Here’s the deal on a homemade spider mite killer on plants!
Every gardener needs to understand. The spider mite may be small, but they can damage plants as they suck the life out of them.
Infected plants with large populations look lackluster with almost a “dust-like” appearance.
Without control spider mites cause extensive plant injuries. It is best to get control before they have the opportunity to lay their first eggs.
Simply put, spider mites are plants’ worst enemy. They are a common nuisance affecting both indoor plants and outdoor plants.
Learning spider mite pest control is essential in basic plant care. An infestation of these tiny critters is destructive, even deadly to plants, especially in greenhouses.
The Spider Mite Not True “Insects”
As their name suggests, spider mites are small, usually red or green/yellow spiders that feed on plants.
Spider mites are not true insects. They are classified as arachnids, relatives to ticks, spiders, and scorpions.
A mature red spider mite is reddish-brown or pale, oval-shaped, and tiny about the size of a sharp pencil tip.
Immature spider mites look like the adults, only a bit smaller.
Spider mites live in colonies. You will find them often hiding on the underside of leaves.
A single colony may contain hundreds to thousands of individual mites.
Feeding marks appear as light dots on the leaf. The continuous feeding leads to yellow leaves, with plants having a “dull” appearance.
They feed by piercing the leaf tissues, slowly sucking out the chlorophyll and other plant fluids.
Mite species thrive in hot and dry conditions (psst… where houseplants live). Often their natural predators have been killed due to the use of insecticides.
These windsurfers disperse over broad areas using their webs.
If not controlled, they may stay on the plant during their life-cycle or move on to other plants in the garden. Without their chlorophyll, plants will not thrive and slowly start to die.
When populations become large, you can see their fine webbing with the naked eye. Some of their common host plants include:
- Ornamental flowers
- Various Fruit Trees and Ornamental Trees
- Cannabis plants – Yes, Marijuana!
- Spider mites on Houseplants is common in dry environments
Signs Of Spider Mite Damage Includes:
Annual Vegetable Crops – such as melons and squashes. It can lead to loss of leaves, resulting in a significant impact on the yield and sun burning.
Crops such as sugar peas and beans, mites attack the pods and cause direct damage to the plant.
Ornamental Flowers – spider mites are an aesthetic concern. But, if they are in a large population, they can kill the plants.
During winter, indoor houseplants, where the environment is hot and dry, are especially prone to infestation.
How Can You Tell If Your Plants Have Spider Mites?
Look for light dots appearing on the leaf as feeding marks. The continuous feeding leads to leaves turning yellow, with plants having a “dull” appearance.
One easy way to check plants is by gently shaking the plant leaves over a white piece of paper.
Spider mites are so tiny seeing these houseplant pests without the use of a magnifying glass is difficult.
But, if you look closely at the white paper, you’ll observe “specks” moving slowly even with eight legs.
How To Get Rid Of Spider Mites Organically
Prevention is the best solution to prevent the spider mites.
Regular plant inspection helps prevent an infestation before it gets out of hand. Having a magnifying glass for a closer examination is helpful.
Pest Control Of Spider Mites With Water Sprays
A quick and easy way for spider control outdoors is to use strong water pressure from spray nozzles.
Use a garden hose with a spray nozzle attached or a spray bottle. Spray directly onto the plant with forceful water spray. Get the underside of the leaves as well.
How to control spider mites indoors?
For indoor plants, wipe each plant leaf with a wet sponge and neem oil.
Remove Heavily Infested Leaves
Get rid of mites by removing heavily infested leaves. Place leaves in a plastic bag, seal the bag well, and disposing of them.
If the whole plant (especially houseplants) is infested, throw out the plant. Disposal helps prevent other plants from becoming infected.
Spray A Mild Dish Soap Solution On Plant Leaves
- 1 gallon of water
- 3 tablespoons of dish soap (Dawn dish soap or Castile)
Add the solution to a spray bottle and apply it on the plant, especially on the underside of the leaves.
If the infestation is not reduced, reapply in six days.
CAUTION: Some plants are sensitive to soap solutions. If the leaves of the plant are hairy, they will hold the solution longer.
This increases the chances of leaf burn. Always TEST the solution on a small part of the plant before spraying the whole plant.
Spider Mites Home Remedy
Here are a few homemade spider mite killer recipes.
Cayenne Pepper Mix:
Take one teaspoon of Cayenne pepper or blend one hot Chile Pepper in one cup of water. Use the spray solution to control spider mites and other small garden pests.
Garlic Spider Mite Spray:
In one liter of water add two mashed garlic cloves. Allow the mix to stand overnight. Strain the mix and spray plants without diluting. Some growers find garlic sprays very effective against spider mites.
A commercial product is made by combining food-grade wax and Cayenne pepper extract. The wax suffocates the mites and the pepper stops them from eating. Eggs are not affected requiring repeated applications.
Use Beneficial Insects For Biological Control
Some insects feed on the mites. These predatory insects or natural enemies of spider mites include:
- Six-spotted thrips
- Lady beetles
- Minute pirate bug species
There are also predatory mites that snack on the spider mites making them an effective way to get rid of spider mites.
Apply Diatomaceous Earth An Organic Pesticide
Apply Diatomaceous earth (DE), an all-natural mineral and a multi-purpose organic pesticide. DE removes the outer layer of the spider mite’s cuticles, killing them through dehydration.
Boost Overall Plant Health
Stressed or infested plants or often have a higher chance of spider mite infestation.
During dry and hot conditions, the spider mites are thirsty and cause more plant damage.
Make sure plants are well watered and have all the nutrients they need. Plants should receive optimal light and soils should drain well.
The Red Spider Mite And Spider Mites
Both red spider mites and spider mites live and feed on the undersides of leaves.
Most Common Species
The most common and troublesome species in the Acari Family is Tetranychus urticae the red spider mite or two-spotted spider mite.
The red spider mite is often found in greenhouses and temperate zones.
Two Kinds Of Red Spider Mites
The red spider mite is classified into two groups:
- Southern red mite
- European red spider mite
The southern red mite is the most common.
The European red mite is common on apple trees. The Southern red spider mite is found on a much wider variety of plants.
The red spider mite attacks most food crops and vegetables. They feed on the leaves, sucking all the contents out cell by cell. They leave little scars or pale spots on the plants that host them:
- Ornamental plants such as colocasia (elephant ears plant) and roses
Red Spider Mite Infestation Much Harder To Control
The quick life cycle of the red spider mite makes them more challenging to control.
One female red spider can lay more than twenty eggs in a day. These eggs hatch in less than three days and the young ones become sexually active in less than five days.
Adult females can live for two to four weeks laying thousands of eggs in their lifespan.
The accelerated reproduction rate helps mites adapt fast and resist chemical pesticides.
Chemical control methods often become ineffective if used for long periods.
European Red Mite Loves Fruits
The European red mite loves feeding on fruits trees.
They attack apple trees, strawberries, tomatoes, and melons. They are most active in cool weather so you’ll find them more in fall or spring.
You can control the red spider mites using natural predators (integrated pest management) such as:
- Lacewing larvae
- Predator mites
You can also use insecticidal horticultural soap or oils.
Reduce the chances of re-infestation by:
- Making sure plants have enough water
- Keep plants free of dust and debris
NOTE: Do not apply natural oils or insecticidal soaps to plants during warm temperatures or when the plant is dehydrated. The solutions can cause burning of the leaves in these conditions.
In conclusion, the natural ways of controlling spider mites are recommended. Chemical applications can kill helpful organisms found in soil and in the garden.
Homemade Spider Mite Killer Using 7 Essential Oils
There are many ways and homemade spray recipes you can use to get rid of this eight-legged nuisance.
You can opt for commercial repellents. A healthier, safer option for natural spider mite control is essential oils.
In a nutshell, essential oils:
- Smell nice
- Have a stingy and robust scent
- Work great as natural repellents
The oils affect the mites’ nervous system and keep them away.
Below are several efficient (and pleasant!) essential oils, also called horticultural oil, to help you with a mite infestation.
#1 – Neem Oil For Spider Mites
This essential oil extracted from the seeds of the neem tree works as a miticide.
Gardeners use Neem oil sprays to control a wide variety of insect pests that attack plants such as:
- Scale insects
- … and others
Neem oil is an organic pesticide considered a universal natural repellent. Order Neem concentrate from Amazon.
Although the smell is not as pleasant or as intense as that of lemon or eucalyptus oil, neem oil is excellent for targeting infestations in pest control, and the results show after the first few days of treatment.
Combining an insecticidal soap is also an option.
#2 – Eucalyptus Oil
If spider mites hate one thing more than the smell of lemon, it is the strong smell of menthol. Many organic gardeners claim eucalyptus oil works like magic. The ‘magic’ is to its antibacterial and bactericidal properties.
Eucalyptus oil has a water-like composition when diluted before use. This makes it very efficient, allowing for a smooth, even, effortless distribution across the plant leaves.
#3 – Lemon Oil
Lemon oil is by far one of the most popular choices for preventing spider mites from destroying your plants.
Lemons are known for being natural antibiotics. They have strong antimicrobial properties and are non-toxic. They pose no threat to plants or you and your family. Plus, lemon oil also has a delightful, fresh, sharp smell!
#4 – Cinnamon Oil
Cinnamon is a delicious and intensely flavored ingredient. It delights us with its scent and taste and is widely used in international cuisine.
This delightful smelling oil is used as a non-toxic and non-hazardous pesticide. Its efficacy to kill spider mites has been proven numerous times.
Cinnamon oil targets adult spider mites and the spider mite eggs, providing effective long-term protection.
Applied two times a week, the oil will slowly kill the spider mites, allowing plants to recover.
#5 – Peppermint Oil
Another very strongly scented essential oil is peppermint oil. It also contains an intense menthol smell like the eucalyptus.
Peppermint oil also has antiseptic properties.
#6 – Rosemary Oil Insect Spray Recipe
Rosemary oil is a spider mite killer. The oil (extracted from the leaves of rosemary plants) is easily sprayed onto infested plants.
Make a solution of:
- 8 ounces of water
- 1 teaspoon of rosemary oil
Place the oil spray solution in a sprayer bottle and apply evenly.
The solution will target:
- Spider mites
- Red spider
- European red mites
- Eriophyid mites
- Persea mites
- Dust mites
- … and others that are attacking plants
Rosemary oil gets rid of the pest but does not harm the beneficial predatory mite, Phytoseiulus persimilis.
#7 – Canola Oil
The canola oil is very good in controlling spider mites if sprayed diligently twice a week.
Mix canola oil with water. Dilute the oil according to the severity of the infection. For plants with severe spider mite infestation, you can use a 2% solution.
Mixing, Combining and Spraying Essential Oils
The concentrations vary slightly from one essential oil to another.
In organic gardening, use stronger oil concentrations with a gentle smell. Use lower concentrations for those with a very sharp scent (such as eucalyptus, lemon oil, cinnamon oil, or rosemary oil).
You can also combine two or three essential oils in one homemade spray. For instance, rosemary and peppermint work well together.
Another Homemade Spider Mite Killer Option
Prepare the solution by mixing:
- 6-8 ounces of warm water
- 2 drops of essential oil of your choice
- 1 teaspoon castile soap
- Shake all the ingredients well
- Put the solution in a spray bottle as instructed
- Spray the plant all over
All these ‘recipes’ are equally efficient. Never apply pure essential oil directly to plants, not even on the affected areas.
The oils can kill the leaves and do more harm than good. Always dilute any oil before spraying it.
Use natural methods for controlling spider mites over chemical applications.
Chemicals can kill helpful organisms found in soil and the garden.
Always test any spray solution before spraying entire plants with any chemical or organic spider mite killer insecticide.