Tips on Controlling Spider Tree Mites

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  • 01 of 07

    Spotting Spider Tree Mites in the Garden

    Plant disease: Spider Mites
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    Spider tree mites are among the most commonly found pests in gardens. Hundreds of different species are categorized as spider mites, which are members of the Tetranychidae family. These critters can damage plants by sucking on the tissues, mainly in the leaves. The mites often cluster on the undersides of the leaves.

    Eight-legged arachnids, they belong to the same class as spiders and are closely related to ticks. Like spiders, they will produce webbing on the plant. Spider mites come in a wide...MORE variety of colors, including red, yellow, green and brown. Some even change colors throughout the year, while others are translucent.

    Use the tips that follow to identify signs of an infestation, the common trees spider mites target and the different ways to control them.

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  • 02 of 07

    Signs of a Spider Mite Infestation

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    Spider tree mites leave visible signs of damage to trees. If your leaves develop yellow, orange, brown or gray spots, an infestation may be at work. Other signs of infestation include the following:

    • Leaf drop
    • Webbing covering the plant
    • Visual confirmation of the presence of mites
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  • 03 of 07

    Common Tree and Shrub Hosts

    Trees in the landscape
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    While any tree or shrub may fall prey to spider mites, some often serve as hosts. They include:

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  • 04 of 07

    Try Biological Controls First

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    Several different insects and arachnids are natural predators of spider mites. Encourage these helpers by limiting the use of chemicals in the garden. Natural predators include:

    • Big-eyed bugs (Geocoris spp.)
    • Gall midge (Feltiella acari Suga)
    • Lacewings (Chrysopa spp.)
    • Minute pirate bugs (Orius app)
    • Predatory mites (Phytoseiidae Family)
    • Predatory thrips (Scolothrips spp.)
    • Spider mite destroyer (Stethorus app. - a genus of lady beetle)
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  • 05 of 07

    Organic Controls

    Worker watering plants in plant nursery greenhouse
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    Horticultural oils and insecticidal soaps are organic methods for controlling spider mites. For example, oil from the neem tree (Azadirachta indica) can be used as an organic miticide. The timing of when you apply these oils depends on the product used, so consult with someone at your local garden center, nursery or extension center to figure out the right one for your situation.

    Combining a couple of tablespoons of natural soap in a quart of water provides an inexpensive and safe way to attack...MORE spider mites. Don't add extra soap, as too much may cause leaf damage. For an added punch, include garlic or cayenne.

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  • 06 of 07

    Water as a Control

    Young woman watering allotment
    Mike Harrington / Getty Images

    Spider mites attack plants that are suffering from drought, so proper watering is essential to help ward off these invaders. Water is also useful in controlling spider mite infestations on houseplants, where it is harder to bring in natural predators and the use of chemicals is undesirable. Use a faucet or hose to knock off mites and webbing, making sure to hit both sides of the leaves. You could also set it in a bathtub to help make this process less messy, if indoors.

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  • 07 of 07

    Inorganic Controls

    Pest control technician with portable spray rig using spray nozzle and hose
    Huntstock / Getty Images

    Using chemicals should be a last resort. Acaricides may be able to control the spider mite infestation, but they do not discriminate and will attack the beneficial predators also, especially the predatory mites. This will reduce the possibility of natural control for a number of pests in your garden.