Spider mites are a widespread threat to house plants. However, it would be best if you did not mistake their commonality for their frailty, since they can kill a plant if not controlled timely. Analyzing the situation and taking the proper steps can help you get rid of spider mites.
Here are 15 ways to get rid of spider mites on indoor plants:
- Wash the foliage.
- Use dish soap/pesticide soap.
- Shift the plant to a cooler room.
- Use ice treatment.
- Use forceful water spray.
- Increase humidity.
- Use insecticide or pesticide.
- Cut the affected plant leaves.
- Use rubbing alcohol.
- Introduce biological control.
- Use essential oils.
- Use neem oil.
- Use pepper repellent.
- Sprinkle diatomaceous earth powder.
- Call a pest control professional
By reading the whole article, you will understand which treatment fits your condition and how you should do it to save your affected plant from spider mites. Follow the clear instructions given in each treatment to get the best results.
1. Wash the Foliage
Spider mites live on the leaves of plants in colonies. Sometimes their grip is so loose that you can remove them by washing the foliage. Washing is the easiest way to get rid of the spider mites on your plants.
You can wash the plant in two ways; washing the leaves and spraying them with water. If the plant has considerably bigger leaves to hold in your hands and wash separately, wash them in a water bowl or wipe them down with a wet cloth.
If the plant has smaller and fragile leaves, spraying the plant with water will be better. Before washing off the plant, remove the mites with your hands. You should wear gloves before doing so. High-speed water spray can also pluck the spiders off the plant.
Please don’t throw the mites near other plants or trees as you remove them. Instead, collect the mites in a sealed bag and throw them in the dustbin. Keep your children and pet away while performing the task.
Tools you need to wash the plant foliage:
- A tub or a big bowl
- Cotton tissue paper/soft brush
- Affected plant
Follow the given instructions to wash the foliage:
- Wear gloves.
- Dip the brush or tissue paper in the water.
- Rub the surface of the leaf gently with a brush or tissue.
- Take out the spider mites one by one and seal them in a plastic bag.
- Bathe the plant after removing all mites.
2. Use Dish Soap/Pesticide Soap
If the mites have severely affected the plant to the point where washing with plain water isn’t enough, you can wash the foliage with dish soap or unique pesticide soaps. Removing spider mites with soap water is more effective than washing with plain water.
Soap water or pesticide soap removes the spider mites from the leaves and branches. Moreover, it keeps the mites from growing again on the leaves. However, before selecting which soap to use for the treatment, do good research to avoid burning your plant with chemicals.
After bathing the plant with soap water, wash it twice or three times with plain water to altogether remove the chemicals. If you are not willing to opt for a pesticide soap, use mild dish soap and dilute it in the water. If you do not want to bathe the plant, you can spray the soap water with a spray bottle and then wash it off with tap water.
Don’t leave soap on the leaves for more than ten minutes to save the plant from burning. Adjust the timing according to the plant’s strength. You can follow the washing procedure as given in the first point.
3. Shift the Plant to Cooler Room
Spider mites prefer hot and dry weather, and they struggle to survive in cool temperatures. You can use their weakness to kill them. Changing the environment of affected plants can help you get rid of spider mites.
However, keep in mind that the change in the environment may also negatively affect the plant. Before shifting the plant to a cooler temperature, make sure the plant can survive the change. Sudden change will impact both the plant and the mites. If the plant sustains, you will get rid of spider mites without much effort.
A shift of the plant to a cool temperature could potentially damage the plant permanently. Ensure you don’t deprive the plant of light and water during the treatment phase, and don’t keep the plant in adverse conditions for more than a couple of days.
Moreover, if you see that the plant is wilting in the cool environment, shift it back to the previous location and try other methods to eliminate the spider mites. If you don’t want to risk keeping the plant outside, keep it in an air-conditioned room.
4. Use Ice Treatment
Along with a dry environment, mites love hot temperatures. An ice-cold bath can kill the mites in no time. However, you might need to bathe the plant a few times in ice-cold water to thoroughly eliminate mites as some eggs can survive and flourish later.
The easiest way to treat the plant with ice is to dip it in ice-cold water. Cover the roots and pot with plastic wrap and dip the plant in a tub filled with ice water. Don’t keep the plant in ice water for more than 2-3 minutes. You can dip the plant 2-3 times for a couple of minutes each time.
If the plant and pot size is big and you can’t turn it upside down to dip into the water, connect a spray hose to the ice-cold water supply and bathe the plant. Perform this task in a safe location where no other plants are at risk nearby.
5. Use Forceful Water Spray
If handling the mites with tissue or a brush seems messy, you can use a forceful spray of water to remove them from the plant. It would be best to keep the speed of water balanced enough that it doesn’t hurt the plant but removes all the mites.
Tools you require to wash off the mites:
- Water supply
- Spray hose
- Affected plant
- Plastic wrap
Follow the given instructions to remove the mites with water spray:
- Wear gloves on your hands
- Cover the roots and plant pot with plastic wrap to avoid erosion of the potting soil.
- Lay down the plant.
- Spray the foliage (backside of the leaves) with medium speed.
- Remove the plastic wrap when all mites are removed.
- Keep the plant separate from other plants for a few weeks to ensure all mites have gone.
Remember not to perform this task around other trees and plants since they could catch the mites. If the plant pot is small, you can treat it in the sink. Otherwise, ideal places for this work are the garage, basement, or any other place where there are no trees.
6. Increase Humidity
Spider mites love hot and dry environments. They flourish in dry summers and spread when they get proper living conditions. One way to get rid of them is by depriving them of adequate living conditions and leaving them to die without any external torture.
If your indoor plant is living in dry conditions, shift the plant to a different location where it can get a more humid environment, such as near a swimming pool or in a bathroom. Otherwise, you can spray water over the plant frequently to keep the leaves moist.
Another excellent way to increase humidity around the affected plant is to place a boiling water bowl near the plant or air dry clothes inside the room. You can also use a humidifier if you have one at your house.
Spider mites have a brief life span of around one week, but their reproduction process is so fast that they spread quickly. We can take advantage of their short life span and kill them by depriving them of proper living conditions. The whole process will take around eight to ten days to eliminate all living mites.
7. Use Insecticide or Pesticide
You can spray insecticides or pesticides on plants to permanently remove the spider mites from indoor plants. They are readily available in the local market or you can order them online.
There are varieties of insecticides and pesticides of both chemical and organic formulas. It is always best to use organic products since they are less harmful to the environment, children, and pets.
Insecticides and pesticides are available in liquid and granular forms. Some fertilizers also include both insecticides and pesticides. If you use fertilizers in your plants, opt for a product containing pesticides.
Generally, one application is enough to remove the pests forever. However, if you notice any spider mites after the first application, another application will kill all the mites within a few days. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to use carefully to get the best results and avoid damage to the plant.
8. Cut the Affected Plant Leaves
If the mite’s attack has not spread too much on the plant and only a few leaves are affected, you can remove the mites by just cutting out the affected leaves. It is always best to naturally remove the mites without using chemical formulas and complex procedures.
However, if the mites have spread all over the plant, don’t cut the foliage completely. Plants need green leaves to absorb sunlight and convert it into food. If you remove all the greenery, the plant will not be able to make its food, and it will eventually die.
You can mix and match a few ways of removing mites to get the best results. For example, cutting and pruning the plant and forceful spray or washing can solve the issue. Remove the most affected leaves and wash the rest of the plant leaves to remove all mites.
9. Use Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol can also kill the plant spider mites. You can use the regular rubbing alcohol available at your home to get rid of mites. Follow the given procedure to apply rubbing alcohol on plant leaves.
- Wear gloves on your hands.
- Take rubbing alcohol in a cotton ball and clean each leaf one by one
- Leave the alcohol on leaves for a few hours
- Wash the plant with water
- Repeat the process next week if there are any mites left.
Rubbing alcohol is safe to use on leaves. However, don’t forget to wash the leaves a few hours after application. You can spray the plant with a spray bottle. Cover the soil before washing the leaves to avoid excess water in the pot.
In the absence of rubbing alcohol, you can use other alcoholic formulas such as ethanol. Vinegar wash can also kill mites. Follow the same procedure with vinegar to kill the spider mites.
10. Introduce Biological Control
There are natural ways to keep the spider mite population in control. Several natural predators such as ladybugs, lacewings, thrips, and predatory mites keep a check on spider mites. You can deal with the issue of spider mites by increasing the natural predators’ population around the plant.
However, it seems complicated to bring insects home for indoor plants. Don’t worry. They are safe, and you can purchase them online. Leave some natural predators in the indoor plant pot, and they will eat up thousands of spider mites in a day.
Another way to increase the natural predators’ population is not to use pesticides in your plant. Using pesticides to control pest attacks also kills the beneficial insects in and around the plant, so the natural balance gets disturbed. After the effect of pesticides, harmful insects start dominating the plant.
If you don’t want to bring natural predators into your home, you can keep the plant outdoors for a week or so and leave beneficial insects in it. After seeing that spider mites are gone, you can take the plant back to its original location.
11. Use Essential Oils
Some essential oils repel spider mites and other harmful insects. For example, coriander, chamomile, and rosemary are some of the best essential oils to repel the mites. They might not help you get rid of the mites if the plant is already heavily infested. However, you can save other plants by applying essential oils to them.
A 2017 study discloses that essential oils on plants can protect them against insect attacks. The application of essential oils to infested plants will stop the further growth of mites. Moreover, these essential oils are good room fresheners. So, applying critical oil will treat the plant and keep the room fresh.
If you do not like the fragrance of essential oils and want to treat the plant with them, there is always an option to shift the plant elsewhere until it is being treated against the pest attacks. Don’t place the infested plant near other healthy plants during the treatment phase to avoid contamination.
12. Use Neem Oil
Neem oil is one of the easiest and most effective treatments for infected plants. You can apply the neem oil on plant leaves and leave it for a couple of hours. Then, wash the plant in regular water. Neem oil is safe for plants. Even if you leave it on the leaves, it won’t affect the plant negatively.
You can mix the neem oil in water and spray it over the leaves with a spray bottle twice a week. This easy magical formula will kill the spider mites and protect the plant from other pest attacks. You can apply neem oil to healthy plants also to avoid pest attacks.
If you do not have neem oil, you can use neem leaves’ juice in the same manner to kill the mites. Neem juice is similarly effective, and you can prepare it in the mixer grinder. Store the liquid in the fridge in a spray bottle and spray the plant twice a week.
13. Use Pepper Repellent
Pepper repellents are effective in the same way as essential oils and neem oil. However, they might not kill the stubborn mites but will repel them from infecting the plant. You can purchase the pepper repellents in the local market or online.
You can also prepare the pepper repellent at home without much effort. You need to grind the red or black peppers in a grinder and mix the pepper powder in water. Fill the solution in a spray bottle and apply it twice a week.
You can also mix a few drops of essential oil to make the solution more effective. While making and spraying the pepper repellent, cover your face and eyes to avoid infection.
14. Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth Powder
Diatomaceous earth is a naturally-occurring siliceous substance found in nature in rock form. It is made of volcanic ash, fossilized bones, and small aquatic animals and is widely used as an organic pesticide. The diatomaceous earth is poisonous to insects and pests but safe for humans.
To kill the spider mites, you can sprinkle the diatomaceous earth power on the plant leaves and soil. It is readily available in the departmental stores in local markets, or you can purchase it online.
15. Call a Pest Control Professional
If the spider mites have spread in and around the plant and any other ways do not seem to work efficiently, this is the time to call a pest control professional. They analyze the pest type and make a plan accordingly.
Pest control is a sure-fire way to get rid of spider mites once and for all. The pest control professional may ask you to leave the house or room for one or two days until it is safe to live in the treated environment again.
Moreover, pest control professionals will educate you on preventing pests inside the house. There are so many things in the garden and home that attract spiders, mites, and other insects in the first place. Pest control professionals will make you aware of them after analyzing your home situation so that you can take better precautions.
If you have a rock garden and are dealing with pests, you can read this article for more information: Do Rock Gardens Attract Spiders or Mosquitoes
As you can see, there are numerous ways to get rid of spider mites on indoor plants. Take protective measures to ensure your plant stays healthy and happy.