Spider mites are very tiny, usually red, bugs that damage leaves causing yellow speckles.
Identify the problem
Spider mites (also known as garden mites), including European red mite, two spotted spider mite, cyclamen mite and clover mite are very tiny pests (less than 1mm) that chew through leaves leaving a speckled appearance and pale leaves. They are so small they are only just visible to the naked eye. The red colour of the red spider mite and clover mite makes them a little easier to see. Under a lens it can be seen that they have eight legs and resemble a very small spider. They are members of the Arachnida class which include spiders.
Spider mites often produce webbing as protection from predators and this is a sign of infestation.
Spider mites can be difficult to control. Infested leaves later harden and become pale and bronzed. Under favourable conditions, mite populations build up rapidly. Early recognition and action are essential if you are to avoid problems.
Mites are most active when conditions are warm and dry. It is a regular pest of many plants indoors but can also infest berry fruits, roses, fruit trees.
To get rid of spider mites follow these steps:
- Check plants regularly. Under favourable conditions (hot), mite populations build up rapidly so early recognition and action are essential if you are to avoid problems.
- Clear away weeds in your garden as they may harbour mites.
- For best control, also use Organic Super Spraying Oil to control mites. It must be applied directly to the mites as it works by suffocating them. Apply in cool dull weather and ensure complete coverage of all parts of the affected plants including the undersides of leaves where spider mites usually live.
- Organic Super Sulphur will also control mites and can give good preventative control when used in late winter. See how to carry out a winter care program when your plants are dormant.
- It is also beneficial to hose the leaves of affected pants with water to keep them cool. Mite thrive in hot conditions and 'hate' cold. Hose down your plants with a steady stream of water every 3 days for 9 days.
- On ornamentals that are still heavily infested, spray upper and lower sides of affected leaves with PLANThealth Spectrum, or Spectrum Plus.
Did You Know
Spider mites are members of the Acari (mite) family. They have eight legs, like spiders, and are related to the spiders. Spider mites tend to become a problem in hot dry weather. In optimal conditions populations can explode with a single mature female giving rise to millions of mites with a month.
The common species of red spider mite (family Tetranychidae) found in New Zealand are:
- Eurpopean red mite - Panonychus ulmi
- Two spotted mite - Tetranychus urticae
- Typhlodromid mite - Typhlodromus pyri
- Clover mite - Bryobia praetiosa