What are they?
A spider mite is a tiny 8 legged insect that is no larger than 1mm in diameter. They do well in warm humid environments and better indoors than outdoors. They feed by inhabiting the underside of leaves of plants and use their tiny fangs to puncture the surface of the leaves and suck the juices out of the pant. They can multiply quickly with the females capable of laying in excess of 3000 eggs in its lifetime – Wow imagine if you had 3000 screaming babies that you were responsible for feeding!. A sure sign that these critters are thriving in your home environment is small and intricate webs that form when they move from area to area in search of new feeding grounds.
What can I do to stop them?
1) Wrap the leaf that is infected which will stop the insects from spreading in their search of food. This will also help to prevent them from jumping from plant to plant and worsening the proble,
2) Arrange for a mist spray bottle containing one table spoon of eucalyptus soap per gallon of water and spray vigorously focusing your attention on the underside of the leaves which is where they hide. Be aware though that this will only help to remove the live insects but you still need to deal with the un hatched eggs. If it is appropriate, you can dip the leaf into this solution but naturally this will depend on the size of the plant.
3) An alternative to the eucalyptus soap for those that are not comfortable is to use rosemary oil as a substitute in your spray. As both are natural products, this should satisfy even the most passionate environmental green thumbs around us.
Spider Mites are a Tiny Spider
What do I do if all else fails?
As with most things gardening related, sometimes nothing seems to be working but for those pesky spider mites, the secret solution for you might lie in nature. This has worked for me and all it took was for me to do some research into the chain of nature for spider mites, who were their natural predators? The answer luckily for me was something that I had in great abundance – lady beetles. I introduced these little babies to my infected leaf and hey presto a few weeks later my problems were solved.
I hope that this helps you with your quest to control spider mites and I am interested to hear if anyone else has any other interesting tips or tricks that has worked for them so please feel free to comment.
Spider Mite Repellant
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(price as of Oct 30, 2013)