Spider Mite Alert

Okiedawn OK Zone 7April 10, 2012

Last year the spider mites arrived in April, but I think it was more towards the end of April.

This year they arrived even earlier. I have them on two huge potted brugmansias that overwinter in the garage all winter, but which have been out on the patio since early March.

I noticed some discolored leaves this morning and checked the backs of those leaves this afternoon and found dozens of spider mites on the backs of each and every leaf. I used a sharp stream of water from the hose to knock them off the leaves. Sometimes that works, although you often have to do it for 3 to 5 days before they give up and move to something else.

I'll keep an eye on them to see if I see fewer mites each day or not.

I do have lady bugs down in the veggie garden, and saw one on a leaf on the brug yesterday, so maybe the lady bugs will start reproducing soon and will make quick work of the spider mites.

Anyway, I just wanted to alert y'all and let you know that, at least out here in the sticks, the spider mites are up, on the move, and reproducing.

I have never necessarily been a believer in global warming, per se, as an event that is absolutely caused by mankind. I've always wondered if maybe it is just a part of the earth's natural cycle. What I do see happening, though, is that we're getting warmer earlier and earlier and having more pest bugs arriving earlier and earlier. I sure don't like it, whether it is a natural occurrence or from global warming related to mankind.

I hope the lady bugs take care of all these spider mites before they spread to my veggie garden plantings.


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

In taking a closer look at my Butterfly Bush 'Royal Red' the other day, I believe I have spider mites, too, Dawn. Sigh. Butterfly Bushes are prone to them anyway. The shrub is a little distressed anyway, because it is rootbound in its pot and I need to get it planted out quickly, along with 2 more. Spider mites were horrible last year!


    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 9:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7


They were horrible last year and I think it is because they got such an early start.

I looked at the foliage of a few plants around the brugs and didn't find them on anything else, so tomorrow I'll spray the backs of the leaves with water again and keep watching.

I know the lady bugs will multiply and take care of them eventually, but I just hate seeing the spider mites this early.

Even though they are always around, they usually don't multiple to huge numbers here until July. Last year, they reached the normal July level of infestation by mid-May. I sure do not want to see a repeat of last year. Once was enough. Actually, once was more than enough.


    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 11:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I know they like a dry environment, so last year's invasion was understandable - drought = lots of spider mites. Like you, tho, I really hate to see them get a foodhold this early in the gardening season.

I will be at it with the hose it seems, trying to send them elsewhere before they reach other plants. BBs are the worst for attracting them.

Lace bugs were another headache for me last year, and they multiply so quickly. Their favorite is the Azaleas and the Sunflowers. I'm sure there's probably more than one species, but they really "ugly" up a plant fast.


    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 8:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Spider mites are here month ago, they ruined one of the potted rose sitting on the patio. Rose plant lost all leaves. -Chandra

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 10:14AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Susan, I rarely see lace bug damage and I don't know why, but I am grateful those bugs apparently find something else around here more appealing than my plants.

Chandra, Did the rose put out new leaves? I think I would have sprayed the undersides of the leaves with neem when I saw the mites, assuming you weren't seeing lady bugs on the plants, which is unlikely that early in the year.

I hate to use neem for spider mites because it can kill the predator mites that prey upon the spider mites, but then if you have a persistent spider mite issue, it might be the lesser of two evils to spray with neem to knock back the spider mite infestation and then to buy and release (they are expensive) the predatory mites so they can deal with anything that survived the spraying with neem or that appeared after the neem was used.


    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 10:19AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Dawn--do you happen to know how spider mites overwinter? Like, do they lay eggs that hatch in spring,or go underground, or what? The reason I ask is that I have some hollies that got bad spider mite damage last summer, and this spring they have large spreading sections of dead leaves on them. But I can't see any webs or mites (plus, it's not that dry now). I can't figure out if they could be infested again/still, or if it's something else. I don't really like those hollies anyway, but they're really big and right in front of my house, so I want them to look decent until I can convince my husband to help me get rid of them.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 2:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Spider Mites attaching all almost all kinds of plants in our garden, I noticed discoloration leaves of Beans, tomatoes, marigolds, morning glory, squash etc... I used jet stream of water to wash them off, but they are coming again and again. As I am waiting for the need oil to arrive, I sprayed beans and roses with garlic barrier this morning. I hope it will control them.

What are other best control measure to get rid of the spider mites?


    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 12:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Julie, Spider mites overwinter wherever and however they can, but generally in garden debris or mulch, fallen leaves, or places like crevices in bark. Their reproduction seems to be temperature-related in terms of when it starts and when it accelerates. Once really hot temperatures arrive you can get a new generation every 5 days.

Yesterday I sprayed my poor brugs with a pyrethrin spray, though I normally avoid pyrethins because of their toxicity to felines. I chased the cats away from the brugs and made them stay away from the brugs for the rest of the day. I looked at the foliage today and could see no change. I've never had spider mites this bad on any plant this early in the year.

With the hollies, if you could post a photo of the leaves, maybe we could have you figure out what is wrong. For the most part, hollies are very pest resistant so I'd be inclined to think browning leaves you're seeing now are not related to last year's spider mites.

In future years, if you have spider mites on your hollies, you can spray them with dormant oil during the dormant season to smother any pests that are overwintering or any eggs. You also can use one of the superfine summerweight oils (they're lighter than the traditional dormant oils so less likely to damage foliage) during the growing season. The one I'm familiar with is called SunSpray but I am sure there are other brands.

Read the label carefully of any dormant oil, whether it is the regular one or the superfine summerweight one, before using because many plants that have blueish foliage can be permanently damaged by dormant oil and it will cause their foliage to be emerald green instead of its usual blue-green hue.

Chandra, There is no simple remedy that takes care of spider mites. When I was a kid, my dad used difocol (Kelthane) or liquid Sevin and every time he sprayed, the mites seemed to disappear, but then a few days later he had more of them than ever. The more he sprayed, the more mites he had in the long run. It took me a very long time to understand why this occurred. It occurred because the miticide (Kelthane) also was killing off the good bugs (predatory mites) that helped keep the spider mites under control. The Sevin killed off other beneficial insects that were doing the same thing. He finally stopped spraying for spider mites in the 1990s and had less trouble with them after that than back in the years when he sprayed.

So, if you choose to use a miticide, be aware it also will kill the beneficial mites. If you choose to use a broad-spectrum pesticide, understand it could kill your beneficials. Also, read any product label carefully. Most insecticides do not kill spider mites because they are not insects, they are arachnids. I bet there are some multi-purpose pesticides out there that contain both an insecticide and a miticide, but that's just a "guess". I bet it is a good guess though.

For ornamental plants, there is a product called Avid that you could use on anything that's not edible, as long as the Avid label doesn't specifically list the plant and state not to use it on that plant. It is a pretty pricey solution.

For edibles, I try to start with the least toxic and least invasive remedy for spider mites, and work my way up. So, I usually go in this order:

1. Try hosing them off the undersides of the plants with a sharp stream of water. Do it once every 3 days until you've done it three times. If they are still there, move on to the next step. There's some water wands like Bug Blaster made specifically for this because they make it easier to direct the spray of the water up underneath the bottom of the leaves. You might want to google this method and see if scientific backs up its efficacy to your satisfaction. In my experience, it is most effective very early in the season most years, but not after that. This year, I tried it and it hasn't done a thing for my plants. It might knock off the mites, but they are back by the next day.

2. Try spraying the foliage with the least toxic spray you have handy--neem oil or insecticidal soap.

3. If those two methods don't work and if your lady bugs are not controlling the spider mites, try spraying with a pyrethrin spray. I use one that contains pyrethrin and neem oil. They's also one that contains pyrethrin and canola oil.

4. Try a botanical insecticide. (See linked page below because it features some of them.)

5. Try a superfine summerweight oil. Test on one plant of any given veggie or flower, wait 48 hours and check for damage, and then use on rest of plants if you do not see damage. These can cause damage if used on plants that are drought-stressed or if used at high temperatures (above 90 degrees). You also can try a wettable sulphur powder, but only in cool temps and only after testing it once on a plant and waiting 48 hours to see if damage appears. Sulphur can cause foliar burns pretty easily, so I generally don't use it, but it is an option.

6. In addition to the above, try a repellent spray. I have better luck with Hot Pepper Wax than with Garlic Barrier when it comes to spider mites.

7. The final thing I would try (and I am almost to this point) before resorting to the use of a stronger synthetic chemical would be a Spinosad spray. I haven't tried this and have no idea if it would work on spider mites, but in general, I have found Spinosad works well on a wide variety of insects although I have no idea if it works on mites.

8. A great potential solution on paper is to buy and release predatory mites that prey upon the spider mites. I haven't tried this. There's also a beetle (I think it is a beetle) called Spider Mite Destroyers. Both can be purchased and released. I haven't checked any published research to see how effective they are or aren't, and they are both pretty expensive. Of course, if they work, it is worth the price to save your plants.

9. Kelthane or any other miticide would be the next step. Be sure to do your research. I don't think I would resort to Kelthane because I saw it fail my dad many times. Also, I tend to avoid synthetic chemicals.

  1. As a last resort, strip off the worst of the affected leaves, bag them in a zip lock bag, zip it shut, put it in the household trash, and dispose of them this way. That would reduce the number your plant had to deal with. After removing the most heavily infested foliage, spray the remaining with the spray of your choice from the above list.

My personal opinion is that an individual's success in fighting spider mites will be highly variable depending on how many spider mites infest the property around them. If you're in a rural area surrounded by pastures, meadows or woodlands full of them, it is doubtful you'll ever really get rid of them. I speak from experience. I honestly don't have much faith in anything you do to fight spider mites if you're surrounded by acreage infested heavily with them. They are so bad here that they even infest the blades of bermuda grass and Johnson grass during hot, dry summers. This spring, we had them on our otherwise gorgeous winter rye grass. It is crazy.

Part of the problem is they can produce a new generation every 5 days, so you have to be just as persistent in fighting them as they are persistent in reproducing.

I'm linking the page form Planet Natural's website that deals with spider mite control. At the bottom of the page, they should have a listing of all the products they sell that may help control spider mites. They have pages like this for many pests and I generally find their info very helpful.


Here is a link that might be useful: Spider Mite Control Tips From Planet Natural

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 9:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

So IF it rains...which it did here last nite...and you're using organic and eco-friendly ways to fight the problem, do you re-spray after the rain?

Sprayed w/BT last nite....and although I LOVE the rain, I wish it had a full 24 to dry before Mother Nature washed everything.

Paula (who is experiencing the spider-mites on newly rooted family heirloom rose bushes)

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 10:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you for the great tips. I will try one by one. I hope they will go out of my garden soon. -Chandra

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 11:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Paula, I would respray if the bottle directions say that you can or should. I don't remember if Bt 'kurstaki' for caterpillars can be resprayed right away or not, and I am not sure how much of it the rain would wash away. I think a lot would depend of whether it was a good hard rain or a light rain. I'd follow the label directions. While Bt can be sprayed at regular intervals, I don't know if it would hurt to respray it too soon.

The spider mites on the newly rooted family heirloom rose bushes are bad news. If you've already tried knocking them off the plants with a sharp spray from a water hose, I'd try neem on them as soon as possible. I really like neem oil, but you have to be careful when using it in really hot weather. Since we're having nice, cool weather, the neem might knock them out pretty well without you having to worry about it burning the foliage. The spider mites don't seem to reproduce or spread as quickly in cool weather, so this is an ideal time to use it.

Chandra, Good luck with the spider mites. I have them every year on my plants, but some years they are not too bad. This is the second year they showed up in April, which is really, really bad. Once you have them, they are very difficult to control. I have lady bugs everywhere, but they don't even seem like they're eating the mites. I'm seeing the lady bugs on lots of plants, but not on spider-mite-infested ones.


    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 5:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It took the mites less than a week to do some serious damage to my small container garden of tomatoes. I've been spraying them off each day since I've been back from vacation and I think that may be helping a little. It was discouraging to come home from vacation and find this :(

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 3:01AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I'm sorry to hear you tale of spider mite woes. They are my worst pest of tomatoes, and affect many other things as well.

At this point, my rows of tomato plants are spider mite vacation resorts and I am seeing mites everywhere. However, the huge population of stink bugs has arrived, making the spider mites almost irrelevant.

If I had a small number of tomato plants to protect, I'd be spraying them with garlic or hot pepper tea.


    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 1:00PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Attracting Beneficial Insects to Your Landscape
Sometimes I think many gardeners tend to overreact...
Okiedawn OK Zone 7
Where's everybody at
I guess everybody is out planting taters and onions. Got...
milky spore
I've been reading if you get rid of grubs you won't...
New subjects and thread drift
I see some threads get off topic quite often. I have...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™