Do Your Plants Have Spider Mites? Updated : November 20, 2014 71 Comments Do your plants have spider mites? Take a gander at these posts...Pruning Azalea BushesDo You Have Shotgun Fungus?How To Identify Poison IvyTree Pruning Tips and My 5-Year ExperimentPruning Rose Bushes
breeda field says
Hi Mike I live in Ireland I have 14 thuja smaragd trees on my drive way they are 30 years old, and 18ft in height they are very healthy looking, however about 6 months I noticed one of them going brown, and needles falling I was disgusted , now the tree is dead, and the same thing is appearing in 3 more, cannot believe it as they are 30 years, and they act as a privacy screen, they were maintenance free . I would like to know what’s happening to my beautiful trees
That’s a difficult call but I would look for spider mites. Soil changes???
Thanks Mike another informational gem…Nana’s Nursery Silver Springs,, Florida
dennis james says
I pulled up my elephant ear bulb to replant next spring and in doing so the tops of my hands started burning and itching as if i was being bit by 100 ants but nothing on my hands. The next day i had developed a rash and now, a few days later my arns, hands and sides of my face are covered in little red VERY VERY itchy bumps. Did i catch a mite?
It sounds like you had an allergic reaction to the elephant ear sap – many people do.
Mites that attack plants will not also attack people – not that I’m aware of at least.
You should try to wear gloves when handling elephant ears, and if any juice or sap gets on your skin, wash it off quickly and thoroughly.
Best of luck to you.
Also wanted to add this, just saw it when looking up over-wintering elephant ears :
NOTE: Please be aware that elephant ear bulbs and leaves contain calcium oxalate, or oxalic acid, which may cause skin irritation and burning in sensitive individuals. Always use care when handling these plants.
Kurt Wolfmeyer says
You may want to add that when you wash a plant with soaps, oils or even plain water, to make sure you get the underside of the branches and leaves. Spider Mites and many other pests like to hide under a leaf where they will not get hit by rain. Its also a good idea to start “washing” the plant from the top and work down so the pest does not have a chance to fall to a lower leaf and find a safe place.
Vicky Schlembach says
Thanks so much for your GREAT tips!!!
HELP…I have some Jade plants that all of a sudden started haveing the leaves shriveling up and I see little white specks on them. Don’t want to loose them. After viewing your spider mites video, I don’t think they are spider mites. What is the problem. It’s not under watering.
Eagerly awaiting your for your response.
Thanks So Much,
Vicky, I really can’t say for sure, but make sure you are not over watering the plant. That can be worse than under watering.
Kurt Wolfmeyer says
Mike is right, it may be in part to over watering. The white spots MIGHT be a type of fungus forming due to too much water and/or not enough light. Jades are a succulent and don’t mind drying out for short periods of time. Try changing the soil to one that is designed for cactus (I’ve found bonsai soils work great)and move it to a brighter location with indirect light. Rule of thumb for a tropical plant that like bright light is if you can read a book there without a light its a good spot.
Thanks, Mike, for the spider mite info. I have a constant problem with my tomato plants each year in my vegetable garden. The leaves turn yellow and then brown. Any tomatoes start to rot on the bottom surfaces with eventual death to the plant. Can you tell me the problem and solution? Thanks.
mike i can not see the video on the spider mites there is no link there for me to go to
You may need to install Adobe Flash on your internet browser or…
adjust your browser’s security settings to allow the videos to show.
John F. Fitzsimmons says
Is that whats killing my ceder trees
Kurt Wolfmeyer says
Sorry but with out actually looking at the tree its hard to say what it is. Just watch your cedars, if they turn a redish brown you might have what is know as Apple Cedar Rust. Another problem will be easy to spot and that will be cocoons on the dying branches that look like that are made from the tree itself. If you see the cocoons then you have Bagworms. And yes it could be spider mites as well
Is that what destroys mints and oregano?
Not sure if this is helpful for a large outdoor plant, but on my indoor ones, I created this mixture that works just fine. (I originally mixed it up for a couple outdoor rosebushes that were being eaten alive by something.) Lavender baby shampoo, mint extract (McCormick’s – the stuff you have in the kitchen – the mint one is a mix of peppermint and spearmint), and vegetable oil (like for cooking). Mix with water in a spray bottle, spray plant liberally (after doing a patch test of course.) Worked slick for me. Although I never saw any spider mites return after the first spraying, I did 3 successive treatments a few days apart. I also sprayed the soil surface lightly in case any were lurking. I’m sorry I don’t remember the quantities. I had a quart spray bottle, and I’d guess no more than a tablespoon, or so of each ingredient. (Beware getting the scent of it on your hands, it lingers obnoxiously)
Thanks Lynn. I tried and tried to rid my Hydrangea from mites, I think your mixture got rid of them and they are getting beautiful new leaves. I like the smell too.
Any further info on rust or moldy type disease?
I have a question about azaleas. The leaves look like they are coated with something brown. They look unhealthy. We live in Texas and this has gone on for months.
I live in New Orleans, LA. This past spring and summer I tried to grow some veggies for the 1st time in over twenty yrs. Purchased organic soil for a raised bed garden. Started with tomatoes, bell peppers, okra, basil, rosemary, parsley, zuchinni, and Ichabod eggplant. The stink bugs and some sort of green hookworms took over my garden and even my Meyer lemon tree had some huge red, white and beige looking worm with black horns on it. The heat was also and overwhelming factor. Although nothing produced very well except the basil, the eggplant is finally producing small produce, I would call them miniature. After viewing your video on spider mites, I believe these might have been and are a source of my garden’s problem. The leaves on the eggplant get yellow spots and eventually die, I have noticed very thing spider webs in the garden. My question is once the eggplants stop producing should I get rid of the soil and start next spring with fresh oganic soil. I plan to cut the basil back it is growing wild, and transplant it to individual pots. Will the stink bugs reinfest the basil and any other plants (my garden) next year. Do the hookworns and other infeastious bugs lay eggs in the soil or do the eggs drop in the soil and infest the soil. These may seem like silly questions, but I don’t know and haven’t been able to get answers from my own research.
Here is information on stink bugs:
Jo Peckinpaugh says
Mike, you are such a blessing to us! What an incredible world we would have if EVERYONE who had a talent, would share it as you and your family have done! thanks so much Mike — you’ve opened up a whole new world to a couple of retired city folks HA! Bless you!!
Jo, thank you. That is very kind of you.
Geri Sears says
I am still wondering what to do about spider mites on my indoor plants. I have been spraying rubbing acholol and dash of dawn and water but it doesn’t seemed to do any good. these plants I can’t remember the name of them they have long stems and look like palm trees. I really am worried about them. Can you help me.
This is off topic, but driving me crazy. My dozen or so , 3-5 year old red maples get leaf dying ever year just after spring. All the edges dry up and die as if they aren’t getting water. I’ve tried insecticide ,watering more often. Nothing seems to work. It was really bad this summer. Sometimes new leaves will regrow nice and red ,only to look like they dried out not soon after. I used potting soil I’ve tried moving them to a shady, sunny and part sunny location. Can you give me any advice? Thank you,
How great it is to have our personal plant doctor in you. And your free service is a blessing.
My problem this time is from an “Exotic Palm House Minature Plant” given to me.It says I am a
Palm Neanthe Bella, Chamaedorea elegans It is supposed to purify the air as well as calm senses.( I doubt this one does)
However it ‘s leaves turn white then brown and are easily removed . It was bushy when received but now only has about 5 stems. I noticed today many small puff balls on top of soil and after scratching soil around the roots more and many, many entangled in among the root tops. They are a bit bigger than peppercorns and when squashed sem to be empty.
I know you don’t do houseplants but I have full faith in your expertise. Thank you
thank you for all of your advises. Like all the others this one too has been very helpfull!
Hi Mike…First of all I love your videos…they are so informative…thank you so much!
I have two Hibiscus plants that I keep outdoors all summer. When the temp gets below 55 at night I bring them in for the winter (southern Michigan). I have noticed very fine webs on the plants occasionally, both indoors and out, which I remove, and the leaves turn yellow and fall off…I’m assuming this would be from spider mites? Would I use the same process as on your video to keep them away or is there a spray I could use get rid of them? Also these plants bloom all through the winter months…is that normal?
Thanks for sharing Mike!
Mike I have a clematis that needs transplanting to another sunnier part of the yard. Any advise as to when the best time to do this is and what can I do to prevent the most amount of shock to it. It is my understanding they don’t like transplanting very much. I live in Massachusetts and am not sure when to do this. I also have never cut it back and I have finally gotten huge purple flowers on it. What do you recommend?
The rampant grapes sound like wild fox grapes, with tiny blue-black fruit and smaller leaves than a Concord would have. If so, no amount of pruning will make the fruit grow larger! They’re a wild fruit, very tart/sour, although some years they might be sweeter than usually… nothing like a Concord, though! The ones I’ve sampled here in upstate NY only have 2 seeds in each, and are about 3/8″ in diameter, or smaller. The vines smother trees, growing up and over the tops of the canopies in a manner reminiscent of kudzu in the Deep South.
The white “foam” on evergreens could be the adelgid critter that’s infesting them in New York. I just moved here from Colorado last month, and have seen these mealybug-look-alike guys for the first time. Trunks of some trees look like they’ve been sprayed with that white “flocking” gunk you see at Christmas time, and the sucking adelgid bugs evidently carry a bacteria or fungus with which they contaminate the tree, then the tree dies. Boy, if it’s not one bug, it’s another! The miracle is that ANYTHING lives! The emerald ash borer is so bad here, the state patrol will stop people hauling firewood on the highways, to see where they brought it from and are taking it to – you aren’t allowed to take any firewood more than 50 miles, for fear of carrying bugs with it, contaminating new areas.
Can preen be applied now to prevent weeds in the spring?
Is alpaca manure a good fertlizer and when should it be applied?
kristen Hi Mike,As a hopeful but pretty clueless gardner I really enjoy your tips for healthy backyards. I am wondering if you could help me with what goes wrong every summer with my honeysuckel vine. Every year, no matter the weather, it gets yellow with says
Thanks for the bug video. Found it informative.
Have a question for you. Do you have any information on how to re-domesticate grapes??
I have grapes (I believe they are Concord) growing on my property line. They have killed a few trees and have taken over the hedge row.
I would like to cut them back and control their growth and maybe get them to produce useable fruit.
My plan is to cut a natural arch in the hedgerow and see if I can also create a natural arbor.
Any advise you have would be appreciated.
My advice is to cut away. Best to wait until they are dormant, but I’d cut as much as want. Grapes are vigorous, they’ll re grow, and the only thing they know how to do is flower and make fruit. But if they vines are growing wildly out of control you are lacking air flow, sunlight to the produce vines, and way too many grapes for the plant to support. I’m sure they make fruit but it probably doesn’t mature the way it should.
Reduce the amount of vegetation so the plant can actually nuture what fruit it produces.
On the ever greens if there is a bad infestation what will do and how does the tree ack. The ever greens my dad planted have a white looking foam on them around where the leam come off from the base, is this it or is it something else.
Judy, that’s something else, could be a scale type insect. You’ll have to determine exactly what kind of evergreen you have then do some research on pests that attack that particular plant.
JERRY WARD says
MIKE I HAVE A 30″ GRACE ALBRITTION CAMELLIA THAT HAS SMALL WHITE BALLS ON A COUPLE OF THE BRANCHES ,WHAT COULD THIS BE . THIS IS THE FIRST YEAR OF BUDS FOR ME ON THIS PLANT. I PURCHASED IT LAST YEAR FULL OF BUDS AND HAD NO FLOWERS AT BLOOME TIME THE JUST FELL OFF .THE PLANT LOOKS HEALTHY SO I HOPE IT IS NOT SERIOUS!! THANKS JERRY WARD
I can’t be sure, but those balls could be seed pods. As long as the plant looks healthy, just give it some time and it will bloom. The more fertilize and try and over care for the plant the more confused it gets.
Nancy Wallace says
Wow, I have been looking for at least 3 years why my spruce trees were getting thinner and thinner. Tried the white paper, but after watching the video I see I didn’t hit the branch hard enough and I didn’t use a magnifier! Well, my 30 spruce trees are pretty thin, but at least now I know what to do. Thank you so much!
Bill Yost says
Thank you so much for the information. I had misidentified mites as a fungus infection and wondered why the treatment didn’t work!
Bonnie from PA says
Thank you Mike for all the useful info that you post. I really enjoy your emails and have shared them with my friends. Keep up the great work. Happy Gardening.
Thank you, I appreciate you sharing those Emails with others.
Geri Sears says
Thank you, I can’t take them outside, they are too heavy, so i guess the plant store will be it. thankyou
Geri Sears says
I have spider mites on a couple of my house plants, What can I do for that. I don’t know the name of my plant, but it looks like a tall palm tree. I have sprayed Rubbing Acohol and a drop of dish soap. Am I doing right, it doesn’t seemed to help though. Geri
Geri, I’m no wiz with house plants, but I’d rinse best I could with soapy water with as much pressue as you can in the house. Or go to a garden center and see what they recommend for indoor use.
Roy Harrow says
We have lots of problems with spider mites on my cymbidium orchids. My identification method is to wrap a white tissue around the leaf,gently pressing both the top and bottom with your fingers and slide the tissue off the leaf. If you see very short tiny red smears the width of a hair, these were spider mites. My safest treatment is to add a bottle ammonia based of window cleaner to an empty gallon jug, then add a small bottle of alcohol from the dollar store to the same jug, then fill with water. mix and put it back in the spray bottle the window cleaner came in. Mark the bottle for insects. The alcohol and window cleaner soak past their waxy coating so it can suffocate the insects. This is the same formula that some graduate student came up with for wind shield cleaner in North Carolina for their Master’s thesis. I believe their coast has some of the buggiest highways in the nation.
There are Non-dormant prophylactic sprays beside insecticidal soaps, and some biologists like Neem oil but do not use them more to often and follow directions to the letter. Even too many applications of them can cause your plants stomata to plug shut. When all else fails you can consider systemics but never on edible plants.
Enjoyed your video thanks for the information
Thanks, that’s nice of you.
Becky saunders says
Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.
Rob Giles says
Hi Mike, Thanks for all of the info but i have a problem with moles, they are destroying my yard. Is there any way to get rid of them.
Mike has an article on his http://freeplants.com/ website that explains how to get rid of moles. You can find the
article here: http://freeplants.com/moles.htm
Rob, Kathy recommended a good article for you, but I also need to do a video on moles and skunks.
moles eat bugs……….voles [about the same size as moles] eat roots.
Maxine Miller says
Great video on the spider mites. We have a problem in our yard that hopefully you can help us with. When we walk in it, we get black all over our feet and it is hard to wash off. Even after a rain it is still there. We have had normal precipitation but, some of the grass (weeds?) is dying and really brittle. We take our dog out and her feet get so black you have to wash them in soap and water to get it off. Can you help? Thanks
Maxine, it sounds to me like you have some kind of mold or mildew issue. We get something similar here during the hot and humid months of the summer, except your shoes turn orange. It’s called rust. I’d venture to say that you have something similar. I’d recommend more air circulation and possible aeration. You don’t say what kind of grass you have or what climate you’re in.
I am so glad to see this info on the spider mites. We live in a wooded area near a lake and have serious problems with insects and spiders, particularly poisonous spiders and spider mites and strange bugs we have no idea what they are — along with horrific vines that seem to grow overnight. The awful thing about all this too, is that the “bugs” will spread from yard to yard. Your email newsletters are extremely beneficial and I appreciate them so much. Keep up the good work!
Charles E. Akers says
Great information, Mike!
GARY BOBBETT - says
MIKE – there was no information attached or included wirh “Spider Mites”.
Gary, there was a video on this page, maybe you didn’t let it load.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
Another great way to tell if you have spider mites….
Feel the undersides of the leaves, on your plants…
(If you suspect the little buggers.)
The leaves will feel sandy to the touch, (on the backside of the leaves.)
Indoor ivy plants are notorious for this plant pest.
And cause the leaves to have tiny white dots looking like heavy dust on the top of the leaves.
The plant will start to get brown on the edges of the leaves, then the leaves will fall off. If you don’t catch these early on they will kill your ivy.
Another way to tell if you have these crazy tiny critters…
Is to lightly mist the plant with water from a (hand misting) spray bottle.
You will able to see their tiny little webs, down where the branches attach to the main stem or stems. If they are really bad you will be able to see their little webs without the misting of water.
You must be very careful to clean your gardening pruners, well with soap and water so as not to spread these little guys.
I am even careful not to expose my other plants, to my clothing if I have been working on spider mite infested plants.
Another plant that had problems with spider mites this year were the butterfly bushes.
I work in a Garden Store/Nursery a we had the butterfly bushes come in, infested with spider-mites. I purchases several from our distressed table and the ladybugs in my garden were over joyed to see the juicy little morsels, with our severe drought in Indiana this year.
I hope this helped.
Skeeter, thanks for the good advice. I did forget to mention the webs.
geraldine dunn says
thank you so much, I have had this problem a lot this year, can I do anything to get them before it starts.
I have an Angel Trumpet I planted just this year every time it gets leaves something eats them, when it gets more they are eaten also I thought it might be the spider mite but after watching the video I don’t think so can you help me ? there are no droppings around the bush
and I don’t see anything on the leaves before they are eaten
Bet the moths are laying eggs. Since they are active @ night, you probably aren’t going to see it happen. The eggs hatch, the caterpillars eat at night & hide during the daytime. They’ll not kill the angen trumpet……it’s just unsightly, An all season horticultural oil applied in the morning will take care of them…….so will bacillus thurgensis, a natural pesticide that won’t hurt you or pets.
Reva, I have been growing angels trumpets for probably 10 or 15 years. Mine get spider mites every year. They dont usually show up heavy enough to be detected until fall when I bring them inside for the winter, then they go into full force and start killing all the foliage. I have never lost a plant due to the mites but they are a pain. I usually treat them with a little dishsoap and water in a spray bottle, or a rose and fruit tree insecticide spray. If really heavily infested, I put it in the shower and wash it of with the shower head or spray off with a hose outside before treating. Also a good idea to remove foliage that is affected even if you remove all of it, it wont hurt them at all. Water them well and the foliage will bounce right back in a couple weeks.
Hope this helps 🙂
Thank you Toby I also have a Trumpet i just love them. But i think mine has white fly i think they are so tiny and white but they sure can hurt a plant in little time i am spraying with soap and have used insecticide soaps as well. I do not want to lose it it is just beautiful huge yellow with a touch of orange blossoms. Can you give me any advice for holding over winter in house i live in Wisconsin? Will it come back next year if i bring it in? thanks for your help and have a great day.