Spider Mite

Tetranychus urticae and closely related species

Red spider mite webbing
Red spider mite webbing
Red spider mite webbing
Red spider mites leaf damage
Red spider mites leaf damage
Red spider mites leaf damage
Red spider mites webbing on leaves
Red spider mites webbing on leaves
Red spider mites webbing on leaves
Red spider mites
Red spider mites
Red spider mites
Usually  green but turn red as they approach overwintering state
Usually green but turn red as they approach overwintering state [Credit: Gilles San Martin ]
Usually green but turn red as they approach overwintering state [Credit: Gilles San Martin ]
Red spider mites leaf damage
Red spider mites leaf damage
Red spider mites leaf damage


Host Plants:

In the garden: Many flowers
On Crops: Beans, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, corn and strawberries

Where Found:

Temperate and subtropical climates worldwide

Description:

Closely related to spiders, spider mites (sometimes called web-spinning mites) are specialists at colonizing drought-stressed plants. Under warm, dry conditions with temperatures above 80°F (26 °C), leaves become stippled with hundreds of tiny yellow dots that run together to make the leaves look sun-bleached. On leaf undersides, a faint webbing is often present, especially near the leaf tips.

Damage:

Spider mites use piercing mouthparts to suck juices from plants. Heavily infested plants are weakened by spider mite feeding. Spider mites are attracted to drought-stressed plants.

Preventing Problems:

Spider mites thrive under hot, dusty conditions, so keeping the garden watered helps prevent problems. Spider mites also have numerous natural enemies that are easily wiped out by the use of pesticides. In organic gardens where beneficial insects are encouraged, spider mite problems are rare.

Managing Outbreaks:

Clip off and compost heavily infested leaves, because they will not recover. Thoroughly spray the plants with a fine spray of water, taking care to rinse leaf undersides. If the mites persist, repeat the water spray and then cover plants with an old sheet or other lightweight cloth for a couple of days. Shade and moist, cool conditions will seriously set back spider mites. To save a prized plant, an oil-based fungicide such as neem oil is the best intervention.

Tips:

If you tap an infested leaf over a white sheet of paper, a 10x magnifying glass will reveal numerous moving specks, which are the spider mites.

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