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How to Get Rid of Spider Mites on Indoor Plants

Spider mites reproduce quickly and do not take long to take over your plants. These common houseplant pests also leave behind small yellow or brown specks that look like salt. Spider mites live and feed on the underside of leaves, making them hard to spot.

Spider mites infestation with web and orange speckles.

Photo by jess311 on GettyImages.

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Spiders may be creepy, but for houseplant growers and aficionados, spider mites are even creepier. These tiny red or orange arachnids target indoor plants, especially palms, crotons, and pothos.
If you see white webbing on your plants, it could be a sign that spider mites have taken up residence. Spider mites reproduce quickly and do not take long to take over your plants.
These common houseplant pests also leave behind small yellow or brown specks that look like salt. Spider mites live and feed on the underside of leaves, making them hard to spot. Here we will talk about how you can get rid of spider mites on your indoor plants.

What is a Spider Mite?

Spider mites are ectoparasitic arthropods that feed on plants. They prefer hot weather along with dry conditions, and they feed on a wide range of plants. In this article, we will specifically focus on how they affect indoor plants, but it is important to know that spider mites can also take up residency in your outdoor plants in flower and vegetable gardens if the conditions are right.
Spider mites can be red, yellow or orange, depending on species. They are tiny, but they can be seen with the naked eye.
Spider mite closeup. Orange arachnid.
Image Source:Photo by Tomasz KlejdyszSpider mites are tiny red or orange arachnids that target indoor plants, especially palms, crotons, and pothos!
Spider mites are not insects, but rather arachnids, related to ticks and spiders and are harmful to plants. Just as ticks latch onto humans, dogs and other animals, spider mites latch onto plants (the underside of leaves) and suck the juices out of the plant.
Something positive to note is that while some species of mites do attack and feed off of humans, spider mites have evolved only to feed off of plants, so if you’ve got an infestation, you don’t have to worry about throwing out your bedsheets or anything like that.
Pro Tip Icon
Pro Tip: Check undersides of your leaves!
Just as ticks latch onto humans, dogs and other animals, spider mites latch onto plants (the underside of leaves) and suck the juices out of the plant.
Spider mites attack plants through their leaves, sucking the nutrients out of them. They leave stalks behind as they feed. While feeding, spider mites create webbing, and drain the life from plants causing leaves on infested plants to turn yellow and brown. They can cover and kill an entire plant within a week or two if left uncontrolled in your garden.
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How to Identify a Spider Mite Infestation

There are a few signs to look out for when identifying a spider mite infestation. Spider mite damage is different from that of cutting insects. There won’t be a hole in a leaf, but rather large discolored areas made up of tiny dots or stippling. You may notice that your plant leaves are covered in a web-like substance as previously stated or you may notice small specks on the leaves, or if the infestation has gone further you might see leaves or whole portions of your plant start to curl and wither.

01

Webs: You may notice that your plant leaves are covered in a web-like substance as previously stated

02

Wilting or Curling Leaves: the infestation has gone further you might see leaves or whole portions of your plant start to curl and wither.

03

Bronze curled Leaves: Severe infestations can make leaves fully webbed, bronze in color, and curled.
These are the telltale signs of spider mites. If you suspect a spider mite problem, you should inspect the underside of the leaves on your entire plant for signs of spider mites. To confirm that you have an infestation, use a magnifying glass to look for the tiny orange or red spider mites on the plant.
Pro Tip Icon
Pro Tip: Use white paper
You can also place a piece of white paper under your leaves and shake or tap the leaves. It will be much easier to spot dislodged spider mites on the white paper. 
This is especially important if you have a palm or ficus tree, as these plants are more susceptible to spider mite infestations. It’s important to act quickly as during the spider mite life cycle females can lay hundreds of eggs at a time causing spider mite populations to explode if unchecked. 

How do spider mites get on plants in the first place?

The best way to prevent spider mites is to keep them away from your plants in the first place. These pests can be transported on your clothing, shoes or even on your pets.
As previously mentioned, spider mites won’t take up residency on you or your dog long-term. They strictly feed on plants, but they may be able to hitch a ride just long enough to make it from your neighbor’s apartment to your own.
Preventing a spider mite infestation can be difficult because they aren’t the easiest pests to see with the naked eye.
Pro Tip: Prevention starts when you buy your plant.
One common way that infestations start is through plants that were purchased and brought into your home. This is why it’s very important to inspect new plants prior to purchase or buy through trusted online vendors.
These pests are very small and hard to see without a magnifying glass. To keep your houseplants safe, clean your house thoroughly and regularly. Remove any houseplants that you don’t want indoors. Before bringing plants indoors for the winter give them a once over before exposing them to your year-round houseplants.

What plants are susceptible to spider mite infestations?

The best way to prevent spider mite infestations is to know which plants are susceptible to them. This will help you to identify an infestation quickly, so you can get rid of these pests before they kill your plants. The following plants are more susceptible to spider mite infestations: 
  • Palms
  • Ivy - especially English ivy 
  • Philodendrons
  • Pothos
  • Crotons
  • Alocasia
  • Other indoor plants - including cacti and succulents,
Spider mites can live on any type of indoor plant, but they prefer heat-loving plants. They also prefer plants that are close to the window, because they like warm environments. If you have one of these plants and notice tiny bugs on the leaves, inspect your house for signs of an infestation.

How to get rid of spider mites on indoor plants with chemicals

There are a few ways to get rid of spider mites on indoor plants.
If you’re really out to kill spider mites, the easiest option is often to visit your local garden center for a chemical pesticide labeled for use on spider mites. We understand that chemical pesticides make some people a little nervous, but they certainly are an option.
Common brand names of pesticides used to kill spider mites contain Orthene, Avid, and Talstar - however some of these may be unavailable and only designed for commercial use.
One of the problems with killing spider mites is that they aren’t truly insects so standard “bug sprays” will often not prevail. Pest control can be a difficult task. 

How do I get rid of spider mites naturally?

If you’re worried about the safety of pesticides around your children or pets, there are a few alternatives to get rid of spider mites on indoor plants that are a little more natural.

Natural Spider Mite Predators

The safest way to get rid of spider mites, albeit perhaps the hardest to do is through beneficial insects and natural predators. We all know ladybugs are natural predators of aphids, but to get rid of spider mites you’ll likely have to get your hands on some predatory mites or lacewings. Mites eating mites - Exciting!
While this may be the most natural solution, it’s probably the hardest to achieve unless you know of a good source for predatory mites. 
 

Insecticidal Soap & DYI

You can also use insecticidal soap to kill off spider mites on indoor plants. Insecticidal soap is a non-toxic way to get rid of pests on your houseplants. It works by killing the pests without harming your plants. It can be found at most gardening stores.
You can also try washing your plants with water and soap to get rid of spider mites. To create your own diy version mix two cups of water with one teaspoon of soap and wash your plants down with a spray bottle and damp cloth. This will kill off the pests and clean your plants at the same time. Afterward, you’ll want to rinse down your plants to ensure the soap doesn’t harm your plants.  

Neem Oil

After you’ve dealt with any pests, you can spray your plants with neem oil or horticultural oil to kill off any remaining bugs. Use a soap solution to clean up any mess caused by the pests. These sprays are safe to use on indoor plants and are often sold in gardening stores. They work by suffocating the pests. You can also use soap sprays to clean up the mess left behind by spider mites.

Conclusion

These tiny bugs are hard to spot and even harder to kill. If you see signs of a spider mite infestation, take action as soon as possible. These pests can quickly destroy your plants, so it’s important to get rid of them before it’s too late.
Luckily, there are a few ways to get rid of spider mites. You can use insecticidal soap, neem oil or horticultural oil sprays to kill off the pests. You can also try washing your plants with water and soap to clean them and kill off the bugs at the same time.
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Where to buy neem oil and insecticidal soap
Treating and maintaining your beautiful plants and garden is critical. Neverland offers a selection of spider mite treatments from vetted merchants.

FAQs on Spider Mites


What kills spider mites on plants?
Spider mites can be treated in multiple ways. You can use chemicals like pesticides or more natural treatments like insecticidal soap and neem oil.
What are symptoms of spider mites on indoor plants?
Spider mites are tiny red or orange spiders. Oftentimes, they are invisible to the naked eye unless there's a massive infestation. Some early signs of spider mites include webs or orange specks. Later stage signs of a spider mite infestation include wilting or droopy leaves and plants. Quarantine your plant and treat immediately on a diagnosis.
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