How To Tell If You Have Spider Mites?

The first weapon in your defense against spider mites and infestations in your house or your garden is to understand how to tell if you have spider mites. Once you can identify the bugs themselves along with the signs of their presence or infestation in your house, your battle is already half-won.

So, what’s the point of waiting? Keep reading to understand how to tell if you have spider mites infesting your houseplants and start working your way toward a home garden that is entirely free of these pesky bugs!

What are spider mites?

Spider mites are essentially a kind of mite that belongs to the arachnid family. Typically, you will find these mites on the underside and around the leaves of your household potted plants.

how to tell if you have spider mites

These bugs spin silk webs around the branches, stems, and leaves of plants and are very rarely visible to your naked eye. The reason is that these pests are extremely small and white or translucent in color. 

Therefore, spotting them becomes a difficult job. In fact, many a time, it so happens that people don’t even realize they have a spider mite infestation in their home gardens till they actually notice it through a magnifying glass or consciously watch for signs of spider mite damage! 

What do spider mites look like?

Spider mites are very small in size. Most of them measure less than 1 mm long and come in a range of hues. However, these pests are typically either white in color or lean toward lighter colors on the spectrum! These two factors make spider mites almost impossible to spot in the house. 

Spider mites

Furthermore, they produce small, spherical, initially transparent eggs that appear to be simple dots on the surface on which they are laid.

When settling down on plants and shrubs, these mites will also create silk webbing along the undersides of leaves and stems of the host plant to shelter the colony from predators. It is from this webbing that they earn their common name, “spider.”

What causes spider mites?

Typically, spider mites make their way into your house through plants. You will find that these mites thrive in environments that are hot and have low humidity levels, i.e., extremely dry conditions. Therefore, finding them underwater or on dry plants is not a surprise.

In fact, scientists have observed that environments where trees experience high drought stress, are conducive for the growth and spread of common spider mites!

Further, if you bring home one plant that has a spider mite infestation and allows it the opportunity to spread to your other plants, they will. If you’re in the habit of using too much fertilizer that contains high levels of nitrogen compounds, that will also increase the chances of creating a spider mite infestation in your plants.

While the nitrogen will be beneficial to the growth of your plant, it will also make its sap more enjoyable for spider mites. 

The general rule that spider mites follow when infesting a plant is a preference for more surface area. Therefore, the larger your plants, the more surface area they offer for spider mite populations to thrive. 

Spider Mite Life Cycle

The life cycle of a spider mite involves five different stages of life. These mites start out as eggs which then develop into larvae. The larvae then grow into nymphs and then finally develop into fully grown adult spider mites. 

What Do you need to know about spider mite eggs?

Spider mite eggs generally appear to be white spots or translucent or cream-colored spots. You are most likely to find spider mite eggs on the underside of the leaves of your potted plants. 

Over the course of a three-week span, an adult can lay up to 100 eggs. The spider mite egg will develop into a male if it is not fertilized. Fertilized eggs become female, and there are usually three males for every female.

Now, the fact that you can have over 100 spider mite eggs in your plants in just about a month is reason enough to understand the gravity of the issue that these pests will cause. It won’t be long before these spider mites are damaging your plants from the insides. 

How to tell if you have spider mites?

The way to tell if you have spider mites is to watch for signs of extensive damage to your plants. The fact is that unless you know to look for spider mites, you will never realize their presence until they have already infested your plants.

scouting for spider mite

Most spider mites are predatory mites. Here are some signs that you can rely on to tell if you have spider mites. 

Spider mites cut through and feed on the bottoms of tree leaves, but their damage is visible on the top. A spider mite infestation can usually be identified by three distinct symptoms:

  1. On the tops of tree leaves or needles, there are tiny white or yellow patches.
  2. Tree leaves and stems are encircled by silky webs.
  3. The tree has a yellow or bronze appearance in one or more sections (this happens with a heavy infestation)

A sure shot method that you can use to confirm the presence of these natural predators is to place a sheet of white paper under the leaves of your plants and simply shake it. If you observe white specks falling from the plant onto the sheet of paper, they are most likely to be spider mites. 

To further ascertain whether these specks are, in fact, spider mites, peer at them through a magnifying glass. You should remember that you can only get started on spider mite control if you know how to tell if you have spider mites!

Easy methods for control of spider mites on your plants

Use a humidifier

Humidifier

Since spider mites prefer dry and hot environments where the plants are underwater, it makes it obvious that they are wary of humid environments.

Therefore, a simple way to ensure that you don’t have to deal with spider mites at all is to use a humidifier in your homes and around your plants. These machines are easily available and will also ensure that your plants stay hydrated throughout the day.

Use a spray bottle to spray insecticides.

While you certainly should not overuse insecticides or pesticides on your plants, you should ensure that whenever you do use them, you use them in moderation and apply them in the proper manner.

Using spray bottles to spray insecticidal soaps on your plants periodically will help maximize the coverage of the chemical on your plants.

This will not only handle any existing spider mites and eggs but will also behave as a repellant to these pests! If generic insecticides don’t work, you can also use a specific miticide to tackle these pests. 

Biological control using natural predators of spider mites

Adding insects like predatory mites and ladybugs to your plant soil can go a long way toward ensuring that your plants stay free of spider mites.

These natural predators feast on spider mites and also help improve the conditions of your plants’ soil. Bugs like lacewings can also be helpful in controlling spider mite populations. 

Conclusion

For how to tell if you spider mites, your ally is strong observation. Watching for signs of discoloration to your plants’ leaves and any other signs of damage that spider mites generally wreak on plants can go a long way in taking action against these pests. After all, a stitch in time will help you save nine. 

FAQs

Why Do Spider Mites Destroy Plants?

The behavioral trait that all spider mites share is that of sucking all the sap and cells from a plant. For them, it is merely a way of survival. However, for your plants, it means a slow death. Unless you control spider mite populations in your plants, your plants will gradually wither away.

Which Is The Most Common Spider Mite In The World?

The most common spider mite in the world is the two-spotted spider mite. These mites are characterized by a wide range of colors (brown, yellow, green, and red), with the common feature of having two dark spots on each half of their bodies. 

Will Spider Mites Spread To Nearby Plants?

Yes, spider mites will spread to nearby plants if you accord them the opportunity. These mites will jump from plant to plant and suck the sap from them till they are satisfied. This is why it is essential to quarantine a plant when you bring it to your home for the first time and take preventive measures against spider mites before you allow it to stay among your other plants.