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Treating and Preventing Spider Mite Infestations

Unleash your plants' full potential with these tips and techniques for combating spider mite infestations.

March 28, 2024

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What are Spider Mites?

Spider mites are tiny arachnids that feed on the juice of plant and tree leaves. They live in colonies and reproduce quickly, usually in 1-2 weeks. They lay eggs under silk webbing on the underside of leaves, and once hatched, those eggs can produce upwards of a thousand baby spider mites. These pests are often difficult to detect with the naked eye, making early detection and prevention crucial for effective management.  

According to Ohio State University, the twospotted, European red, honeylocust, maple, and oak spider mites do best in dry, hot summer weather. Whereas the spruce and southern spider mites thrive in cool spring and fall weather. 

Impact of Spider Mites on Plants

Spider mites feed on plant sap by piercing the epidermis and sucking out the contents of individual cells. This feeding behavior weakens plants and disrupts their ability to perform essential functions such as photosynthesis and nutrient uptake. Some common signs of spider mite infestation include yellowing leaves, stippling or tiny dots on the foliage, webbing, and leaf drop. Sever infestations can cause plant defoliation and in some cases, death. 

Factors Influencing Spider Mite Infestations

Several factors contribute to the development and spread of spider mite infestations. These include environmental conditions such as high temperatures, low humidity, and drought stress, all of which favor spider mite reproduction and population growth. Additionally, monocultures, and the absence of regular monitoring and preventative measures can exacerbate infestation problems. 

How to Treat an Infestation 

When it comes to treating spider mite infestations, there are several approaches you can take. Techniques like washing plants with water, using high-pressure sprays, or physically removing infested leaves can reduce mite populations. Encouraging natural predators such as ladybugs, lacewings, and predatory mites has also been found to be an effective treatment method. However, if you do decide to introduce predators, avoid applying pesticides that will kill them. 

Regular monitoring of plants is essential for early detection of spider mites. Implementing preventive measures, such as maintaining proper plant hygiene, avoiding over-fertilization, and using resistant plant varieties can help prevent future infestations and ultimately save you time and money down the line. 

Chemical Control

Most spider mites can be controlled with horticultural oil treatments. Treatments applied evenly over the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves and stems of plants produce the best results. Researchers at Ohio State University have found that horticultural oils can be used on perennial and woody ornamentals during the summer, but they recommend you avoid spraying flowers, as this can cause damage. Check for pests 14 to 21 days after initial application, and if pest activity persists, a repeat application may be necessary. It is important to follow all label directions before proceeding with treatment. 

Consider using LESCO Horticultural Oil Insecticide to combat spider mite infestations. Its high-quality nutrients with exact quality specifications are tailored to combat spider mite infestations. Our advanced testing methods ensure the utmost effectiveness in treating spider mites while preserving plant health. LESCO also promotes the healthiest green environment, promoting sustainability with every application. 

Another option to consider is the Ultra-Pure Oil Horticultural Oil. Ultra-Pure can be used alone or within a tank-mix, emits virtually no odor, and possesses no post-harvest restrictions. It’s formulated with 99 percent unsulfurated residue, guaranteeing broad-spectrum control of insects, mites, and fungus. 

If the infestation persists after horticultural oil treatments, stop by your local branch to learn about chemical products that are available for customers with a pesticide license. 

Choose SiteOne 

SiteOne associates, both in branch and online, are available to answer any questions. Pick up spider mite treatments at or on the SiteOne mobile app today.

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