Pest Control Library: Spider Mites

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By National Gardening Association Editors

There are numerous kinds of mites, also known as spider mites, and many feed on plants. They congregate in dense colonies in webs on the undersides of leaves. Symptoms of their feeding show up as silvering or a stippled effect on the leaf top, but the precise symptom varies with the plant. Turn over affected leaves and you're likely to find spider mite webbing; if you rub the leaf it will feel gritty. Mites feed on many kinds of plants, edible and ornamental. Houseplants are a favorite target.

  • Spider mites and eggs at the base of a leaflet. Photo courtesy Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University,
  • Preventing

    Frequently inspect your plants, especially the undersides of leaves and near stem joints, for early signs of infestation. Spider mites thrive in dry conditions, so increase humidity around your plants using a humidifier or placing water trays near them. Keep your plants appropriately watered. Both over-watering and under-watering can stress plants, making them more susceptible to pests. Quarantine/isolate new plants for a couple of weeks to ensure they don’t introduce pests into your home. Regularly clean leaves and the surrounding area to remove dust and potential habitats for mites.


    Hot, dry, and dusty conditions encourage mites. Keep plants well watered and wash them off frequently. If you detect an infestation, first spray plants with a forceful stream of water to knock mites from the leaves. If the infestation persists, spray plants with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil, covering the undersides of leaves thoroughly. In orchards, buy and release predatory mites, and encourage any that are already present by not spraying insecticides.

    This article is a part of our Pest Control Library.
    This article is a part of our Pest Control Library.
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