4 Early Signs Of Spider Mites That You’re Ignoring

Spider mites wreak havoc on both indoor and outdoor plants in your home and garden.

They also cause severe damage to crops in agricultural fields. 

Controlling spider mites at the start of infestation is the key to make your plants live longer. 

But to do that, you’d need to be eagle-eyed for 4 early signs of spider mites. 

In this guide, you’ll find out what those signs are. 

You’ll also find out how to stop the spider mites from spreading and destroying your plants.

Plus, you’ll also get answers to common questions on spider mites that many homeowners ask.

Keep reading.

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Early Signs Of Spider Mites

Spider mites hate light. So, they begin with the leaves’ undersides.

You’d notice discoloration or fading of the leaves’ color at the undersides.

The discoloration will leave behind yellowish or bronzish spots on the leaves’ undersides. You’d also observe holes on the leaves.

Spider mites at leaves undersides

Spider mites are arachnids, but they don’t have fangs like spiders. 

Spider mites have a sucking organ in their mouth, which they use to suck the sap of the leaves. 

When spider mites suck the sap out of the leaf thoroughly, the leaf turns yellowish or bronzish and falls.

It’s pretty hard to spot spider mites and the damages they’re causing to your plants, especially when they’re in low numbers. 

It’s because both are away from your direct line of sight.

To check for spider mites, you’d need to turn the leaves over to check their bottoms.

Use a handheld magnifying glass at the leaves’ bottom to check for them. 

You can also hold white paper underneath the leaves. When you turn the leaves over, some mites will fall on the leaves. 

Spider mites are tiny. An adult can grow only up to one-fiftieth of an inch. It’s like the size of the period sign at the end of this sentence.

Spider mites can be orangish, reddish, or green. Both these colors camouflage them well with the leaves.

Early Signs of Spider Mites

Tiny size and mixing up well with the leaves’ color makes them hard to spot without a magnifying glass.

When you observe them under a magnifying glass, you’ll find them in an oval shape and moving around on the leaves’ surface.

If you watch the mites closely, you’ll also spot one or two dark spots on their back. 

You may also observe spider mites’ eggs while checking them out with your magnifying glass.

These spider mites can destroy flower plants and vegetable plants in your home and garden.

They can also spread in greenhouse plants pretty fast.

At the early stages of growth in spider infestation, you’ll come across clusters of webs on the leaves. 

Dead leaves and dead leaves falling off the plants are signs of spider mites spreading fast. 

Spider Mites Lifecycle

If you don’t stop spider mites early, then, given their lightening fast lifecycle, you’ll have many dead plants in your home soon.

Spider mites take only 20 days to hatch out from an egg and grown into an adult. 

In between, there are larvae and two nymph stages. 

The eggs are translucent, and they’re cylindrical. Being tiny, you can’t see the eggs with a naked eye.

You’ll need a magnifying glass.

As the fetus develops in the egg, the egg turns off-whitish.

Microscopic picture of spider mites eggs on leaf
Microscopic Picture Of Spider Mites Eggs On Leaf

When the nymphs or baby spider mites hatch out, they’ve only six legs.

They develop eight legs when they reach adulthood.

Baby spider mites start eating the leaves from the moment they’re born.

Female spider mites can live for only four weeks, at max.

A female spider mite can lay over a hundred eggs in these four weeks. 

So, for each spider mite, 100 more spider mites can spread in your home and garden!

Spider mites don’t have a season to spread. They’re active all year round. 

All they need is a lack of sunlight and a dryish place to live and breed. 

And, of course, they need plants to eat.

Outdoors, spider mites hide underneath foliage, bark, and organic debris.

Once they destroy a plant, they wait for other green leaves to grow.

Or they move on to the next plant with green leaves. 

What Attracts Or Causes Spider Mites?

Web clusters of Spider Mites

There are two causes for spider mites that attracts them –

  1. High levels of phosphorous and nitrogen in the soil
  2. Dry and dusty conditions 

Overuse of fertilizers can cause high levels of phosphorous and nitrogen in the soil. That causes spider mites in the soil.

That’s why spider mites are a big problem in agricultural landscapes.

And if you don’t water your plants, then dry conditions will attract the spider mites.

You’ll also come across spider mites in hydroponic gardens and greenhouses.

It’s a bit dry and humid in these setups, so the spider mite population can explode if you don’t get rid of them.

How Do Spider Mites Spread?

Spider mites move from one plant to another when they’re through with destroying a plant.

Lack of natural predators in your yard or garden also makes them spread fast.

They can easily hide in the soil beds for months and wait for green leaves to grow to eat them.

That’s why you’d find holes and discoloration on the leaves infested by spider mites.

Spider mites creates holes on leaves

Spider mites can also travel from one place to another by latching on to your skin and clothes.

That way, you can bring them home too!

How To Get Rid Of Spider Mites When You Notice The Early Signs?

So, you’ve spotted the early signs of spider mites. You know for sure that your plants will die if you don’t do anything.

In other words, how to get rid of spider mites?

The process of getting rid of spider mites is relatively easy and simple. 

But you’d need to refrain from using pesticides or insecticides. 

You’ll find out why in a minute, but for now, let’s look at what you can do to kill spider mites that are a threat to your plants.

Step #1 – Quarantine Infected Plants

Spider mites infestation on leaf

This step applies to potted plants in your garden and indoors. 

Quarantine the plants infested by spider mites. Take them away from healthy plants. 

It’ll go a mile to nip the spider mites from infesting other plants.

Step #2 – Water Your Plants

Spider mites are easy to kill with just water. 

Spider mites spread in your garden and home plants because you might not be watering your plants often.

That was causing dry soil beds. It’s a perfect breeding ground for spider mites.

So, the first step to kill spider mites is to water the plants. 

Ensure that you also bathe the plants by spraying water on the leaves and the stem. 

Don’t overlook the web cluster that spider mites make on stems and the leaves. Spray water on the web clusters too.

To add more punch to it, add a little bit of soap in the water.

Soapy water is a perfect homemade spider mite killer. It also kills wood mites that damage plants too.

To protect your plants from further attacks by spider mites, ensure that you keep the leaves moist by spraying water often. 

Step #3 – Clean Your Garden And Yard

Remember, spider mites live under foliage and organic debris on dry soil beds.

So, you must keep your garden and yard clean and moist. 

That’ll stop the spider mites from breeding.

Step #4 – Cut Down The Overuse Of Fertilizers

Fertilizers are essential, at times, for plants’ growth and health. 

But overuse of fertilizers is counterproductive. 

It’s not only damaging for the soil (because it shoots up the phosphorous content of the soil) but also for the plants.

Step #5 – Introduce Predatory Mites

There are many natural predators of spider mites you can use to kill spider mites.

These spider mites predators are safe for humans, pets, and plants.

They’re beneficial insects that kill many damaging pests like aphids, moths, spider mites and many more. 

You’ll also find Neoseiulus (Amblyseius) Californicus, which is a predatory mite that kills and eat spider mites.

When it comes to predatory mites, P. persimilis is also a great option.

They’ll kill any spider mites that may be left behind after the first four steps.

Or, you can let loose these predatory mites as the first step before you get on to the rest of the steps.

It works great both ways.

Predatory mites will die of starvation when there’s no spider mite left for them to eat.

Predatory mites work great in hydroponics and greenhouses where there are no natural predators of spider mites.

Step #6 – Monitor If Spider Mites Are Coming Back

As spider mites are tiny and they can easily hide, you must keep a tab on if they’re coming back.

Continue spraying water on the leaves and stems to keep them moist. 

That’ll undoubtedly stop the spider mites from infesting the plants.

Maintain cleanliness in your garden, yard, and soil beds of both outdoor and indoor plants.

The most impactful way to stop spider mites is by spraying a mixture of water and neem or eucalyptus essential oils. That’s the best natural way to get rid of and prevent spider mites.

Neem, eucalyptus, and peppermint essential oils repel mites and many types of bugs and pests.

Why Should You Not Use Insecticide Sprays To Kill Spider Mites?

It’s easy to act hasty and use insecticide sprays to kill spider mites.

But hold yourself back from doing it.

Why?

It’s because it comes with killing beneficial bugs and predators of spider mites. 

Things can get worse because many pesticides contain Carbaryl that helps spider mites to reproduce faster.

Using pesticides in hot weather can dry up the soil fast. That will lead to a spike in spider mites infestation.

Some pesticide sprays for pests can be harmful to plants too.

As spider mites are not insects, they’re arachnids, so different types of pesticides kill them.

They also have less impact on the surroundings and don’t kill all beneficial bugs.

Floramite SC is one of those miticide sprays.

But before using it, please go through the instructions on the label for your safety.

Can Spider Mites Live On Humans?

No, spider mites can’t live on humans.

Spider mites don’t bite humans. But they might occasionally bite humans to check if it’s a plant or not. 

But there are some mites that bite. You can find them in our post on microscopic bugs that bite.

The bites are very rare, painless, and without any side effects.

Spider mites are plant-killing bugs without a fang or mandible that suck the sap out of leaves.

Spider mites cannot live without plants.

Can Spider Mites Infest A House?

No, spider mites can’t infest a house if there are no indoor plants. 

If there are indoor plants in your home, spider mites will limit themselves to the plants and the soil bed.

If there are no plants inside your home, the spider mites will starve to death.

Can Spider Mites Live In Cold Weather?

Yes, spider mites can live in cold weather, even in below-freezing temperatures.

But their rate of spread is more in warm weather than in cold weather.

It means that they breed fast in warm weather.

Conclusion

Early signs of spider mites are :

  1. Discoloration of the undersides of leaves of the plants and holes on the leaves
  2. Yellowish or bronzish spots on the leaves
  3. Web clusters on the stems and leaves
  4. Live spider mites on the plants

In this guide, you’ve also found out how to get rid of them. And why using pesticide sprays isn’t a good idea to kill spider mites.

Remember, spider mites can spread fast. 

They can damage and kill plants if you don’t react quickly to early signs of spider mites.

Another mite, which is similar to spider mites, is the white mite. Also known as wood mites, these small clear bugs in the house also damage plants.

To know more, read our post on wood mites.