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Spider mites

by Stephanie Suesan Smith on June 4, 2012

Are your plants showing yellow leaves, or even brown ones?  Do you have little cobwebs on the back of your leaves?  You may have spider mites, a common pest of ornamental plants.  These mites are tiny, almost microscopic, so they are very hard to see.  They vary in color from red to brown to green or yellow, depending on the species or the type of foliage they are infesting.

These little critters are not insects, but anthropoids.  The adults have eight legs and are related to ticks.  The larvae only have six legs.  Mites lay their eggs along the veins of the underside of leaves.  These hatch into larvae which use their piercing mouth parts to suck the water and nutrients from the leaves.  This is what causes the yellowing of the leaves.  Severe infestations can kill the leaves and even the plant.

The best way of dealing with these creatures is prevention.  Isolate all new plants for a couple of weeks to make sure no spider mites have hitched a ride on them.  Maximize the health of the plant by appropriate water, fertilization, and light.  Unhealthy plants are more susceptible to infestation and are more likely to die if attacked.

If you do get spider mites, don’t spray with an insecticide.  Mites are not killed by insecticides and you will just kill the beneficial insects that feed on them.  You must use insecticidal soap or a miticide to kill the mites.  Look for a product specifically labeled for killing mites and use that according to label directions.  Be sure you treat the underside of each leaf as that is where the highest concentration of mites will be.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Richa June 6, 2012 at 3:36 am

Hi Stephanie

Thanks for sharing this useful information. I m very fond of plants but don’t have much knowledge about insects and mites that may cause harm to them. I have observed leaves turning yellow or brown but couldn’t figure out the possible reason. Will surely try the tips you mentioned here.

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Joy from Youtube training August 1, 2012 at 8:32 pm

I enjoy gardening but I must admit that it can be frustrating sometimes. Weeds, spider mites and other insects that thrive on destroying my plants irk me. Thanks for sharing your tips!
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Kristine August 7, 2012 at 4:04 am

I’ve never really heard about spider mites so this is such an enlightening post for me. I am continuously looking for methods that will keep pests away from my plants. Thank you!
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Emilia from massage school california September 20, 2012 at 11:09 am

I was having those problems with my own plants! Thanks for the help. Prevention is always best. (:

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