How to get rid of Spider Mites
On today’s edition of Let’s Talk About Pests Baby we’re tackling the much dreaded, the horrifying, the one that makes our collective skin crawl: Spider Mites.
Spider mites are not an easy pest to conquer. They require a bit of research and a strong back bone. You will need to arm yourself with confidence, patience and a good recipe for bug killer. If you’re happy to use store bought solutions we have recommendations for them too. It’s important to note that while we recommend these products we cannot take responsibility for how you use them. Make sure you read the labels completely and thoroughly so you understand the instructions and avoid accidents. Some insecticides are not pet or kid friendly so avoid spraying when they’re around and keep them away from sprayed plants.
Now that we’ve covered the essentials let’s get into the tiny little mind of the spider mite. What are spider mites, how often do they reproduce, how do we control them, and what is the worst they’ll do?
Spider mites are arachnids– meaning they are true spiders. They are soft bodied creatures that feed on plant sap and burrow in webs along the underside of plants’ leaves. In some cases they do so with corrugated plants, spider mites may establish themselves in the spaces on the top part of the leaf where their webs and population may disguise themselves as dust.
Once you have identified potential spider mites you can begin by assessing the damage. This is where people usually begin to pray or panic. I often repeat to myself: ‘we can’t live without bugs’. Bugs are a necessary part of life but most importantly they are ubiquitous and will outlive us; all this to say put yourself back in nature– you’re working on controlling populations not eradicating them completely. It’s possible to almost completely remove bugs from plants but not guaranteed so manage your expectations and work on living in harmony rather than against the current. Remember: Bugs are friends. Trim any severely affected leaves and prep your plant for battle.
The quick solution to spider mites is to use an alcohol based insecticidal spray like Baby Bio’s Houseplant Pest Spray. The alcohol along with the insecticide will essentially dissolve their bodies (or explode if you want revenge). It will also dry up and kill most of the eggs. The only downside is that due to the reproductive cycle of spider mites and misuse of the insecticides some spider mites may be resistant to treatment. Although a little more laborious, resistance doesn’t spell defeat. Then we have predatory bugs; these little guys will come in and eat the bad mites but they’re difficult to differentiate so you gotta stay on your entomologist game. Lastly we have homemade remedies. While these can be the most cost effective and immediate, they can also cause the most damage. Use these as prevention on a sporadic basis to limit the risk of damage.
When spraying your plants with insecticidal solution make sure your plant is pruned and cleaned. A nice shower will help. Once the plant has dried completely go ahead and super soak it with the solution ensuring coverage in every nook and cranny where a mite may burrow. For added efficacy, cover your plant in a bin bag for a few hours. Once you uncover your plant air it out and offer some feed to give it strength to fight the mites off.
Predatory Bug Method
Life is circular and every cloud has a silver lining. Meet the predatory mite! Dragonfli has an array of spider mite killers. Predatory bugs arrive in sachets that contain a small amount of feed, the bugs and a temporary home. These sachets are hung on your plants like the world’s weirdest bauble and the predators begin to make their way out and onto the mites.
While this is the most eco friendly and dynamic solution, the volume of mites on your plants will determine how many sachets of predators you will need. They’re a bit pricey so be prepared to part with a pretty penny in exchange for ease of application and peace of mind. This solution is best for people with small collections, pets, or sensitivities to chemicals.
DIY Spider Mite Solution
You can create a DIY solution for spider mites by fabricating your very own insecticidal soap. The best way to do this is to mix 1 part castile soap, 9 parts water, 1 part alcohol. Essential oils are optional but not necessary. This solution works like a charm, smells great but it is not bulletproof. You will need to essentially shower the plant and scrub away all the live mites, spray it with the solution and continue applying the solution for up to 4 weeks. Adult spider mites can live up to 21 days while the nymphs mature in 2-4 days and eggs hatch in the same amount of time as the latter. It’s important to keep this timeline in mind in order to attack every possible part of the colony.
It’s worth mentioning that prevention is the best method. Keeping your plants clean and tidy will ensure outbreaks of pests are reduced. With large collections using a mister and a fan to keep dust from creating a cozy place for pests. Get connected with your plants by touching them and checking their undersides, if you spot any anomalies you may be just in time to prevent an outbreak.
Go forth with confidence and come back for more tips!