Spider mites thrive on indoor and outdoor plants. When the mites infest indoor plants, they spread to other plants in the home. The pests cause leaves to turn yellow and to fall off. Spider mites generally stay on the underside of leaves where they lay their eggs, which appear round and clear. Commercial pesticides can harm the plant and are not safe to use due to the harmful ingredients, especially indoors. Removing and killing spider mite eggs with natural methods protect both the plant and home.
Isolate the infected plants before exterminating the spider mites and their eggs. If you do not immediately place the infected plants in a separate location, all the plants in your home will become infected. When more than one plant has a spider mite infestation, they return to the plant after treatment. Place the plants outdoors or in a different room for best results.
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Spraying the plants with a strong stream of water knocks the spider mites and their eggs off the plant. The strong force of water usually smashes the eggs and kills the adults as well. The water also damages the webbing, which disrupts the egg-laying process. Place the plants outdoors and carefully spray the plants with a water hose. Continue spraying the plant during the next two to three weeks until you remove or significantly reduce the spider mite infestation. Colorado State University recommends frequently wiping the leaves with a damp washcloth to remove eggs and prevent the spider mites from reproducing.
Introducing natural predators to the plants naturally removes the mites and their eggs. Predator mites, lacewings and lady beetles feast on the eggs and pests. Purchase predator insects at nurseries, mail order or insectaries. Always ask the supplier for information about the predators to receive specific care instructions in your area. Some predator insects must remain indoors while others work best on outdoor plants. Specific predator mites also may require a high humidity level.
When plants are heavily infested with spider mites, the plant or portions of it may need disposal. Trim and remove infested leaves and stems and place them into a trash bag. Remove all leaves with webbing and spider mite eggs. Once plants appear dead or covered with mites, discard them.
- University of California; Spider Mite Management Guidelines; B. Ohlendorf; December 2000
- Colorado State University; Spider Mites; W.S. Cranshaw, et al.; November 2006
- Colorado State University Extension; Managing Houseplant Pests; W.S. Cranshaw; November 2006
- Ohio State University; Spider Mites And Their Control; David J. Shetlar