We frequently need to treat plants for spider mites. Spider mites are usually found on the underside of leaves and cause the effected leaves to be “stippled” which is many tiny dots of light color. This stippling is caused by the mite sucking the plant juices- chlorophyll from the leaves. They usually attack broad leaf plants that have a thin soft and pliable leaf (you would not expect to find them on Southern Magnolia for instance) and they love junipers.
With the naked eye, a spider mite looks like a spec of sand. They are incredibly tiny. If you think you might have spider mites, hold a sheet of white paper under the leaves of the suspect plant and tap gently on the plant. If spider mites are present, you should see tiny dark specs on the paper that will start moving after they have recovered from their abrupt relocation. Badly infested plants may have a webbing on the leaves.
Spider mites are difficult to control. Whatever method you choose, plan to do it multiple times.
- Start your treatment by pruning off heavily infested areas, put these trimmings in a plastic bag and tie shut.
- You can also try insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Soaps and oils act as physical controls rather than chemical control by smothering mites or insects.
- If you decide to try the chemical route, look for products that say they are miticides – spider mites are not insects so typical insecticides will have little effect.
- Remember to always read the entire label when using pesticides and be especially cautious if you use them near edibles.
When in doubt about a possible pest infestation in your garden or landscape, then call Living Expression Landscapes for a consultation.