process.

Figure 2: Twospotted spider mites, with eggs.

Life History and Habits

Spider mites develop from eggs, which usually are laid near the veins of leaves during the growing season. Most spider mite eggs are round and extremely large in proportion to the size of the mother. After egg hatch, the old egg shells remain and can be useful in diagnosing spider mite problems.

There is some variation in the habits of the different mites that attack garden plants, trees and shrubs. Outdoors, the twospotted spider mite and honeylocust spider mite survive winter as adults hidden in protected areas such as bark cracks, bud scales or under debris around the garden. Other mites survive the cool season in the egg stage. As winter approaches, most mites change color, often turning more red or orange. This habit may be why they are sometimes called “red spiders.”

Most spider mite activity peaks during the warmer months. They can develop rapidly during this time, becoming full-grown in as little as a week after eggs hatch. After mating, mature females may produce a dozen eggs daily for a couple of weeks. The fast development rate and high egg production can lead to extremely rapid increases in mite populations.

Other species of spider mites are most active during the cooler periods of the growing season, in spring and fall. This includes the spruce spider mite and most of the mites that can damage turfgrass. These cool-season spider mites may cease development and produce dormant eggs to survive hot summer weather.

Dry conditions greatly favor all spider mites, an important reason why they are so important in the more arid areas of the country. They feed more under dry conditions, as the lower humidity allows them to evaporate excess water they excrete. At the same time, most of their natural enemies require more humid conditions and are stressed by arid conditions. Furthermore, plants stressed by drought can produce changes in their chemistry that make them more nutritious to spider mites.


Biological Controls

Various insects and predatory mites feed on spider mites and provide a high level of natural control. One group of small, dark-colored lady beetles known as the “spider mite destroyers” (Stethorus species) are specialized predators of spider mites. Minute pirate bugs, big-eyed bugs (Geocoris species) and predatory thrips can be important natural enemies.

Figure 3: Twospotted spider mite injury to eggplant.

Figure 4: “Spider mite destroyer” lady beetle.

Figure 5: Minute pirate bug.

A great many mites in the family Phytoseiidae are predators of spider mites. In addition to those that occur naturally, some of these are produced in commercial insectaries for release as biological controls. Among those most commonly sold via mail order are Galendromus occidentalis, Phytoseiulus persimilis, Mesoseiulus longipes and Neoseiulus californicus. Although these have been successful in control of spider mites on interior plants, effective use outdoors has not been demonstrated in Colorado. Predatory mites often have fairly high requirements for humidity, which can be limiting. Most suppliers provide information regarding use of the predator mites that they carry.

One reason that spider mites become problems in yards and gardens is the use of insecticides that destroy their natural enemies. For example, carbaryl (Sevin) devastates most spider mite natural enemies and can greatly contribute to spider mite outbreaks. Malathion can aggravate some spider mite problems, despite being advertised frequently as effective for mite control. Soil applications of the systemic insecticide imidacloprid (Merit, Marathon) have also contributed to some spider mite outbreaks.

Water Management

Adequate watering of plants during dry conditions can limit the importance of drought stress on spider mite outbreaks. Periodic hosing of plants with a forceful jet of water can physically remove and kill many mites, as well as remove the dust that collects on foliage and interferes with mite predators. Disruption of the webbing also may delay egg laying until new webbing is produced. Sometimes, small changes where mite-susceptible plants are located or how they are watered can greatly influence their susceptibility to spider mite damage.

Chemical Controls

Chemical control of spider mites generally involves pesticides that are specifically developed for spider mite control (miticides or acaricides). Few insecticides are effective for spider mites and many even aggravate problems. Furthermore, strains of spider mites resistant to pesticides frequently develop, making control difficult. Because most miticides do not affect eggs, a repeat application at an approximately 10- to 14-day interval is usually needed for control. Table 1 includes a summary of pesticides that may be useful for managing spider mites.

Control of Spider Mites on House Plants

Control on house plants can be particularly frustrating. There generally are no biological controls and few effective chemical controls (primarily soaps and horticultural oils). When attempting control, treat all susceptible house plants at the same time. Trim, bag and remove heavily infested leaves and discard severely infested plants. Periodically hose small plants in the sink or shower. Wipe leaves of larger plants with a soft, damp cloth. Reapply these treatments at one- to two-week intervals as long as populations persist.

Table 1: Pesticides useful to control spider mites in yards and gardens.
Active Ingredient Trade Name(s)
acephate Orthene, certain Isotox formulations Insecticide with some effectiveness against spider mites. Systemic.
abamectin Avid For commercial use only on ornamental plants. Primarily effective against twospotted spider mite; less effective against mites on conifers. Limited systemic movement.
bifenthrin Talstar, others Insecticide with good miticide activity.
hexythiazox Hexygon For commercial use only on ornamental plants. Selective miticide that affects developing stages and eggs only. One application per season label restriction.
horticultural oils Sunspray, others Used at the “summer oil” rate (2 percent), oils are perhaps the most effective miticide available for home use.
insecticidal soap several Marginally effective against twospotted spider mite and where webbing prevents penetration. Broadly labeled.
spiromesifan Forbid For commercial use only on ornamental plants. Selective against mites and conserves natural enemies.
sulfur various Generally sold in dust formulation for control of various fungal diseases and some mites on some ornamental and vegetable crops.

*W.S. Cranshaw, Colorado State University Extension entomologist and professor, and D.C. Sclar, former research assistant; bioagricultural sciences and pest management. 12/98. Revised 7/14.

Colorado State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Colorado counties cooperating. Extension programs are available to all without discrimination. No endorsement of products mentioned is intended nor is criticism implied of products not mentioned.

Go to top of this page.

How To Treat Spider Mites On Houseplants And Outdoor Plants

Spider mites on houseplants and outdoor plants is a common problem. Spider mite damage can not only make a plant look unsightly, it can even kill the plant. It is important to use a spider mite treatment as soon as possible on an affected plant in order to keep the plant looking its best and healthiest. Keep reading to learn more about how to identify and kill spider mites.

Identifying Spider Mites on Houseplants and Outdoor Plants

Initially, spider mite damage will appear as small yellow or brown spots on the leaves of the plant. If the plant is badly infested, the plant’s health will suffer and it may develop completely yellow leaves and may stop growing.

Spider mite damage may also include a telltale spider web type webbing on the plant. Spider mites are arachnids and are related to spiders. They produce webs in order

to protect themselves and their eggs.

It is very difficult to see spider mites on houseplants and outdoor plants with the naked eye because they are so small, but if you suspect that your plant has spider mites, you can hold a piece of paper under the leaves of the plant and shake them gently. If it is spider mites, specks will fall on the paper that looks similar to pepper.

Effective Spider Mite Treatment to Kill Spider Mites

One natural spider mite remedy is to simply spray down the plant with a nozzled hose. The force of the stream of water is enough to knock most of the spider mites off of the plant.

Another natural spider mite remedy is to release natural predators of spider mites around the plants. These can include:

  • Ladybugs
  • Lacewing
  • Minute pirate bugs
  • Spider mite destroyers (actual name of insect)
  • Predatory thrips
  • Predatory mites
  • Big-eyed bugs

Another effective spider mite treatment is to use an insecticidal oil, like neem oil, a horticultural oil or a dormant oil. You can also try using a miticide, as this will kill them.

You should not try to use a normal pesticide for spider mite treatment as they are resistant to pesticides. Using a pesticide will only kill off the beneficial bugs that eat spider mites, which will only make the spider mite infestation worse.

Spider mites on houseplants and garden plants is annoying and unsightly, but you do not have to let spider mite damage kill your plants. Knowing what spider mite treatment works means that you can kill spider mites quickly and easily.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *