So, you need to get rid of red spider mites.
These little suckers will eat up your plant before you know it.
You’ll want to get a complete understanding of how to manage these pests in order to efficiently kill them.
In this comprehensive DIY pest control guide, you’ll learn:
- How to identify spider mites
- DIY home remedies to naturally get rid of them
- DIY repellents to keep spider mites away
- How to manage and control them
- How to prevent future spider mites
- And more
By the end of it, you’ll have everything you need to know to get rid of these pests permanently. Or at least, pretty darn close.
Sound good? Let’s go spider mite free!
What’s a red spider mite?
A red spider mite is a leaf-eater that’s commonly found in hot and dry environments. They’re known for their ability to completely destroy a plant’s ability to retain water.
Spider mites, in general, are very prevalent pests and can divide and multiply quickly. The leaf-eating mites are harmless towards humans but deadly towards plants.
Difficult to get rid of
They’ll establish a nest which is commonly seen as white webbing (hence the name “spider” mite). And will consume the plant’s water and nutrients using their piercing mouthparts.
They eat many different types of plants, shrubs, and edibles (like fruits and vegetables).
They’re extremely prevalent and difficult to kill completely. They can be found on the underside of leaves.
But sometimes they may be found on windowsills, concrete, or even on your patio or around the home! Anywhere where it’s warm and dry can be a problem.
Sometimes when you make a room hotter by raising the temperature, they come out of nowhere. You may notice them appear from places such as your basement or attic.
They attack both houseplants and outdoor plants.
The damage done is permanent and the leaves they eat will become dehydrated and wilted. To get rid of spider mites, you need to act quickly and effectively (using the right DIY remedies) to stop them.
They’ll move from leaf to leaf quickly, so you mustn’t ignore them. Your plant’s life depends on you!
Are there other colors?
Yes. The red spider mite is just one of many different colors.
Some other common garden mites colors that you may see:
- Red mites
- Green mites
- Black mites
- Yellow mites
- Tan mites
- Orange mites
They’re also known by many other names which we’ll briefly touch on later.
Are there other mites?
Yes. There are many different species of mites. There are herbivorous mites, parasitic mites, and even carnivorous mites. Most garden mites feed on plants exclusively and don’t harm humans.
However, there are plenty of other rodent mites and bird mites. These will bite humans and even transmit some diseases.
This is exactly why you need to identify the type of mite you’re dealing with:
- Is it a garden mite? Or is it a parasitic mite?
- What color are they?
- Do you only see them on your plants?
- Where did you first notice them?
- Do you see them anywhere else?
- Are they inside or outside your home? Or both?
- Are they really spider mites? Could they be clover mites? Rodent mites? Bird mites?
Spider mite appearance
Spider mites are very small, but not to the point where you can’t see with the naked eye. They come in a variety of colors other than red.
You may come across other variants like orange, green, black, and yellow. Some mites have multiple colors also.
They all have two dark spots with one on each side for their bodies. Usually, when you see one, there will be dozens more on the same plant as they breed and multiply rapidly.
Some people also refer to them as:
- Tiny red bugs
- Tiny red spiders
- Little red spiders
- Two-spotted mites
- Two-spotted spiders
- Small red spiders
They technically are considered an arachnid. So they’re similar to spiders, ticks, and even scorpions.
What do spider mites do?
They don’t really do anything except eating up plants. Spider mites that are leaf-eaters will establish a colony on the underside of a leaf.
Then they’ll build a scaffold of webbing. After this, they’ll puncture holes in the plant ant start extracting water and nutrients. This will harm the plant 100% as it’s not losing water and can’t retain it either because of the microscopic holes.
Dangerous to plants
Eventually, they can kill the plant if ignored. And they can deal some damage very quickly. Spider mites are one annoying and persistent pest.
Red spider mites are just like any other spider mite- they feed on your plant. They can and will eventually kill the plant or do a ton of damage if you ignore it.
The process for exterminating red spider mites is the same as any other color- green or yellow or black. The color doesn’t matter- but the type of mite does. Be sure you’re dealing specifically with plant mites and not rodent or bird mites.
Once you’ve identified the mite type, you can take the proper actions to get rid of them!
Spider mite life cycle
Spider mites prefer warmer temperatures and can expand to a full colony fast. They start out as larvae that hatch and complete their full development to an adult in just 1-2 weeks.
With higher temperatures, they hatch and develop quicker. Provided that spider mites prefer temperatures above 93F, these pests will multiply quickly.
From egg to larvae to nymph
After hatching, the tiny larvae will start to establish their colonies on leaves. They usually start on the bottom side to shield them from predators and sunlight.
They’ll start by building colonies of spider webs on the leaf. And then use this webbing to develop their nest and food source.
They’ll start to feed on the leaf and extract food and water.
Establishing a nest
They have piercing mouthpieces which they use to extract their food and water. The needle-like piercers poke microscopic holes in the leaves which cause the plant to lose water.
This will shock the plant and force the plant to close up all its stomata. The plant is trying to conserve water. But this is futile because the plant will continue to leak moisture due to punctures.
Webbing and mite mating
Spider mites will then continue to feed as they develop from larvae to adult. Sexual maturity occurs within just a few weeks. The colony then expands to other parts of the plant (leaves, stems, and branches).
The plant will then become bronzed with layers of webbing. The plant may also appear stressed and dry as if it were in a drought.
Some plants such as azaleas may become distorted in appearance. Other plants such as vegetables and bedding plants may completely become dehydrated.
The cycle then repeats over and over.
What temperature do they perish at?
They thrive in temperatures that are at least over 80F. They actually prefer higher temperatures and hot and dry environments.
Once you start hitting the early triple digits, they’ll start digging into the plant to extract more water and hide from the sun.
They’re already on the underside of leaves to shade their bodies from the sun.
Does cold temperature kill spider mites?
Cold temperatures can kill them especially when it drops to around freezing.
But if you live somewhere where it freezes, you probably don’t have to deal with spider mites in the first place. There are some spider mites such as spruce mites that prefer colder temperatures.
Thus, even though the day is colder, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a mite that can thrive. Again, these pests are very hardy and difficult to kill.
What plants do red spider mites eat?
There are many plants where you’ll find these mites. They’re commonly found on evergreens, deciduous trees, bedding plants, and annuals.
They prefer a hot and dry environment, especially during the warmer months.
Some of the most common plants you’ll find red spider mites on are:
- Snap beans
- New Guinea impatiens
What causes spider mites?
Spider mites are no joke. They’re actually a very prevalent pest that any gardener will recognize.
The most common source of spider mite infestations actually comes from foreign plants.
This means plants that:
- Plants you bought from a nursery
- Plants that accepted as a gift
- Or Plants that you didn’t quarantine
Any plant can be a source of spider mites and this is why you always need to put them into quarantine first. They’re very dangerous to plants. Young plants are at risk. Mites can kill a plant relatively quickly compared to other destructive garden pests.
Mites target leaves
A plant leaf is usually the main target for spider mites. Leaves have a bunch of channels called stomata that allow water transfer throughout the plant. Spider mites will attach this part of the plant and eat the nutrients.
This causes the plant’s protective casing to be punctured with many bites and thus lose a bunch of water. The plant will then close up all the stomata to protect and conserve the water levels.
But typically, most of the water has already been evaporated because of the mites.
Plants lose water and their ability to photosynthesize
Over time, the sensitive plant will dry up because all the water will be lost. This means the plant will lose its ability to photosynthesize and produce vital nutrients and energy. The mites will keep feeding on the stored water until the plant dies.
This is usually the case for spider mites. The plant can appear healthy but then suddenly turn brown or dark just days later.
You’ll see many webs covering the plant leaves all over and this is a sure sign of spider mites.
How do you know if you have spider mites?
The plant leaves will be dry or brittle. You’ll also see some spider webs here and there. The point is that it doesn’t really matter if there are just a few spider mites.
Even just a few mites will damage a plant and hurt the moisture levels. A few bites will cause stress to the plant and thus slowly erode the plant over time.
Inspecting plants for spider mites
You can physically see spider mites if you’re careful. You use a magnifying glass if needed, but they can also be seen with the naked eye even if they’re tiny.
The first thing you’d want to do is find a damaged leaf and give it ashake over a white piece of paper. This will have them fall onto the paper which makes seeing them very easy. If you see spider mites fall onto the paper, then you have mites.
This confirms that the mites are present.
- For red spider mites, use white paper.
- For white spider mites, you’ll have to use a black sheet of paper.
Easy enough right? After you shake the plant, use a magnifying glass to get a close-up view of the mites.
They come in a variety of colors other than red such as yellow, green, or even black. The color doesn’t matter as much as the mite type. You want to be sure it’s a leaf-eater.
What plants do spider mites eat?
A few things to look for are plants specifically known to attract red spider mites. They like sweet plants and fruits most of the time.
Some of the most common plants to be infested by spider mites:
- Ornamental flowers
- Most sweet fruits
- Some veggie plants
Other signs of spider mites on plants
Spider mites will eat up both indoor and outdoor plants.
There are obvious signs you can spot and try to stop them:
- White spots on leaves
- Tan or yellow leaves
- Small white or red mites that move
- Spider webbing on the bottom of leaves
- Curled leaves
- Dry leaves
- Leaves falling off the plant
These are all signs that you can look out for too so you know if your plant has spider mites. Some are more obvious than others, but most should be apparent.
What attracts red spider mites?
They want two things:
Plants provide both.
This is why your plants are a prime target for red spider mites (or any other color). Plant leaves provide plenty of moisture for them to drink and are a source of food. They use their mouthparts to pierce the plant.
Then they can extract sugary essential nutrients for themselves. They also happen to hang around plants where they have no predators. This is typically around hot and dry environments- away from the general public and other disturbances.
They actually prefer to feed on plants that have been sprayed with insecticides.
This is because other predatory bugs won’t be present. Then they’ll have nothing to fear. Believe it or not, they can feed off plants that have been sprayed with pesticides.
Where do red spider mites live?
Red spider mites live on the underside of leaves. They’re mainly found within a website established on the bottom of a leaf.
From there, they’ll feed on the plant using their piercing mouthparts.
Can spider mites live in your house?
As long as you provide them a source of food and water from an indoor plant, then yes. The spider mite needs to live and eat off a suitable plant. They can’t just live in your home on your bed, furniture, and other surfaces.
But if you have plants, they can live off of those as they infest plants both indoors and outdoors. Sometimes you may find them nearby the plant.
These mites may have fallen off or have become stranded after a disturbance:
- Watering the plant
- Shaking the plant
- Wind disturbances
- Leaf shedding
Your home also provides the proper conditions for them to live. They’re not picky. But having a roof over them away from the sun and tucked away in the corner somewhere would be perfect.
As long as they have a source of food and water from your plants, they’ll have no problem staying in your home. Of course, they live only on plants.
So if you’re afraid of finding them on your couch or bed, they probably got there through some other means of transportation. Spider mites don’t infest homes. They only infest plants that may be inside a home.
Thus, you have nothing to worry about- as long as you keep your plants indoors free from these prevalent pests.
Outdoor plants are much harder to manage. A greenhouse can simulate a better-controlled environment. But it’s still very hard to keep spider mites away from outdoor plants.
Are red spider mites harmful to humans?
Red spider mites are not harmful to humans.
Garden mites are herbivores and only feed on plant matter. They’re not interested in biting humans nor do they transmit any diseases.
There are many varieties of mites, such as clover mites, velvet mites, and spider mites.
All three of these mite species don’t pose any danger to humans.
Plant, bird, or rodent mite?
The confusion comes from other mites, such as bird or rodent mites. Although these are considered to be “mites,” they will bite and transmit diseases to humans.
So it really depends on the specific mite you’re dealing with:
- If you’re facing plant-based garden mites, they’re harmless.
- If you’re facing a rodent or carnivorous/parasitic mite, then yes, they’re harmful. These ones may bite and transmit diseases.
That’s why it’s important to distinguish between the exact type of mite you’re dealing with. You’ll want to be sure the red spider mites are garden mites and not something else such as a rodent mite.
This just may save you from catching a nasty disease or get your hand bitten by mite bites.
For the purpose of this DIY pest control guide, we’ll be focusing on red spider mites exclusively. If you think you have a different type of mite, you’ll want to do some additional research.
We’re not here to talk about rodent or bird mites- that’s a topic for a different article.
The gist of it is: Spider mites don’t harm people. But they harm plants.
But they are dangerous to your plants. This is why you need to get rid of them quickly and as soon as possible as they can wreak havoc on your plants.
This doesn’t mean to go all in carelessly. You should still wear appropriate layers of protection such as a garden apron, shoes, and gloves.
What is the best way to get rid of spider mites?
There is no “best” way to fully get rid of them. The “best” way would probably be to use a combination of different methods together to see what works best for you.
Each situation is different and you’ll have to play around and experiment and see what’s effective against spider mites. Then you scale those approaches up.
For example, you may find that your situation is handled best by a combination of organic sprays and essential oils but not so many pesticides.
You’ll want it then up the ante on the oils and natural sprays and stop the pesticides.
Use what works and stop what doesn’t. It’s common sense really. But many homeowners are wasting their time and money on useless approaches.
So, you’ll need to see what’s going on in your situation and take it from there. That’s probably the “best” way to get rid of spider mites.
The process to rid spider mites
And now we get to the real meat of the guide.
The process of getting rid of them is fairly straightforward:
- Identify the type of mite you have
- Apply natural home remedies to kill spider mites
- Apply natural DIY repellents
- Practice good habits to manage and control spider mites
How to get rid of red spider mites naturally
Note that red spider mites aren’t easy to exterminate and will take some time. So be ready to act consistently and have some patience.
But you have everything you need to know where to get rid of them. So just be ready to work!
Here are some organic home remedies you can utilize. If these don’t work, read the next section for some more powerful methods.
Separate the infested plant
The first thing you’ll want to do after you notice the spider mites is to separate the plant that’s infested. Take it and quarantine it from all the other plants.
- If it’s a plant you don’t need anymore, dispose of it.
- If it’s one that you want to save, then you’ll have to separate the plant where you get rid of the spider mites.
This will help prevent future infestation to other neighboring plants. Don’t place it near your other plants. Find an area that has nothing but concrete and no other nearby plants, directly in the sun.
This is a good area to set up an infected plant for quarantine. From this point onward, you’ll have plenty of space to work with. Try a variety of techniques to manage and control the red spider mites.
This is a basic and often overlooked approach that works very effectively for infested plants. If you prune the infested leaves, you can slowly get rid of the spider mites.
And prevent them from spreading to the rest of the plant. You’ll want to do this regardless because it’ll help you control the mites. This can also eliminate a chunk of the population.
Here are some tips you should utilize:
- Cut off any items that appear to be dehydrated
- Prune off any branches that have multiple mite infestations
- Remove any dried leaves that show signs of spider mite damage or has visible pests present
- Dissect and remove any other parts of the plant that have spider mite activity or webs
This could be just a few parts of the plant or even almost the entirety of it. It really depends on how far the mites have traveled throughout the plant.
After you remove the damaged portions, you’ll want to go ahead and continue to monitor the plant.
Make sure you don’t notice any additional spider mites. If you do, go ahead and prune your plants once again to control spider mites.
Note that when you notice a leaf that has spider mite activity, you should prune it right away. Dunk it in some bleach or rubbing alcohol then dispose of it.
The following methods are to be used for plants where you either can’t prune it or you want to try to save the leaf. Otherwise, just prune!
Use a hose
A powerful hose with a nozzle can help remove spider mites and even completely kill a bunch of them. Use a nozzle with a “jet” or ”stream” feature and just blast away- of course, be mindful of the plant.
Don’t go spraying like crazy and end up hurting the plant.
Hose water with some force behind it can help remove spider mites as long as you repeat the process daily. For indoor plants, this won’t be practical at all unless you take them outside to spray.
Dish soap and sponge
Another method you can use in addition to the hose spraying is to simply use a sponge with some dish soap. The soap works similar to commercial insecticidal soap.
A lot of people like Dawn for some reason, but any kind of dish detergent works well. You don’t need anything too powerful and just a simple sponge will work.
Dish soap works well against spider mites and is easy to make at home.
Here’s how you can make your own spider mite killer at home:
What you’ll need:
- ¼ cup dish soap
- Small container
- Small sponge
- 1 cup water
How to make it:
- Using the small container, pour the soap and water together and gently stir.
How to use it:
- Take the small sponge and dunk it into the mixture.
- Apply the soapy water directly to your plant leaves, stems, and other areas you want to protect.
- Be sure to apply it to just a few parts of the plant first to see how it reacts.
- After 48 hours, you can apply to the rest of the plant if it doesn’t react poorly. This all depends on how sensitive the plant is.
Dish soap spray
This method is exactly the same as the sponge method, but this time around you’ll just be sprayed directly onto the plant.
Make it the same way using ¼ cup dish soap and 1 cup water and mixing together into a spray bottle.
Then spray the DIY spider mite killer directly onto your affected plant. Just like before, you’ll want to try this just on a few single leaves to see how they react. If the plant looks OK after 48 hours, you can apply it to the rest of the plant.
Most plants should be OK. If you notice plant burning, you can use less soap or use more water.
Here’s a video demonstrating a similar approach:
DIY sticky soap
Here’s a quick and easy recipe to create a natural soap killer for spider mites. This is another natural recipe so you can use it on your veggies and fruits without fear.
What you’ll need:
- Two tablespoons of soap (baby shampoo, hand soap, etc.)
- Two tablespoons of cooking oil (any kind)
- 1 gallon of water
How to make it:
- Mix the soap, cooking oil, and water together. You can just buy a gallon of water from the store and add the soap and cooking oil together.
- Then gently swirl the mixture.
How to use it:
- Use the gallon mixture and pour it into a spray bottle.
- Spray it directly onto affected plants daily until the spider mites are gone.
- Be sure to spray it on a single leaf first before applying it to the whole plant. Test it and wait for 48h before applying more to the plant.
- This mixture will kill other beneficial bugs, so keep that in mind.
- Avoid spraying it directly under full sun as it’ll evaporate the solution. Apply during sunset or later.
- The nice thing about this spray is that the cooking oil will drown the spider mites as the oil will stick to the plant even after watering.
- Depending on the type of oil you use and how you apply this stuff, it can be very effective against red spider mites and help kill them from your plants.
- Use organic-grade oils and soaps when possible, especially if you’re trying to stick with organic veggies and fruits.
- This also works well against some other common garden pests like aphids.
Use essential oils
There are many different oils you can test out and see which one works best for your spider mites.
But if you just want a list of some that I’ve found to be effective, here are some for you to test out:
- Chrysanthemum oil
- Eucalyptus oil
- Peppermint oil
- Rosemary oil
- Lemon oil
- Cinnamon oil
- Neem oil
- Thyme oil
To actually use the oil, you just mix it into a spray bottle with some warm water. A few drops (8-12) of the oil into a small spray bottle with 1 liter of warm water should be enough. Let the mixture cool before spraying.
To use it, just spray it directly onto your plants. The oils typically don’t harm the plant and are completely natural. You can even go full out organic essential oils to keep your entire plant pure.
This is useful if you’re planting organic veggies or fruits and you have spider mites to deal with. You can stay organic but have an effective way to kill them.
Be sure to test the solution on a small area first. If the plant seems to be OK, then apply more after a day or two.
For oils that are “softer” and not as scented, you can use more drops to increase the oil’s strength. The same applies to oils that are strong, such as peppermint oil. You can use less if needed.
Be sure to always test first and dilute with water as the oil itself is strong and can burn the plant.
Essential oils are a natural and effective way to get rid of red spider mites.
DIY spider mite pepper spray
You can make your own pepper spray for spider mites at home quite easily. Any kind of hot pepper could potentially kill red spider mites.
The most popular peppers are cayenne or jalapeno. You could also use something like ghost pepper also.
Here’s how to make your own pepper pesticide for spider mites.
What you’ll need:
- A source of hot, spicy pepper (hot sauce, cayenne, ghost pepper, jalapeno, etc.)
- A spoonful of dish soap
- 1 quart of water
- Spray bottle
- Slice of onion
- A clove of garlic
- Small container
How to make it:
- Mix the pepper, soap, onion slice, and entire garlic piece together. Stir with force. Do this using the small container
- Add the water to the mixture.
- Let it sit for 24 hours.
- Pour it directly into a spray bottle through a strainer.
How to use it:
- Shake before use.
- Spray it directly onto play leaves.
- Don’t spray the entire plant when you’re first using it. Try it on a small leaf first to see how it reacts after 48 hours. If the plant seems okay, then spray more.
- Don’t spray your face, eyes, or skin with this pepper spray- it’s powerful stuff.
- Spray it underneath leaves, stems, or directly onto the plant to kill the red spider mites.
Need oil is a powerful oil that should be handled carefully. This oil is effective against killing spider mites, larvae, nymphos, and eggs upon contact.
You can apply it directly to the plant, but be sure to do it after sunset as it can burn the plant.
You should also wash the plant after you apply the oil.
Add a few drops of neem oil to a gallon of water. Then pour some into a spray bottle so it’s easier to handle. Spray the plant’s leaves and stems where spider mites are present daily.
Attract natural predators
There are few pests that’ll help control red spider mites
Many of these are readily available all over the US, so you shouldn’t have too much difficulty attracting them to your yard.
You don’t want to try to attract a predator that’s not native to your region. This would be very hard to do (and possibly illegal if the predator is an invasive species).
Rather, just see what are the common bugs available in your yard and see what you can do to attract more of them.
Here are some common predators for spider mites:
- Predatory mites
- Velvet mites
If you can attract any of these to your yard, you may be able to help eliminate the mite problem. Ladybugs are a popular natural predator of red spider mites and are available across most of the US. they’re also very easy to attract and you can do a quick search to get plenty of resources.
Ladybugs will eat red spider mites and help you get rid of them without using any poisons. This is a safe and natural approach. You could even say it’s organic!
Here are some nice resources on attracting ladybugs:
Use predatory mites
Keep in mind that if you plan to use predatory mites, they won’t harm your plants.
These are other spider mites that eat leaf-feeding spider mites. This is why they can be very effective at controlling your spider mite population.
Thus, they’re a perfect assassin pest to send in to kill the “bad” mites. This is a natural way to get rid of the spider mites without harming your plant!
Easy to buy
Predatory mites can be readily purchased online or may already be native to your area. They’re a similar size to spider mites, but they’re usually orange in appearance and have no spots.
They’re pear-shaped and are more lustrous (shiny) than spider mites.
They eat the mites that destroy your plants
They’ll establish a nest on the underside of leaves and will start to establish a colony just like spider mites. These predatory mites will then seek out the spider mites and eat them up to control the population.
This is a natural approach because it’s basically using a natural predator of spider mites to help eliminate them.
And these predatory mites don’t harm the plant themselves
The best part about using this approach is that they’ll continue to eat up the spider mites until there are no more left. Then they’ll either move on or starve and get rid of themselves.
This means after the spider mites are exterminated, the predator mites will disappear.
Take care of your plants
Spider mites will attack plants that are already stressed. This means plants that have been neglected or underwatered.
You can help prevent spider mites from attacking your plants by doing basic plant maintenance:
- Prune dehydrated leaves
- Use a high-quality soil
- Water your plants regularly
- Use plant food
- Place your plants where they should be (partial shade, full sun, etc.)
- Don’t fertile plants during a drought
- Don’t overwater
- Mulch regularly to conserve water
- Choose hardy plants for drought-ridden locations
Other ways to get rid of red spider mites
Here are some other means that you can control mites.
But if you’re looking for additional ways to get rid of these red mites, consider using any of the following methods.
Not all of them are natural, so just something to err about before you proceed.
Does hydrogen peroxide kill spider mites?
Just like rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide also seems to work well against spider mites.
Hydrogen peroxide comes readily available in spray bottles if you don’t have one.
You’ll want to dilute it with at least ⅓ cup water because it could be too strong for the plant. Either pour some out of the spray bottle and add some water.
Or just buy a bottle of it and then mix it with water in a spray bottle. Test it out on the plant before you spray down the entire thing.
Note that while hydrogen peroxide is cheap, you’ll have to constantly apply it because it dries quickly in the sun. So it may be more cost-effective to buy a bulk bottle rather than tiny ones.
How does rubbing alcohol get rid of spider mites?
Yes, there have been many reports online of this handy DIY solution and it seems to be fairly consistent from my research.
This technique seems to work well when used correctly. Rubbing alcohol really does evaporate quickly so you need to re-apply often. That’s the only con.
But from the reports that people are raving about, this seems to be a cheap and effective solution to get rid of red spider mites.
All you need is to mix rubbing alcohol and water in equal parts into a spray bottle. Then you spray it directly onto the plant leaves.
Be sure to test in an inconspicuous area before applying to the entire plant.
Note that rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) can and will catch on fire. It’s flammable so take caution when you use it.
Does apple cider vinegar kill mites?
Apple cider vinegar has been reported to kill spider mites. You just need to use it along with a few other key ingredients to concoct a pretty potent spider mite killer.
What you’ll need:
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 drops of dish soap
- ¼ cup of baking soda
- A dash of Epsom salt
- 2-liter container
- Large container
- Spray bottle
How to make it:
- Add the water to a large container and add the salt.
- Stir until the salt dissolves.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and pour more water until it fills up the 2-liter container.
How to use it:
- Pour some into a spray bottle and spray it directly onto the plant.
- The solution is alkaline and you’ll have to wash the plant about 30 minutes after you spray the solution.
- The solution is very powerful and will shake off spider mites and their eggs.
- Be sure to wash the plant with clean and fresh water after 30 minutes. If you forget, you could harm or even kill your plant.
- This solution will dissolve the eggs and mites, so you’ll have to rinse them off.
- Make sure to get all of the solution off and wait 24 hours before you apply it again.
- Always test it on a single leaf before applying it to the whole plant to see the reaction.
Does vinegar kill spider mites?
There are some anecdotal reports that vinegar and water will keep spider mites. The combination is to mix ¼ cup vinegar and ¾ cup water into a spray bottle.
Then you spray it directly onto the leaves and let it dry. Some plants are sensitive to acidic solutions like vinegar, such as African violets. You’ll need to be careful if you have sensitive plants and always be sure to test it on a single leaf.
However, some people have had nice results with vinegar against spider mites.
Does bleach kill spider mites?
Yes. Bleach has been noted to kill spider mites and their eggs.
Bleach will pretty much kill everything, so there’s definitely a tradeoff. Some people have had their plant cuttings soaked in bleach for a few minutes to kill the mites.
Note that bleach is an extreme measure and you should avoid it if possible. Many plants are sensitive to bleach and may be harmed by it.
You should only use this method if you’ve tried everything else. There are some reports online from people saying that soaking their plants in bleach overnight didn’t harm them.
But that seems a little extreme.
ou could also try spraying the bleach onto the leaves as long as you rinse off the plant afterward. Whatever the case, do your research first. Don’t rush into this as bleach may harm your plant even though it’ll kill the red spider mites.
You should also cut off a small part of the plant to test. Do this before you apply it to the whole thing- just like any other of these approaches on this list.
What will kill spider mite eggs?
You can use any of the above to kill the eggs.
Typically the process to follow would be:
- Prune the leaf or stem that has spider mite eggs
- Dip the plant part in rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or bleach
- Dispose of safely
If you can’t cut the plant, you can make a rubbing alcohol spray to kill the eggs.
Read the above section on how to do so. The eggs aren’t that well protected so anything can kill them.
Even using a sponge dipped in some rubbing alcohol or bleach will do the trick. You just have to be careful and rinse the plant afterward.
Many plants can be harmed or burned by direct application.
How to prevent future spider mites
There are quite a few things you can do to prevent future infestations of spider mites. Basic maintenance for your plants is probably the best practice.
This will keep your plants healthy. Spider mites prey on stressed plants.
So if you keep your plants healthy at all times so there’s less of a chance that they’ll eat your plants.
Here are a few ways you can prevent spider mites.
Dust your plants
Use a duster for your plants and dust weekly.
This means literally removing the dust that accumulates on your plant’s leaves and stems. This will help prevent spider mites from eating your plants. Keeping your plants free of dust will also make it appear less attractive for spider mites to invade.
Areas that are dry and dusty are prime for spider mites because they’ll be seeking out sources of water. Keeping your plants dust-free is just basic maintenance. This will help prevent future spider mite problems from occurring
Monitor your plants
You’ll want to watch for more spider mite problems by looking for an activity and common signs of them.
After you manage the current infestation, don’t just ignore your plants and assume everything is OK. You’ll want to constantly monitor your plants with a thorough inspection at least once per week.
Constantly be on the lookout for damaged leaves, stems, and other parts of the plant for mite activity. The signs should be the same as when you first noticed them.
Be sure to check nearby plants, both indoor and outdoor plants weekly. As soon as you notice spider mite activity, start the process all over again and get rid of them.
Remove eggs ASAP
Spider mites lay eggs which will hatch into larvae.
You can see spider mite eggs pretty consistently during the summer months when the temperatures pick up. You should constantly be on the lookout for eggs, which are often found on the underside of plant leaves.
And you can take quick peeks at random plants and check their leaves for eggs.
If you notice there are eggs, assume the plant is infected and take proper escalation.
Be sure of water and spray your plants and prune off any leaves.
Both of these will help keep the population down and controlled. Once you notice there are eggs, quarantine the plant. Put the plant on its own away from the other plants.
Spider mite eggs look like small white specks on the undersides of leaves. They’re easy to spot and are coated with a sticky gel.
Just flip over any leaf and check for white specs- you can use a gift accordingly glass if needed to get a closer look. Note that if you see mite eggs, the plant is already damaged and infected with spider mites. So you’ll have to treat it like one.
Should you get rid of all the soil around an infected plant?
There’s really no need to do this as the spider mites stay in the leaves and stems- not the soil. However, sometimes the leaves are shed and fall into the soil.
And thus, there may be some spider mites crawling on the soil trying to make their way back onto the plant.
So while it’s entirely possible to have soil infested with spider mites, it’s not common. If you really want to be sure, you can bake the soil or you can remove the top layer of it off. This will minimize the chances of transplanting soil that’s infested already.
You can also try to add some compost or fertilizer to strengthen the soil before you reuse it for another plant. This will help keep the plant healthy and make it less of a target for spider mites.
Keep your plants healthy
As discussed earlier, you should keep your plants healthy and maintained. This makes them less of a target for future mites.
They eat damaged or unhealthy plants. So keeping your plants healthy and virulent will be ideal to prevent mites.
This means doing basic things like:
- Keeping them hydrated
- Receiving optimal light conditions as needed
- Planted in healthy soil that’s mulched constantly
- Use a natural repellent
You can use essential oils or the DIY soap spray outlined earlier to keep red spider mites away from your plants. Spraying essential oils or using the soap recipes can help keep spider mites at bay.
Essential oils can kill a bunch of other annoying pests like cicadas, centipedes, and even copperhead snakes. You can use these DIY repellents to prevent spider mites even if you don’t currently have an infestation.
Check out the section “How to get rid of spider mites naturally” for more details and recipes. Remember that indoors and outdoor plants are different, but they’ll eat both of them. Choose the right approach for the right plant.
For example, don’t use neem oil on indoor plants because you need to wash them. That’d be difficult unless you bring the plant outdoors.
How to get rid of red spider mites outdoors
Some homeowners have trouble with these moths appearing in some strange places. They live on plants, but they may be found in some other areas.
So I wrote this part of the guide to help address those other areas in the hopes that it’ll help someone out.
Spider mites on windowsills
Spider mites on window sills usually mean there are plants around the area. If you have plants on your window sills, this explains.
You’ll want to treat those plants exactly as how you would treat any other plant. Use a combination of the methods outlined above and see which one works best for your situation.
Make your own DIY spider mite killer. Use natural repellents. Follow the basic maintenance outlines above. Any of these should do the trick.
In the event that you have red spider mites on your windowsills but no actual plant, chances are it’s not a leaf-eating red spider mite. It could actually be a different type of mite, or maybe an actual mini spider entirely. You’ll want to try to identify the exact type of mite.
Because red spider mites only eat plants. And they live in plants. So if you don’t have any plants on your windowsill, you probably aren’t dealing with the same type of mite.
Spider mites on the patio
If you have red spider mites on your patio, they’re probably coming from the nearby plants.
They may be crawling around from a fallen leaf or were dislodged from the plant somehow (watering, spraying, wind, etc.).
And now they’re trying to find a plant to climb up on again. You can kill them by using a direct application of rubbing alcohol, vinegar, or even bleach.
No need to mix it with water because you’re not applying it to a plant. So there’s no chance for plant burn. Just spray the mites directly. You can also set up some natural repellents to keep them away from your patio.
Red spider mites on concrete
Just like on your patio, if you see red spider mites on your concrete, you can spray them directly.
Use rubbing alcohol, bleach, peroxide, or even vinegar. Anything works. And you don’t need to dilute the spray either since you’re applying directly to the spider mites.
After you exterminate them, apply some essential oil sprays or DIY soap sprays for spider mites. This will help keep them away from the concrete around your home.
What is the best product to kill spider mites?
There are many commercial products out there that say they kill spider mites.
Personally, I suggest avoiding these products because many of them contain nasty harmful residues. They’re bad for you, your kids, your pets, and the environment.
So use the methods above as they’re mainly organic and natural ways to get rid of these pests. Thus, you don’t need to resort to using something that may or may not work (and have to deal with the dangers of the chemicals).
If you really need to buy a product, buy something that’s organic if you can. Or natural. Both are preferred over synthetic.
Some that I’d suggest reviewing are:
Again, just do your research. Read reviews. Check out the active ingredients.
Some of the most effective ingredients that kill spider mites are:
- Horticultural oil
- Neem oil
Note that spider mites can survive typical insecticides (and even some sprays made just for spider mites). They’re immune to many sprays as they’re very good at hiding.
So using sprays may prove to be useless against them. This is why they’re not worth it.
You’ll end up spraying poison all over your plants possibly for nothing.
Now you still have your mite problem and you have to deal with poisons. This is why you should definitely avoid synthetic compounds when possible.
Use DIY approaches as they’re natural and safer.
Did you get rid of your spider mite problem?
Well, that’s all I’ve got for ya.
That’s nearly 8,000 words of advice here. So take what you will and go forth on your quest to exterminate these pests!
You should now have everything you need to know to help manage, control, and get rid of red spider mites for good.
With patience, persistence, and hard work, you can clear out spider mites from your plants within a few weeks. It’s not easy, but not impossible either. Just stay focused.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below. Or if you found this guide to be helpful, let me know!
Please consider sharing this with a friend who may find it handy. It’s the most you could do in appreciation =]!
Thanks for reading!
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.