Winning the War on Spider Mites — Here's What You Need to Know

by Bill and Aby Brooks, REALTORS® 04/11/2021

 Photo by Maya A. P via Pixabay

As their name implies, spider mites are arachnids. However, most arachnids are actually beneficial in the garden because they feed on common garden pests, but spider mites enjoy no such distinction. They are terribly destructive to both outdoor garden plants and houseplants, and they are particularly pernicious in hot-climate regions because they don't go through a dormant period during winter in these areas the way they do in their colder counterparts. Because they're usually feed on the underside of leaves, gardeners often don't notice them until they've done significant damage. Unlike many other pests, the damage they do doesn't happen slowly. In many cases, spider mites can destroy a plant, particularly garden vegetables, before the gardener even knows what happened. 

Left unchecked, spider mites can kill or cause substantial stress to trees, shrubs and flowers. They feed on the internal fluid of plants, literally sucking their chlorophyll right out of them. Here's what you need to know about them:

Common Signs of Spider Mites

Signs of spider mites include white and/or yellow specks on the leaves, webbing and an overall bronzing or yellowing of the leaves. Needles may turn brown and fall off in coniferous evergreens, and the flowers and leaves of some plants such as azaleas may become distorted. 

Spider mites themselves are difficult to notice because of their extremely small size. The average female spider mite is 1/50 of an inch long, and her male counterpart is even smaller. 

How You Can Fight Back

The most essential strategy in winning the war on spider mites is to prevent them from gaining a foothold in the first place. Check any new plants at the nursery for any sign of them before introducing them to your yard and garden. Keep in mind that they're most active when it's hot and dry, so check your plants for them every two or three days during these conditions. Because they're so small, consider using a magnifying glass to inspect the underside of leaves.

Like all opportunists, spider mites take advantage of the weak, so keep your plants as healthy and strong as possible. They're particularly destructive during drought conditions, so make sure your plants are well-watered. Refrain from fertilizing during dry periods because this may further stress the plant. 

Use Insecticidal Soap and/or Horticultural Oil 

Spraying the plants as soon as possible with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil after becoming aware of spider mites is recommended. Repeat applications as necessary -- these are safe products that have little negative impact on people, pets or plants.

Constant vigilance is the most essential component of keeping spider mites from wreaking havoc in your garden. Once you get used to checking for them, it will become a simple matter of routine. 



About the Author

Bill and Aby Brooks, REALTORS®

Aby’s understanding of excellent customer service stems from her extensive professional background. Prior to earning her real estate license in 2005, along with her college degree that focuses on business and engineering, Aby was the head of purchasing, inventory and quality assurance for an OEM medical and aerospace manufacturing company. Known by her clients and fellow realtors for her tenacity, honesty, integrity, and attention to detail, as a full-time realtor, she is also appreciated for her quick response to her client’s needs. Aby has been an avid horse rider and owner since the age of eight, with her husband Billas a local firefighter/EMT they are very active within the community. Bill served as a US Army Airborne Ranger in 75th Ranger Regiment, he is a combat-wounded veteran who was awarded a Purple Heart. Bill's background as facility Manager for an International metals company and as a firefighter/EMT gives him the experience, attention to detail and the desire to go above and beyond to serve his customers. The Brooks' serve on the board of a local non-profit (501c3) that gives back to the veterans, first responders and their families. The Brooks family resides on their small ranch in Manatee County. Aby& Bill excel in all types of real estate and their passion is helping people. “We genuinely like people, growing up in Sarasota and Manatee counties and now raising our own family here, it is an absolute pleasure to share our growing area with newcomers and reminisce with longtime residents. Our area has so much to offer and it is our business to help folks buy and sell their own piece of paradise.”