Pest tips: Spider mites & how to knock em dead

Pest tips: Spider mites & how to knock em dead

Jan 29 , 2020

Spider mites. Spider mites. Does whatever a spider mite does. Part trois of my pest treatment series will cover these bad boys. Personally speaking, they’re my most disliked pest, as I’ve had them in varying levels for 1.5 years now and have contributed to some leaf loss in my plant fam. But, they are not to feared & perfectly normal. Call me a broken record, but when you bring nature inside, you bring in all of it. Not just the leafy gorgeousness, but also the chaos.

One of the reasons mites are so hard to kill is because they’re tiny, and take a while to be noticeable. Usually by the time you know have them, they’re at infestation levels. They’re also excellent baby makers, reproducing fast, hatch already pregnant, and take a week to be reach adulthood. The lady mites can lay 100s of eggs in a few weeks, and can even reproduce asexually. I’m all for single mums usually, but not this time! They love it hot & dry, although I will note I’ve often found them thriving in 50% to 70% humidity in my place so increasing humidity won’t necessarily rid you of them. And they looooooove Alocasias something fierce. As well as Philodendron gloriosums & other velvet leaved plants.

Spotting them can be hard - they are often microscopically small. Sometimes you may notice a fine dust-like layer on your leaves. You may be able to spot tiny white dots crawling on your plant’s leaves. They may also leave fine webbing on leaves. Below are some examples of how they appear.

Note the very fine webbing and the dust like substance on the leaves

An example of extreme spider mite damage. The plant was ok though! After being chopped and nurtured back to life, it made a full recovery

These guys can damage your plants, resulting in leaf loss, so it’s easy to panic when you spot these guys. However it’s worth remembering that plants are resilient and they can bounce back even from total leaf loss. Roots won’t get damaged by these guys so if an ailing plant does lose all its leaves to mites, don’t give up! Cut the dead leaves off, pop the plant in a greenhouse (or under a clear plastic bag), and leave it somewhere with medium to bright indirect light (watching it doesn’t overheat) to recuperate.

There’s a bunch of different methods you can use. I’ll explain mine, but will caveat that this is not the only way to treat them, but what works for me:
🕸 Treat your whole collection. They spread fast and are often invisible so thorough treatment is recommended
🕸 Start by powerfully showering the leaves of all the plants to dislodge the mites with a hose, or under a tap or shower
🕸 Then thoroughly spray the leaves with your chosen pest treatment
🕸 Repeat the showering and treatment one week later, and again another week later if necessary
🕸 As a reminder, don’t panic!

My pest treatment of choice is King Hit by The Bug Boss. It’s organic, kills the adults & eggs, plus activates the plants immune response to continue fighting them off. I’ve also found Stealth, which is a specialist miticide, is highly effective. I’ve opted for Bug Boss as it’s non toxic so it’s easy for me to continually use on my ever present low population of mites, however I may choose to use miticide if I had a major infestation. Alternatively common pest treatments such as neem oil or pyrethrum can be used, however based off my own observation & anecdotally, they are not as effective and may require more uses to work.

You can buy it from Dr Greenthumbs. Enter the code lushlittlejungle10 at checkout to can save 10%. This isn’t a sponsored post - I just love this product and Scott was kind enough to pass on a discount for you guys to use!


Links to other pest tips can be found below:

Tips on understanding pests

Tips on fungus gnats

Tips on mealybugs

Tips on aphids

Tips on pest prevention

Plus more to come