Spider mites can wreak havoc on indoor and outdoor plants, shrubs, and trees. They are tiny, hard to detect members of the arachnid family that feed on plant cells. If a spider mite infestation becomes severe, they will destroy and eventually kill the host plants.
There are two prominent spider mite species in Ohio: the twospotted spider mite and the spruce spider mite. The twospotted spider mite is active in the warmer weather; the spruce spider mite prefers the cooler temperatures. Between the two, damage can be caused nearly year-round; it can be devastating.
There is good news! There are simple steps you can take to eradicate these gruesome plant predators before they get out of hand.
Below are the 5 steps to take if you suspect an infestation:Step 1: Early Detection
Early detection is critical in protecting and saving your plants from spider mites. If you notice your plants looking a little under the weather, don’t ignore it! Deteriorating or declining plant foliage can signal a spider mite infestation. Take the time to take a closer look.
Spider mites lay eggs and can spread quickly to other plants; it’s important for the health of all of the surrounding foliage that they be dealt with in a timely manner. The earlier you detect them and combat them, the less damage they will do.
Step 2: Identifying Damage There are things you can look for that will help you to quickly diagnose the possible presence of spider mites:
- Film or webbing on the underside of leaves
- Yellowing or bronzing of foliage
- Holes in foliage
- Dirty appearance
Twospotted spider mites are big offenders in Ohio and have been reported on over 180 types of field crops, ornamental plants, house plants, and weeds. If you see signs of damage on your house plants, perennials, or annual flowers, you are likely dealing with twospotted spider mites. If you notice bronzing or yellowing on a pine, sprue, or other conifer tree, the spruce spider mite is likely the villain. Conifers tend to show their decline slowly, so you may not notice the damage from the spruce spider mite until the warmer summer months.Step 3: Confirming Infestation
There is a simple preform to confirm the presence of spider mites. Hold a piece of white paper or cardboard under the plant foliage then strike it against the surface. If you see tiny mites walking across the paper, smash a few with your finger. Do you see green streaks? The pest is likely a plant feeder.Step 4: Choosing Eradication Method
Consulting with a professional is recommended when you think you have a spider mite problem. Not all eradication methods are equal; an expert can provide a treatment plan specific to your situation. Miticides are the most effective and targeted solution for spider mite infestation problems.
The following are common ways to get rid of spider mites:
- Syringing- A type of culture control, syringing uses the force of a strong jet of water to dislodge the spider mites. The issue with this technique is that the spider mites return quickly.
- Predators- There are numerous insects that prey on spider mites; Lacewigs and lady beetles are two examples. Other species of mites can also be introduced to control the spider mite population. If this method is used, the predators must be introduced long before the infestation gets out of hand.
- Insecticides- A type of chemical control, insecticidal/miticidal oils and soaps can be applied to help control the population. Insecticides kill all bugs (good and bad), so it is not always recommended.
- Miticides- A stronger form of chemical control that can kill spider mite populations within 5-7 days of application. This process is a very targeted; killing bad mites and not their predators.
Once the pests are under control, take extra precautions in order to reduce the possibility of their return.
Here are some useful tips:
- Regular syringing can keep spider mites at bay.
- If using the biological control of predators, take note not to use pesticides.
- Do not use the same miticides multiple times. Spider mites may become resilient. Seek expert advice.
Now that you know the 5 steps to squash a spider mite infestation, share the information with your friends! The more we get the word out on how to identify and approach spider mites, the more control we will gain over them, and the less damage they will do to our landscapes.
For more information on spider mites or milticides, call Ahlum & Arbor Tree Preservation at 614-876-5622 today!