How do I control spider mites on houseplants?


How do I control spider mites on houseplants?


Spider mites are a common pest of houseplants.  Spider mites use piercing-sucking mouthparts to puncture the plant tissue and feed on the liquid within the cells.  In light infestations, the foliage appears to be speckled with very tiny yellowish green spots.  Heavy mite infestations can turn the foliage to greenish yellow and eventually tan or brown.  Heavily infested plants often drop their leaves.  Close examination of infested plants may reveal very fine webbing produced by the mites on the leaves and stems. 

When mites are present, determine the extent of the infestation and the value of the plant.  It’s usually best to discard a plant that is heavily infested with spider mites.  Small mite populations can be reduced by washing or syringing infested plant foliage.  Move plants outdoors or into the bathtub or shower and then use a forceful spray of water to dislodge the mites from the infested plant. 

Several miticides (pesticides that control mites) are available for houseplants.  Check with your local nursery or garden center.  When using pesticides, carefully read and follow label instructions.  Keep plants watered and fertilized to promote health and vigor and to reduce the impact of mite feeding.