How to spot and remove spider mites
Spider mites are a common problem for even the most low-maintenance houseplants, and it’s easy to send them packing.
Pests are something every plant parent has to deal with at some point. If your plant’s leaves are sporting brown or yellow spots , it’s usually a sign that creepy crawlies have moved in. Don’t be alarmed - this isn’t a reflection of your housekeeping or your gardening skills.
Chances are the last time you added to your houseplant collection, there were eggs or live bugs on the new plant’s leaves. Most pests aren’t visible to the naked eye, so the first you usually know about it is when the plant’s leaves start to get spots. Spider mites are one of the most common kinds of pests who love your plants as much as you do.
How to identify spider mites
Spider mites can be hard to see, but if you want to be sure of your diagnosis, try holding a piece of paper under the infected plant’s leaves and shake gently. If you notice pepper-like specks on the page, they’re almost certainly spider mites.
- Your plant’s leaves have small brown or yellow spots or look ‘dusty’
- You’ve tried all your usual tricks and your plant still doesn’t look healthy - think yellow, dying leaves or stunted growth
- There’s ‘webbing’ that kind of looks like a tightly weaved spider web visible on the plant
- White eggs underneath the leaves that look like grains of salt
How to treat spider mites
Luckily, spider mites are much easier to get rid of than they are to see. It might be tempting to spray a whole can of insecticide on your plants but there are more effective, non-chemical remedies that will send them packing. Give your plant a shower to remove eggs and mites, or spray and wipe the infected plant’s leaves with:
- Good old fashioned water
- A natural remedy like peppermint, garlic or rosemary mixed with water
- A gentle dish soap dilution - 1 tablespoon for every litre of water
How to stop spider mites gnats returning
Quarantine any new plants for a week or two to make sure there’s no stowaways. Because you won’t be able to see most pests, you’re looking out for signs like the telltale spotty leaves and general plant health.
Don’t let dust collect on the leaves - spider mites love it. Make sure you clean your plants regularly by gently wiping the leaves and stems with warm water. Mist leaves regularly and only use good quality compost in your pots as the premium stuff tends to be a little more sterile.
How do I stop spider mites from spreading?
Act fast and move any plants you think have mites away from the rest of your indoor jungle. Spider mites don’t do well in humid conditions so a light mist with water will help deter them.
Nobody likes the idea of having pests on their beloved plants - or in their home - but spider mites are easy to prevent and treat with humble tap water. Just make sure to check in on your plant’s health regularly.
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