How to get rid of Mites

Mites are a common pest and there are over 30,000 different species. You may be desperate to know exactly what they look like, unfortunately for you, there are too many to describe. As annoying as they are, they’re not technically insects. They are incredible small, and closely related to spiders and ticks. Some are invisible to the human eye, the majority of them are just an eighth of an inch long, or smaller. There are 4 basic stages: egg, larva, nymph, adult.

Many mites are beneficial in breaking down organic matter for plants to use, some feed on animals or humans, while others some feed on plants. The majority of mites fall into the latter category.

How to identify Mites

Mites have four pairs of legs, and like arachnids have a body made up of an abdomen and prosoma. They can survive in water, and on land, although the majority of mites aren’t harmful to humans or animals.

Parasitic mites attack animal hosts, causing mange, while bird mites affect poultry, and spider mites destroy crops. Spider mites are quick to multiply, they can double in population every 2 weeks or so. They are fully grown just a week after hatching. Within just a few weeks, an adult female can lay hundreds of eggs.

Mite Damage

The signs of a mite infestation will vary dependent on the species. They may be difficult to spot without a magnifying glass, but you may be able to detect their presence as they move. The clover mite is bright red, so you may be able to spot it easily.

Spider mites are incredibly destructive. A plant can be devastated in a short space of time. They suck the sap from leaves, causing them to dry out, shrivel up, curl under, appear discolored and speckled. The leaves die after infestation and fall off. Some of the mites that feed on plants produce silk like webbing.

How to Control Mites

Mites area diverse bunch, some of them even feed on mites. If you want to control mites from destroying your plants there are a variety of methods, you can take. They tend to quickly develop a resistance to chemicals, so:

  • Create a spray with water and an organic insecticide soap. Spray your plant leaves. If the plant is small and potted, you can take the plant into the shower to gentle wash the leaves. Note: soap may damage your plants, so start by testing the spray on just a few leaves.
  • Spider mites lay their eggs on the leaves undersides. So, ensure that your spray is focused there.
  • Spider mites prosper in dry conditions. Ensure the air surrounding your plants is humid, as this is great to preventing pests. You can also regularly mist your plants to prevent mites. Try using a humidifier.
  • Another excellent way to control infestations is neem oil. It’s fairly cheap and it can be pre-mixed with a hot pepper wax spray or a horticultural oil.