Identifying and Controlling Spider Mites on Houseplants

spider mites des moines

Now that it’s winter, you may not be concerned so much about outdoor pests. But if you have houseplants or have transferred some outdoor plants indoors, you may have to deal with Des Moines spider mites.

These pests are one of the most damaging houseplant critters because failing to treat them can result in them multiplying quickly. As a result, these sap-sucking pests can do considerable damage, as well as cause defoliation and even kill plants.

Although spider mites are both ugly and annoying, you don’t have to worry about them destroying your houseplants once you know how to identify and treat the problem. If think you may have an infestation of spider mites, here are some guidelines for identifying and controlling these common pests.

Recognizing an Infestation

Spider mites get their name from the fact that they’re more related to spiders and are not true insects. As it can be difficult to see them with the naked eye, it’s important to recognize their presence. If you do see them, they resemble tiny, moving speckles. Here are some of their telltale signs:

  • Small brown or yellowish specks on plant foliage can be a clue of an infestation.
  • Holes in plant leaves are a sign.
  • Spider webbing on a plant can suggest a problem. These mites create webs for protecting both themselves, as well as for their eggs.
  • Severely infested plants can compromise the health of a plant, causing it to stop growing and have solid yellow leaves.
  • One way to know if a plant has spider mites is by holding some paper underneath the plant foliage and then gently shaking the leaves. If pepper-like specks land on the piece of paper, your plant probably has spider mites.
  • Other evidence of mite damage may include plant wilting, distortion, discoloration or streaking on leaf surfaces. In the worst cases, leaves even begin falling off.

Controlling  Spider Mites

It’s best to first use organic or natural control methods before trying to manage spider mites with chemicals.

  • You could apply plant oil extracts, insecticidal soaps or neem oil, which is an insecticidal oil used for washing plant leaves.
  • Miticides, which are chemical substances used for controlling mites or ticks, are considered to be the quickest and most effective way to get rid of them.
  • Using Plant oil extracts, insecticidal soap or neem oil is also recommended.
  • Wiping leaves with rubbing alcohol can be effective.
  • If these methods fail to work, you may need an insecticide, which is typically in the form of a liquid or aerosol product.
  • You can also find insecticides in granular form or as liquid concentrates.

Considerations and Warnings

  • The best way to avoid spider mites is to prevent them from occurring. This entails checking your plants before buying them and then keeping them away from your other houseplants, for a few days, just to be safe.
  • Only use potting soil that’s been sterilized as soil from the garden can be a breeding ground for mites.
  • Pruning off the worst branches can help in controlling spider mites on the other parts of a plant. This may be all you need to do in the case of an isolated infestation.
  • These insects flourish in warm, dry, dusty environments.
  • After munching on leaf undersides, mites move from stem to stem, traveling on a plant’s fine webbing as they increase in population.
  • They can also be spread on clothing and hands. Therefore, it’s important to thoroughly wash your hands after working with an infested plant.
  • Before you apply any type of spray, turn off any lighting in your room for an hour or more. This can make spraying and hitting mites easier because darkness can lure mites to venture out from underneath a plant’s foliage.

Some pests can be extremely challenging or even impossible to control. That’s why many homeowners hire a professional exterminator. Don’t hesitate to call Miller Pest and Termite Control. We provide high quality residential and commercial pest control services for the greater Des Moines area. Please contact us to learn more about our wide range of services.