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Facts about Spider Mites

Spider Mite close-up

What are they?

Because it has eight legs and spins a web you just might think it was a spider, but in fact Spider Mites are only distantly related to spiders, and are more like ticks, only VERY much smaller. And to make things confusing, they sometimes only have 6 legs in part of their life-cycle, (you will need at least a small hand lense 10-20x to see them). Or, just hold some white paper under a leaf and tap it. If you can see tiny specks trying to scurry away to the underside of the paper then yes, you have mites!

The small spherical eggs are initially transparent, and many species spin silk webs which help protect the colony from predators; hence 'spider' mite.

There are many similar species e.g. Two-Spotted Spider Mite, Pacific Spider Mite and Strawberry Spider Mite, but their general behaviour is the same and they are virtually indistinguishable in the field.

When do they strike?

When conditions are dry and warm, they will multiply rapidly and very soon your plants will be covered with tiny pale spots, leaves will begin to look stippled and unhealthy, or get a bronze sheen. If left unchecked plants will become unhealthy or eventually die.

What do they eat?

Spider mites aren't all that fussy and will attack many hundreds of different plant species. They destroy the epidermal cells of the plant and leave small yellow dots on the leaf surface, gradually reducing its ability to photosynthesize. Able to attack 100 plant cells per hour, and complete a life cycle in under a week in ideal conditions, spider mite infestations can cause serious crop damage in a very short time if allowed to go unchecked.

Where do they occur?

If you grow indoors, then chances are, sooner or later, you will be infested by Spider mites. Outdoor growers are a little bit more protected by natural elements, like rain and cold, which will help to limit the mite's numbers, but when conditions are right spider mite populations will explode.

How do you kill Spider Mites?

Not being insects, Spider Mites are not killed by many insecticides, which is why a specialised miticide like Mite-Rid is essential for the eradication of this plant pest.

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