Spider mites are garden pests that feed on a variety of different plants. There are two kinds of spider mites, European and Southern. The Southern spider mites are the most common types as European are most often found infesting apple trees. Spider mites are arachnids that are related to spiders but have smaller bodies that the average spider.
There are different signs to look for to determine if your garden and shrubbery are being taken over by red spider mites. Then you will need to take some steps to get rid of them before they destroy your plants.
There are two kinds of Southern spider mites including red spider mites and multiple colored spider mites. Red mites are more commonly found. Camellias and Azaleas tend to be the favorite plant of red spider mites. Look under the leaves for a dusty appearance and even some webbing on branches and/or leaves. With a magnifying glass, you will be able to see the dusty appearance is actually the red spider mites. They are so tiny that they trick you into thinking the leaves are just dingy looking. Eventually, after some time, the spider mites will completely destroy the plant.
When are spider mites most active?
Red spider mites are more active during the Spring and Fall seasons as they are more active during cool weather. They multiply very quickly with the female laying up to 20 eggs each day with a life cycle of four weeks. Eggs hatch within three days in the best conditions and can become adults within five days. This can lead to a massive infestation if it isn’t handled immediately.
How to get rid of red mites?
If you notice you have a problem then consider getting some natural predators that feed on these insects including the lovely ladybug and lacewings. They will serve a great advantage of preventing your garden from looking terrible by the damage caused by the red spider mites. You can purchase them from any garden supply center.
Other types of methods to get rid of the spider mites is to use an insecticidal soap that you can clean the leaves of the plant. Test on a few leaves first and check the leaves a few days later to determine if it damaged the plant even more. If the leaves remain intact then continue with the treatment.
Sometimes insecticidal soaps can be damaging to a plant depending on its sensitivity. Using pesticides could eliminate many of the natural predators of the red spider mites which could cause another problem as the mites may just leave the area they are infesting and continue onward to another area of your garden.
Red Spider Mite Prevention
Take measures to prevent red spider mites by checking the leaves of the plants often. Remove any debris around the soil, branches and leaves of the plant. Make sure they are dust free by watering every day and keeping them clear of anything that could damage them. Take measure to keep them healthy by feeding the soil as needed and keeping the areas moist. Red spider mites prefer dry areas and begin to infest a plant when it is not watered enough. Monitor your plants regularly and if you notice an appearance by red spider mites then consider the lowest level of toxic treatment and move on to something more severe if needed. Stay organic at first to see if the red spider mites will disappear.
When analyzing your plants to determine if you have red spider mites, start at the lower leaves as they start out on the bottom since they are more hidden. If you have to take spraying pesticide methods it can become time-consuming and costly as well. If you prefer to avoid the entire situation then use red spider mite predators to help get rid of them from the very beginning. If you have to make a large purchase for spider mite predators then that can be costly as well. Maintaining your plants from the start is the best way to not lose a lot of money on pesticides and predators.
If you only have one plant that appears to have red spider mites then you may want to get rid of it all together before they continue on to your other plants. It will be cheaper, in the long run, to simply get rid of it. If you see a major problem occurring then give it some time for the predators to take care of the problem. This could take some time to get rid of all of the spider mites as they multiply quickly, but as long as you are relentless and willing to spend a lot of time to remove the mites you will succeed over time in getting rid of the pesky insects.
Just keep in mind that when you have a garden you will always have to take steps in keeping away a large variety of mites and insects that will damage your plants as red spider mites are just one of the many to worry about.
Further Resources for Red Spider Mites:
Spider Mite Problems in Landscaping – University of Kentucky