How to Get Rid of Spider Mites
Combat Spider Mites With Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Techniques
One of the most common pests encountered in the garden is the Spider mite. Spider mites are Arachnids, belonging to the same family as ticks, scorpions, and spiders. Spider mites have 8 legs, and are difficult to spot with the naked eye. Using a magnifying glass or magnifying loupe can be helpful in identifying a spider mite infestation, but not necessary.
Spider Mites prefer hot, dry climates, and tend to feast on broad leaf crops. The most common spider mite, the two spotted spider mite, has two characteristic spots that are caused by the food in their gut. Two Spotted Spider mites produce an extensive amount of webbing in comparison to other spider mites, such as the clover or bank grass mite.
Some tell-tale signs confirm that you have a spider mite problem:
- Spots or patches on top sides of leaves. Spider Mite damage can also include physical deformation and discoloration of the leaves in areas where the mites have fed. This is often the first sign of spider mite damage, and can worsen overtime if left untreated. It is important to do frequent plant checks to catch spider mite damage as early as possible, as females can lay almost 20 eggs per day for up to 4 weeks. These eggs tend to hatch in less than 3 days. That’s potentially 560 Eggs per female spider mite. An easy way to identify early is to shake the plant over a piece of paper, and look for black dots or specs that appear. Further investigation can be done with a magnifying glass or 15x Loupe.
- Small, silky webbing across plant tops. Spider Mites create webbing that can quickly engulf plants, and this webbing can act as a superhighway for colonies, allowing for easier movement between plants and even crops while also offering safety and shelter for mites as they settle in over a nice meal of your crops.
So, you’ve confirmed you have spider mites. Now what? Burn down the crop?
No. The answer is, fight back!
Easy ways to combat spider mites utilizing Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques:
- Cultural Control: Eliminate dusty areas/roads around crop. Spider mites thrive in dusty conditions, and simply spraying down roads with water regularly for outdoor or greenhouse crops can offer a huge advantage over invasive spider mites.
- Biological Control: Many other species view spider mites as an easy meal. Predatory mites from the Galendromus and Phytoseiulus genus are standbys, and can be relatively easily deployed and sourced. LadyBugs, Mantis, Spider Mite Destroyers, and other larger predators can also be incorporated with ease and are available at your local garden store.
- Chemical Control: Chemical controls are always a last resort, but can be effective where other methods can’t. Guard 'n Spray from Rhizoflora contains an array of food-grade oils from natural sources which can effectively combat and eliminate spider mites and their eggs. The variety of oils and mechanisms of action are also essential, as spider mites have a quick reproductive cycle and can develop resistance to some forms of control. Guard 'n Spray is a great alternative to pyrethroids and other pesticides, of which some have been shown to actually cause significant increases in spider mite populations after use.
WARNING: Always remember, as discussed in our blog article; What is Integrated Pest Management?, chemical controls should always be a last resort and can have an adverse effect on pre-existing predatory populations.
So, next time you see spider mites, don’t panic! Simply make an action plan and eliminate spider mites using Integrated Pest Management tactics.