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Spider Mites: 3 Things You Can Do to Stop Them

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Spider Mites

The list of houseplant pests can be tremendous.  Spider mites, thrips, mealybugs, fungus gnats, aphids, scale.  It is a long and disgusting list!  This post will focus on the tiny, yet highly annoying and destructive spider mite.

There are many different methods that you can use to deal with spider mites.  I will give you some home remedies that you can try, as well as recommend some products out in the market that you can try if you don’t want to make your own concoction.

Spider mite damage can be pretty extreme and if you don’t detect it early, it can cause a giant headache.

Where do Spider Mites Come From

I have gotten this question so many times about pests in general.  Where do they come from?  The fact of the matter is that there are bugs everywhere and you simply can not stop them.

You can create conditions that will make it favorable for certain types of pests to attack your plants, but where do they come from?

Let me put it in perspective.  There are an estimated 10 quintillion (that’s 10 with 18 zeros after it) insects in the world.  That’s a LOT of damn bugs.  Spider mites technically actually aren’t even insects, but they are closely related to spiders.

We can not stop them.

They are everywhere.

What we CAN do though is 3 things:

  1. Create an environment that is unfavorable for spider mites
  2. Be observant
  3. Treat spider mites early on before the damage is too great

How Can You Tell You Have Spider Mites

There are a few telltale signs that you have spider mites.

Seeing a fine webbing in the leaves and stems will probably be the first thing that you notice.  If you look closely, you can actually see the spider mites, although they are very, very small.

They will appear as little specs and they come in different colors (lucky us).

One trick that you can use to see if you have spider mites is to hold a white piece of paper under the leaves of your plant that you are inspecting. If you gently shake the plant, you may notice little, dark specs falling on the paper.  These are spider mites.

Once spider mite infestation gets worse, you will notice a speckled or mottled appearance of the leaves.  There will be whiteish or yellow discoloration on the leaves.

This is because they suck the chlorophyll out of the leaves.  Chlorophyll is the pigment that gives plants their green color.

As a result, once the spider mites suck out the chlorophyll, you are left with unsightly white and yellow discoloration, and eventually very damaged brown leaves.  Bastards!

spider mites

Preventing Spider Mites

Spider mites thrive in an environment that is warm, dry and low in humidity.  So naturally, you can help discourage spider mites by having an environment that is the exact opposite.

You may not be able to control the temperature, but spider mites HATE moisture.  So keeping your plant well hydrated and increasing the humidity if your space will go a long way in preventing spider mites from damaging your plants.

When I do have spider mites, I tend to notice them much more in the winter time.   Forced air heat in our home produces an environment that is very low in humidity.  This conditions make it more favorable for spider mites.

Spider Mites Home Remedy

There are a few different home remedies that you can try before resorting to some other products.  You can try these first to keep the spider mites under control, while you wait to get a commercial product if you choose to go down that path.

The simplest thing you can do is give your houseplant a shower!  Take it to the sink, the shower, wherever you can give your plant a good rinse.  Wet the entire plant, including the undersides of the leaves.

After you do this, what I like to do is to take a damp paper towel and wipe every surface of the leaves.  This works particularly well if you have larger leaves that you can handle.

It may not work if you have finer or smaller leaves.  Be sure to wipe the undersides of the leaves as well!  You will notice that you will see a yellowish/brownish color on the paper towel.

I have a cast iron plant that gets spider mites in the winter, but I am able to keep it under control and will regularly wipe the leaves down.

Spider mites hate moisture, so giving your houseplant a regular shower will help keep the population down dramatically and will help you eradicate this pest.  The key is CONSISTENCY, so if you notice spider mites on your houseplant, give it a regular shower at least once a week.

Spider Mites – Other Remedies

Whether I have plants indoors or outdoors, I like to use the safest, most natural remedies before resorting to anything more harsh for pest control.  We have a responsibility for ourselves, our family, our pets and our environment to use the least harsh methods for pest management!

Insecticidal Soap is my product of choice for general pest control and it is also on Amazon or most nurseries, garden centers and hardware stores.

It uses naturally derived ingredients for pest control.  You need to make sure that you spray all surfaces of the plant, including the undersides of the leaves.  The insecticidal soap must contact the spider mites otherwise it won’t work.

Not only does it help with spider mites, but it will also help you eliminate aphids, mealy bugs, and a host of other pests.

Another remedy for treating spider mites and other pests is Neem Oil and it is also available on Amazon. I personally don’t use it because it has an odor which I don’t like indoors, but many people report success.

Neem oil is naturally derived and is a good control for aphids, white flies, and spider mites.  It is also reportedly a good treatment for fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and can be used indoors and outdoors.

Closing Comments on Pests

I will be writing more articles in the future about other pests and how you can successfully treat your houseplants.  The key is to try and provide an environment that is not conducive to pests.

In addition, the methods described in this post are the safest methods to use indoors for spider mites.  Once you have spider mites, it will important be to keep a vigilant eye on your plants and use a methodical, consistent treatment plan as described above.

Although spider mites are very annoying, you can successfully and safely treat them if you spot them before they cause a large amount of damage to your houseplants.

Want to know how to deal with other pests? Check out my blog post on how to deal with:

Scale on Houseplants: 5 Effective Steps to Eliminate Them

Eliminating Fungus Gnats: 3 Easy Steps for Your Houseplants

Please do me a favor and share this post to social media because it will help me spread the Ohio Tropics houseplant care tips to the masses! Also, check out my shop on Amazon for all your houseplant care needs:


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Monday 10th of August 2020

Thanks for the information. I tried a new way to water my plants this week. I put them in 2 inches of room tempature of distilled water for 20 minutes. I could not believe the results. Some of the plants drank it all up and looked a lot better. Has anyone tried this? Could I do it with my orchids?


Monday 10th of August 2020

You're welcome Megan! For my orchids, I have most of them in a plastic pot with holes, but have them slipped into a decorative pot with no holes. I fill it with water to the top and let them soak for at least 30 minutes. Then I take the plant out, drain the water, and place back by the window. It works very well to thoroughly moisten the bark mix.

Tawny Leste-Carlson

Thursday 9th of April 2020

I need your help in a big, bad way. I have spider mites (I've sent you so darn many questions and comments and pretty sure I've asked you about those evil mafnards before, it's a yearly battle that seems to happen at the EXACT time I turn the switch from AC to heat, which is Sept here in NW WI). So! I have many, I'm guessing around 200-230 houseplants (not counting babies being propagated) and I grow everything but Orchids (I have an AWESOME track record and don't want to wreck that by taking on a plant that seems a tad "difficult" and that I might not have success with. I pushed my luck with every type of Croton I could get my hands on, one at a time, and I even impress MYSELF with how happy and healthy they are ? ~ that's where I drew the line ?) ~ But I digress, as is my usual.....I use various home made, store bought, organic and non-organic methods and I have a routine that seems to work. However, for the very first time, my African Violets now have them ?? ~ despite googling the heck out of the topic I can't find good, sensible (I'm not about to start smoking cigars and blowing the smoke on my plants) and reliable advice on how to treat AVs specifically. To be honest, I've come to rely on your expertise and advice when it comes to my precious green babies. I got my first AV as a thoughtful gift, followed by 3 others, when my daughter passed away 3 years ago, so I can't imagine tossing them out, like I've easily done with other plants that I didn't have any sentimental attachment to. Should I just treat them as I do ny Dieffenbachias, Peperomias, etc? Would swishing them upside down in soapy Dr. Bonners or Murphys Oil Soap water do the trick? I know it's an old wives tale about not getting their leaves wet, just as long as you keep them out of the sun until they are dry. I'm sure I'm not the only person who literally LOVES AND CARES deeply about their plants. (I don't know any others personally, but I'm positive they're out there!) Thanks again, for all of your help.

Your Short-Story-Long follower, Tawny Leste-Carlson


Sunday 5th of May 2019

I'm working on getting into the habit of applying a homemade insecticidal soap once a week as a preventative measure. I've also noticed a few lady bugs and a baby praying mantis hanging around my outdoor plants which is helpful!

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Sunday 5th of May 2019

That's a great idea, and a good sign if you are seeing beneficial insects!


Monday 13th of August 2018

#2: Be Observant! This is so important! Inspecting all your plants at least weekly (hopefully more frequently) can save a lot of time, money and heartache. Great advice!

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Monday 13th of August 2018

Thanks. It is so much better if you can catch spider mites early on before it's too late!