red spider mites damage

Do Red Spider Mites Damage Houseplants?

Red spider mites appear like tiny white spiders that weave webs on indoor plants and are extremely destructive pests. They can prove difficult to eliminate – but worry not, you can get rid of them on indoor plants and get rid of them for good.

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Do Red Spider Mites Damage Houseplants?

Red spider mites rank among the most destructive houseplant pests. They cause heavy damage or even kill an indoor plant quickly after infestation. 

They suck the sap from the leaves of houseplants, causing them to be discolored, speckled, curled under, dried, or shriveled up.

The infested leaves of your plant will shrivel up and die and fall from the plant. This will consequently lead to the death of the plant.

Red spider mites can kill houseplants quickly; therefore, it is crucial to take fast action to eliminate them as fast as possible.

What Are Red Spider Mites?

Red spider mites are tiny bugs that belong to a broad category called spider mites that attack many different types of plants. They can be a major cause of concern for indoor plants. They appear like red spiders on plants.

They weave telltale spider webs on indoor plants, which they use to protect and crawl around the plant. Because they are small, spider mites are not noticeable until their population explodes.

You are likely to take note of the webbing on your plant first and then the mites on a closer look. 

Red spider mites thrive in warm, dry conditions. They become a problem during the winter when your dry, warm house becomes a good breeding ground for them.

If you notice small bugs crawling around your houseplant soil instead of the leaves, you might be handling a case of fungus gnats instead of spider mites.

How to Identify Red Spider Mites on Your Houseplants

Initially, red spider mite damage would appear as small brown or yellow spots on the leaves of the plant. If the plant is heavily infested, it may develop completely yellow leaves and even stop growing.

Damage caused by red spider mite may include a telltale spider web type webbing on the plant. Red spider mites are arachnids and are linked to spiders. They weave webs in order to protect themselves and their eggs.

It is not easy to visibly see a red spider mite on houseplants with the naked eye since they are tiny. Nonetheless, if you suspect that your plant is infested by red spider mites, you can hold a piece of paper under the leaves of the plant and shake them gently. 

If red spider mites are present, you will notice specks on the paper that resemble pepper.

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Red Spider Mites Life Cycle

Red spider mites multiply really quickly. When exposed to the optimal conditions, they can double their population within a few weeks.

They become fully grown in about a week after they hatch. It takes a few weeks for an adult female to lay hundreds of eggs and for those eggs to begin hatching.

Consequently, this leads to an exponential growth in their numbers over a short span of time.

How to Kill Red Spider Mites

When you notice signs of red spider mites infestation on your houseplant, it is critical to initiate the elimination of red spider mites immediately before they spread to the other indoor plants in your collection.

The number one thing you would want to do even before initiating any method of killing this pest is to quarantine the infested plant and inspect all surrounding houseplants for infestation.  This may help you contain the problem from spreading to other plants.

When it comes to eliminating this pest, there are chemical pesticides that you may consider using. However, red spider mites may develop resistance to them within a short time. Additionally, these chemicals are toxic to pets and humans. Having said that, I do not recommend using them.

It is best to consider safer pest control methods and products to eliminate red spider mites on houseplants.

Here are the best methods you can use to get rid of red spider mites infestation on your houseplants:

1. Prune and Isolate

The first step to take when you notice red spider mites on your plants is to isolate them from other plants. You can also prune out parts of the plant with visible webbing, disposing of them immediately and carefully. 

Then, use one or more of the methods below to treat the rest of the plant.

You can clean and disinfect the area where the plant was in before you moved it, as well as your hands afterward.

2. Spray With Plant-Based Miticides

Purchase some commercially available miticides that use natural ingredients to kill red spider mites while leaving the plant unharmed. Ensure you test your spray on a leaf first before spraying the entire plant.

Every once in a while, you can mix the product you are spraying so that the spider mites will not build up an immunity to it. Here is a list of effective sprays:

a) Cinnamite: This pesticide is obtained from cinnamon oil and is non-hazardous. It will not kill eggs, but it is effective for killing adult spider mites.

You can spray it on your plant every three days over a number of weeks to ensure you get all of them.

b) Pyrethrum: It is obtained from a relative of the chrysanthemum. Sometimes, red spider mite may develop resistance to it – therefore, pay attention to your plant after spraying.

c) Neem oil: You can use neem oil to effectively treat almost all types of pests. It is derived from the nuts of the Neem evergreen trees. It not only treats the problem you are having right now but also offers some repellant for new critters after. You will need to regularly re-apply neem oil since it takes a while for it to be effective.

d) Rosemary: You can dilute rosemary oil with water. It is an effective treatment for spider mites, particularly for herbs and plants you would like to harvest and eat later since it is non-toxic to humans and pets.

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3. Make Your Own Herbal Tea Miticide

You can mix one tablespoon ground cinnamon, one tablespoon ground cloves, and two tablespoons of Italian seasoning in a quart of water.

Boil the water, then take off the heat.

Once it is cooled slightly, add two tablespoons of crushed fresh garlic. Allow it to cool, then strain.

Now, with the mixture, add a splash of dish soap and pour it into a spray bottle. Shake well and spray the underside of the leaves with your miticide every three days for several weeks.

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4. Mighty Mites

You can buy predatory mites that feed on spider mites, then release them on your plants and allow them to feed on red spider mites. Sounds crazy, right? But it works wonders!

One type of predatory mites that you may consider is Phytoseiulus persimilis.

Additionally, you may also consider lacewing, ladybugs, and others to get the job done.

5. Put Household Chemicals to Good Use

If you are not a fan of commercially available miticides, you can create your own with ingredients in your medicine or kitchen cabinet at home.

Here is how to do it:

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a) Rubbing alcohol

Mix rubbing alcohol with water to spray onto your plant.

Alternatively, you can use it to manually wife off leaves.

For sensitive plants, try using 1 part alcohol to 3 parts water, and for hardier plants, try a 1 to 1 mixture.

b) Dish Soap Solution

Using a mixture of 1 Liter of warm water and one teaspoon of liquid dish soap, either mix the solution well in a spray bottle or mix it into a bucket and wash the plant with a sponge or cloth. Re-apply regularly for excellent results. 

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6. Rinse Your Plant

Hosing down an infested plant may prove beneficial in getting rid of red spider mites using room temperature water sprayed through a handheld shower nozzle. You can pay attention to the underside of the leaves.

When the mites have been eliminated, continue giving your plant a shower every once in a while. This may help prevent other pests from taking hold.

7. Consider Cutting Your Losses

Nobody wants to lose their favorite plants – however, if mites are still hanging on after you have tried everything, consider throwing out the infested plants and starting a new one after cleaning the areas that they were in.

Where Do Red Spider Mites Come From on Indoor Plants?

Red spider mites can come from anywhere, and perhaps you will never know where they came from in the first place.

However, here are a few common places where red spider mites may come from:

  • Moving your plants outside for the summer
  • Repotting plants with unsterile potting soil
  • Buying a new plant that has mites
  • Vegetables and flowers brought in from your yard and garden
  • Screens of open doors and windows

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