It’s not all that easy to keep your indoor plants healthy, and having to deal with spider mites makes it nearly impossible. Before you can take steps towards fighting off these pests though, you should be able to identify what they are. There are several different types of spider mites: two-spotted spider mites, European red mites, southern red mites, and spruce mites.
Spider Mites 101
TWO-SPOTTED SPIDER MITES: Two-spotted spider mites are one of the most annoying and problematic. They like to infest a wide range of plants, including beans, corn, strawberries, roses, peppers, tomatoes, and so on. Most vegetables, fruit, and flowers are susceptible to being affected by the two-spotted spider mites, and to make matters worse, they’re highly adaptable and resistant to pesticides. They thrive in hot, dry conditions, so plants that lack hydration are paradise for these mites. They are small and oval-shaped, ranging from dark red or brown to yellow or green, making them fairly difficult to see. Their eggs are round and translucent.
RUSSET MITES: Russet mites are another big problem for indoor plants. These mites are tapered and wedge shaped, with two pairs of legs at the broader head end and long hairs on the tapered, back end. They are typically translucent and yellowish, tan or pink. Russet mites have piercing-sucking mouthparts and feed on the underside of leaves. The damage will start at the bottom of the plant, causing leaves to yellow, curl up, dry out, and drop to the ground. They can appear any time of the year, but are more abundant during the hot summer months.
EUROPEAN RED MITES: European red mites affect a variety of plants, particularly fruit trees. They are red (hence their name) and spherical. Because of the color of these mites, they can be somewhat hard to see on red fruits and berries. They lay many red eggs, and their young mature quickly, especially in the summer heat. When conditions are hot and dry, they can go through 5-8 generations in one year, so you should make sure to treat them thoroughly to completely remove every mite and egg.
SOUTHERN RED MITES: The southern red mite is dark red, almost a rosy brown, and also has a bulbous shape. They love to attack broad-leafed evergreens, shrubs and herbs. Unlike the other mite species, they prefer the cooler weather of spring or autumn, and thrive in humid climates. They are usually inactive during the summer, and survive through the winter as eggs.
SPRUCE MITES: Spruce mites like to infest needle-leaved evergreen plants. Their hatchlings are light green, and become darker as they shed their skin and mature. Adult mites are a dark green color, almost black. They prefer cooler, humid weather in the spring or fall, just like the southern ride mites. They lay brown eggs at the base of needles to hibernate.
Now that you have a basic idea of what these pesky critters look like, you should understand just how they affect your plants. Also, similar symptoms can be caused by pests other than mites, such as thrips, leafhoppers and lace bugs. Spider mites prefer to feed on the lower leaf surface, so be sure to check out the undersides of leaves first. The mites are about the size of a poppy seed and love to suck out the juices of your plants with a tube that they insert. This will cause water loss and drying of the damaged leaves. When spider mite feeding is severe, defoliation and you may lose of valuable crops as a result. The first sign that you’re experiencing spider mite damage is a light tan or yellowish bronzing discoloration of the underside of the leaves. Often infested areas of a field can be spotted from outside of the field as reddish or yellowish areas in the field.
Mites love hot, dry weather, so high humidity and rain can help you kill the spider mites during molting and wash them off leaves. Plants suffering from nutritional stress, particularly potassium deficiency, are more susceptible to spider mite infestation.
To make sure the pests stay away, use Green Thumb, which is designed to be used every day to protect your plants by feeding them properly. To knock out the mite population and eggs that are already on your plants, spray them with Pure 3-Way or Kapow. The natural ingredients of the insecticide in these products make it safe for your plants and your loved ones. Once you spray the mites, they are killed on contact, and transfer the pesticide from bug to bug, wiping them all out. This way, you are killing every single mite that’s infesting your plant – it doesn’t get much better than that, does it?