Some of the tiniest creatures in the garden that can cause some of the greatest damage to plants are spider mites. They feed on a vast variety of plants, so vigilance is necessary to get rid of an infestation rapidly getting beyond control.
Take action as soon as the tell-tale signs appear of webbing, as well as tiny white spots on the leaves. You may also notice yellow or brown spots if they are feeding heavily .
Those small yellowy-brown puncture marks indicate that mites have been feeding off the chlorophyll in plants and will soon destroy them.
Here’s how to get rid of spider mites naturally.
The life cycle of spider mites is very rapid, with hundreds of eggs being laid in a short time. The eggs hatch in a few days and the larvae will begin to eat at once while the adults are already contemplating another family.
Furthermore, it may be that an infestation has already occurred by the time it is noticed. Infested leaves and branches of plants and shrubs will benefit by being cut back, and the cuttings bagged up and burnt.
Regular pruning of healthy plants may help avoid the problem by keeping them strong and resistant to attack. Also, consider removing infested plants altogether.
2. Hose Them
This is one of the cheapest and quickest ways of dealing with these pests.
A jet of cold water on and around the plants should flush away plenty of them. This will act as a deterrent as well as mites do not thrive in cold conditions.
Spray under leaves well where the mites hide.
3. Rosemary Oil
Rosemary oil is a tried-and-trusted method for organic gardeners. What’s more, it will likely not harm phytoseiulus persimilis, a predatory mite .
Make up a solution of three teaspoons of rosemary oil in a liter of water. Adding a teaspoon of organic liquid soapy will help destroy the two-spotted spider mite and a number of other pests too.
Shake and squirt via a hand spray for indoor and greenhouse plants or a pump spray for larger outdoor plants.
4. Natural Predators
These are a great boon to the organic gardener, doing a great deal of the work of eliminating pests. Beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings will eat their way through colonies of pests.
Songbirds are also helpful in this way, and bright perfumed flowers like marigolds planted nearby are useful to attract predators.
5. Soapy Spray
Dissolve some liquid soap in water and spray directly onto infested areas.
For the recipe, combine three tablespoons of organic liquid soap in a gallon of water. The solution will suffocate and kill them.
After a few hours, dousing plants with pure water will remove the dead mites.
6. Neem Oil
This has been one of the standbys for gardeners for generations. Extracted from the seeds of the Neem tree, this natural pesticide also benefits plants as a fungicide.
To make an insecticidal spray, combine two tablespoons of neem oil with one teaspoon liquid soap in a gallon of water. Shake well.
Moreover, as an organic pest control method, you can spray it without fear of harming pollinators, beneficial insects, pets, or wildlife.
7. Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
For less immediate but effective control, DE is another natural remedy used by gardeners and farmers for many years.
It is a white powdery substance similar in texture to flour that you can puff around and on plants, disrupting the pest’s life cycle.
Diatomaceous earth is composed of diatoms — minute fossilized remains of aquatic creatures. These skeletons naturally contain silica which inhibits the development of mites and causes a dehydrating effect that kills them.
DE is very effective in the larval and adult stages, but you will need to repeat applications after watering or rainfall. Dust the powder on plant leaves and stem and surrounding soil.
This powerful organic pesticide combines pyrethrum, a derivative of chrysanthemum and daisy flowers, and Neem oil. These ingredients have been shown to control innumerable insects and pests and have been used in commercial products for ages.
Although some care must be taken to protect honeybees, Azera is safe to use where pollinators and beneficial insects are present.
To reduce the risk to bees, spray only in the late evening or out of sunlight. It is also wise to be sure the pesticide has time to dry out before a sunny spell attracts pollinators.
An alternative to Azera, Organocide is a commercially available product composed of fish oil, sesame oil, and soybean extract.
It kills many garden pests and acts as a fungicide too, encouraging healthy disease-resistant plants. However, it is not advisable that you use this product for indoor plants.
10. Garlic Spray
This is another inexpensive easy way to control mites.
Add one mashed clove garlic bulb and a small chopped onion to a quart of water. You can also add to the solution one teaspoon of cayenne pepper and a little liquid soap.
Steep it for a few hours and then strain. Spray the solution liberally on and around the pests.
This is a botanical insecticide and miticide with a base of azadirachtin, derived from the Neem tree. Azaguard also destroys harmful nematodes in the soil.
Moreover, its properties are active at all stages of the pest life cycle — eggs, larvae, and adults.
This product has a suffocating-effect on pests, as the name suggests. Composed of highly refined mineral oils, you can dilute it to saturate infested plants and suffocate spider mites.
Suffoil-X can be sprayed on vegetables and food crops as well as ornamentals. Additionally, it doubles as an effective fungicide, leading to healthier plants.
Besides, it does not leave a residue, so beneficial insects can speedily repopulate plants.
Spider mites are a great menace in the garden, greenhouse, and indoors.
Once an infestation occurs, it may be difficult to get it under control. However, by using a combination of these natural and organic methods, it is possible.