Spider mites (Tetranychidae) is a community of 1200 species belonging to the mite category and is one of the most widespread plant pests. They can be found on the underside of the plant leaves and can be recognized by the fine web. They produce this for their own protection. The common spider mite, as it is called, is only between 0.25mm and 0.8mm in size. It comes in the colors yellow, green, orange or red and has a more pear-shaped body. The front part of the spider mite is also set up as a tactile organ, as in all arachnids. However, the fourth limb has been provided with a claw-like appendage. These spider mites have the ability to produce a thread and are therefore called spider mites in German-speaking countries.
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Spider mites as enemies of flower lovers
Flower lovers and plant lovers are not happy when they discover spider mites on their plants. They are at the same time the most common and also the worst pest. They pierce the plant with their tools on the head and suck the plant sap out of the cells.
As diverse as there are different types of spider mites, their appetite for certain plants is just as special. When it comes to the common spider mite, which is the most common in normal households, these plants are particularly at risk:
- spider plant
- indoor roses
The spider mites have a varied diet and they don’t even stop at rather rare houseplants. Special orchid spider mites (Tenuipalpus rupacificus) can even be found on orchids. Greenhouse owners are familiar with the problem that spider mites such as the greenhouse spider mite (Brevipalpus obovatus) can attack entire cultivations if they are not discovered and combated at an early stage.
Get rid of spider mites easily
Like any other living being, the spider mite needs a certain climate in which to grow and thrive. This is low humidity, which also explains the increased presence in winter when the heating air is dry. For this reason, a spider mite infested plant can be easily rid of it by watering it properly and placing it in a plastic bag that is sealed tightly. The plant does not mind this humid microclimate, it can survive for a few days. However, the spider mite does not tolerate this at all and dies off after a short time.
If you don’t want to rely on getting rid of the spider mite in such a harmless way, you can of course also buy special products. However, due to their composition, these are to be regarded as the famous cannonball for the sparrows. Means based on natural fatty acids or oils, which above all do not harm any beneficial organisms, are much gentler.
Control spider mites in the greenhouse
Greenhouse owners are the least pleased about the infestation of plants with spider mites. The greenhouse is an ideal place for the reproduction of the special spider mite, which, unlike the common spider mite, also tolerates humid air. Many conservatories can also quickly become a favorite playground for pests. The use of predatory mites has proven itself here. These can be ordered in shipping and then arrive in special containers. They are placed directly on the infested plant and can then begin their destructive work. Predatory mites eat both the spider mites themselves and their brood and after a short time they have the upper hand and thus solved the problem. Predatory mites themselves are not pests for the plants.
Preventive measures can prevent the infestation of spider mites. Above all, that would be to design the climatic conditions in the room in such a way that the spider mite does not want to spread at all. So it is important to generally ensure an optimal location of the plant. So no quiet corners where you can only come to water every two weeks, give fertilizer and water regularly, keep plants cool in winter, spray with water and do not place the plants too close together. If you regularly examine your favorites on the windowsill with a magnifying glass under the leaves, you can recognize early on when there is a need for action.
home remedies to combat it
Not every plant lover wants to treat the uninvited guests in their plants with chemicals. Grandmother’s bag of tricks also contains tried-and-tested tools that are not only easy to make yourself, but can also be made using tools from the kitchen cupboard.
- Shake 1 liter of water and 250 ml of rapeseed oil and spray twice a week on the affected plant using a spray bottle
- Mix 500 ml distilled water, 2.5 g potash soap, 2.5 ml denatured alcohol, 5 ml Algan fertilizer and is particularly suitable for banana plants
- Boil 1 soap nut in 1 liter of water and simmer for a few minutes, use for spraying
- Garlic “tea” or brew, even putting a clove of garlic in the potting soil can help
A mixture of these harmless substances can be prepared and then sprayed onto the plants infested with the spider mite. Maybe you have to find out for yourself which of the remedies works best, in any case prevention is always a good measure and this also includes:
Every plant lover repots their flowers and houseplants, potted plants and cuttings. Pots in which plants infested with spider mites have grown should therefore be cleaned thoroughly. Especially clay pots, which are too good to throw away, you have to scrub properly. Sometimes bits of root or old potting soil are still attached and it’s very tempting to ignore it. But, the new residents can come into contact with pathogens in this way, which is not absolutely necessary.
Spider mites prefer to be found in the dry environment around plants, so they can easily be put off with this weapon. You can easily create a humid climate around the infested plant by putting it in a plastic bag after watering it well, sealing it and leaving the plant in it for a few days. In a warm place, the spider mite will not survive this uncomfortable climate, but the plant will.