White mites, which can infest houseplants and outdoor plants, cause foliage to wilt and turn yellow. These white arachnids, also known as spider mites, are notoriously difficult to find. Strands of silky web dangling from leaves are the first sign of white mites on houseplants. Webbing between leaves and stems, as well as masses of tiny white bugs beneath plant leaves, are common symptoms of heavy white mite infestation.
With the naked eye, white mites are nearly undetectable. Because of the tiny light-colored dots, identifying the pests may be difficult. But, two-spotted white spider mites have tiny legs and two antennae when viewed up close. They have a transparent clear-white oval body.
White mites are tiny creatures, but they can wreak havoc on your beloved indoor plants. This article covers everything you need to know about identifying white mites on houseplants. Even though they are so tiny, you’ll learn how to identify evidence of white mites. Additionally, you’ll discover how to eliminate white mites for good using natural techniques.
White Mites (Tetranychus urticae) Facts
White mites belong to the Arachnida genus Tetranychus and are females of two-spotted spider mites. Houseplants and outdoor plants are both susceptible to the plant-feeding mite. White mites are difficult to identify before they become a problem because the tiny clear white bugs are barely visible to the naked eye.
White mites aren’t an insect, they’re a kind of parasite. Instead of being eight-legged arthropods like spiders and ticks, they are. These creatures may be translucent white, tan, dark green, or red in color. White mites suck plant fluids from plant tissues, causing damage.
White mites bite into leaves and stems with their piercing-sucking mouthparts, which are tiny. Leaf yellowing occurs as a consequence, and the leaves may degrade brown. Total defoliation is possible with a severe white mite infestation.
What Do White Spider Mites Look Like?
White mites have a body that is pear-shaped and translucent, with a pair of black marks at the rear of their body. The little insects are about the size of a grain of salt and measure 0.016″ (0.4 mm). The mites have eight spiky legs and a tiny head when seen under a magnifying lens.
The presence of the spider mite’s characteristic spots can be used to determine if you’re looking at a two-spotted spider mite. The dark patches on the transparent white back of the two-spotted bug are what give it that name. A black stripe on the inside edge of its body may be visible under a magnifying lens.
Little red spots circulating around or underneath houseplant leaves are an example of something you may see. The insects could be red spider mites in that scenario.
White Mites Life Cycle
A white mite starts life as a microscopic white pearl-shaped egg. After that, six-legged micro larvae emerge. The mites acquire a second set of legs during the two nymphal stages. The life cycle of a white mite takes between five and twenty days.
A mature white mite may lay hundreds of eggs during its lifespan, which may last up to four weeks. White mites breed fast under hot, dry circumstances. Just 12 hours after becoming an adult, a female mite may start laying eggs. Temperature, humidity, and plant variety, on the other hand, influence how many eggs she produces.
How to Identify White Mites
A lemon plant with white spider mite damage (left). Sweet pepper plant has been damaged by white mites (right). White mites on plants can also be identified by looking for webbing and evidence of plant damage. Before you see the mites, white mites create delicate silky webs that you may observe dangling. In a severe infestation, however, bigger webs are covered in crawling white mites.
Observing plant damage can also aid in the identification of white mites. The juice is sucked from plant tissue by tiny white-spotted mites. As a consequence, the leaves turn brown or yellow. You can almost certainly assume your plant has white mites if you see strands of silk on the leaves.
A 10x magnifying lens is the best way to identify white mites. White dots may be seen under the leaves if you look carefully. A white mite has two blackish markings on either side of its posterior, along with a tear-shaped body. White round mite eggs may also be seen in leaf joints and beneath leaves, as well as on twigs.
White Mite Plant Damage
The tiny white bugs on the sticky webs are spider mites, which damage plants by piercing leaves with their mouthparts and sucking out the liquid. Speckled or stippled patterns on leaves are the first symptom of plant damage. White mites may cause yellowing or browning of the leaves, leaf loss, and even plant death as a result of their damage.
Plants that are under duress are more likely to be infested with white mites. As a result, by not overwatering or overfertilizing plants, you can avoid plant damage. Additionally, to help avoid white mite plant damage, plants should be exposed to adequate sunlight and air circulation.
Check your plants for indications of white mite infestation on a regular basis to help prevent white mite damage. Next, before they do any more harm, rid your houseplants of white mites with quick movements.
White mites do something different to plants. Bacteria and fungus can also infect plants through the tiny holes mites create on their leaves. This may cause plants to appear sick and unappealing as a result of foliar infections.
Where Do White Mites Come From?
White mites can be found all over the place. Nonetheless, bringing freshly purchased infested plants into the house is the most prevalent way for them to get onto your homeplants. Unfortunately, small white insects may live in your houseplants or on potting soil that has been contaminated in the summer.
While bringing home infested plants is the most prevalent way for the little insects to enter your residence, there are other ways. Suppose you saw infested plants in a local garden center, for example. In some cases, you may find that they are inadvertently residing on your clothing.
During dry, hot summers, white mites frequently infest outdoor plants or greenhouse crops. As a result, your pet’s hair might transport the pesky little arachnids indoors.
How to Get Rid of White Mites
It’s a multi-step process to get rid of white mites. Isolation is the first step in white mite eradication. It’s also a smart idea to utilize natural pesticides to get rid of little white insects on plants. A neem oil spray, insecticidal soap, and rubbing alcohol are three powerful white mite control methods.
Using chemicals to kill white mites is not recommended for a variety of reasons. Pesticides may also include hazardous chemicals, which may be harmful. In addition, white mites may develop resistance to pesticides used in commercial agriculture, making them more difficult to get rid of.
Natural insecticides, on the other hand, may be just as effective at eliminating white mite problems. Let’s take a closer look at how to get rid of white mites for good in the most efficient and cost-effective ways.
Prune Affected Leaves to Get Rid of White Mites
Removing afflicted plant leaves and stems is the first step to getting rid of white mites naturally. After that, cut away any silky webbing-covered stems and leaves. Finally, toss the cuttings in the trash outside or destroy them. You avoid infecting other houseplants or decorative garden shrubs by doing this.
White mites may be as tiny as 0.2 mm long, which is about 1/50 of an inch. As a result, they may be lurking around the houseplant. Thus, regardless of whether the plant looks healthy or not, it’s important to apply a natural white mite spray to the remainder of the plant.
Shower Plants to Remove White Mites
Rinsing the leaves in the shower is a simple way to remove white mites from houseplants. Just place the plant in your bathtub and shower the leaves. This should be enough to get the destructive mites down your plant and out of your house. White mites can be eradicated from outdoor plants by hosing shrubs, trees, and flowering plants.
Any bushes or trees with evidence of white spider mite damage should be sprayed with hose. You will also eliminate any other plant-destroying creatures from the plants at the same time.
Neem Oil to Kill White Mites
To kill white mites on houseplants, spray the plants with neem oil combined with a little Castile soap and water. Azadirachtin is a natural insecticide that inhibits pests from reproducing and is found in natural neem oil spray. Spray the neem oil solution on the infected plants once every seven days to ensure maximum efficacy.
Combine two teaspoons neem oil and one teaspoon Castile soap with a quart (1 l) of water to make a neem oil spray. To mix the ingredients, fill a spray bottle with the solution and shake. Spray the leaves with the spray on both sides and apply it to all of the leaves on an infected plant to eliminate the pests for good.
The efficacy of using neem oil products to manage two-spotted spider mites has been confirmed by multiple scientific studies. Several mite species are killed by neem oil, for example. Moreover, when used often, the active components in natural substances have a repulsive impact and interrupt a white mite’s life cycle.
Insecticidal Soap To Eradicate White Mites
If a white mite infestation is eliminated using a simple soap solution, it may have insecticidal properties. Houseplant pests can be eliminated without using chemicals by combining vegetable oil with pure liquid soap and mixing it with water. Moreover, you’ll save yourself the trouble of spraying harmful chemicals in your house.
Make a basic combination by combining one cup of vegetable oil with a tbsp of liquid Castile soap to make an insecticidal soap. Dose one quart (1 l) of warm water with two teaspoons of the base mixture to eliminate white mite activity in houseplants. Next, use a strong spray to kill plant pests on the foliage.
You may also cleanse diseased plant leaves with a fresh cloth dipped in the cleansing solution. Bugs, small arachnids, insects, and mites are coated in soap and oil. The fatty acids eat away at the mites’ bodies, killing them as a result of this suffocating effect.
Use Diatomaceous Earth to Control White Mites
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a pesticide powder that may be utilized to eliminate spider mites. Because of its abrasive properties, DE causes arachnids’ bodies to dehydrate, killing spider mites. Diatomaceous earth is safe to utilize in the home and around pets, which is great news.
Food-grade DE is used to kill white mites by using it. To begin with, wear a face mask to keep from inhaling it. Sprinkle the white powder on withered plant soil and leaves. To dust the powder onto the undersides of leaves, you may need to use a brush. For the best results, reapply every few days.
It’s important to keep in mind that DE loses its efficacy when it gets wet. So just apply diatomaceous earth when it’s dry outside and reapply after it rains, if you’re using it as a pesticide or miticide for outdoor plants.
Vinegar Spray to Kill White Mites
A vinegar spray may be used to kill white mites right away. Mix 1/4 cup of vinegar and a quart (1 liter) of water to create a mite control spray. Next, add a tbsp of baking soda and a few drops of dish soap made without chemicals. It’s a good idea to shake the bottle vigorously before using it. Spider mites can be eliminated by spraying all plant leaves with insecticide.
Rosemary Oil Spray to Eradicate White Mites
Natural sprays using essential oils with miticidal activity can be used to eliminate white mites. Rosemary oil, for example, is said to be effective in the eradication of two-spotted spider mites from particular crops. Moreover, the natural spray is harmless to people and animals, as well as agricultural plants.
Mix a teaspoon of high-quality rosemary oil with a quart (1 l) of water to create a natural spray for white mites. Coat both sides of afflicted plant leaves with the spray. For optimum outcomes, use every week. If the rosemary oil concentration seems insufficient, try increasing it.
Rubbing Alcohol to Kill White Mites on Contact
White mites on plants may be controlled using rubbing alcohol. Mix one part rubbing alcohol and one part water to make an insecticide spray. If you see white mites or evidence of webbing on plants, apply spray. Use it every few days until you’ve eliminated all traces of white mite activity.
Instead, clean the infected leaves with 70% isopropyl on a soft cloth. Plant bugs may be killed by rubbing alcohol on them. Remember to test the strength of the alcohol on a little leaf region before applying it to the plants.
How to Prevent White Mites
To avoid tiny, creeping plant-eating white mites from destroying your houseplants, it is essential to take preventative measures. In order to avoid the common nuisance, it’s important to ensure optimum plant health. You can, however, take additional steps to prevent white mite infestations.
Keep humidity high to prevent white mites
Dry conditions and arid soil are ideal for white mites. As a result, to avoid spider mite complications, it is essential to ensure that tropical houseplants and other indoor plants have enough humidity. Spider mites are kept at bay by using a humidifying device or keeping houseplants on a pebble and water tray.
To keep houseplants healthy, it’s also important to use proper watering procedures. Plants that are over watered or drowned may attract pests like mites and gnats. As a result, whenever the top 1″ to 2″ (2.5 – 5 cm) of soil is dry, water houseplants are usually only used. After that, thoroughly moisten the potting soil through the drainage holes before pouring it in.
Check new plants for white mite webbing
By inspecting fresh plants for white mite activity, you can avoid bringing pests into your home. Look for silky webs, yellow or brown patches on leaves, or tiny white, green, or red dots under leaves in the garden center or plant shop.
When you bring a new plant home, it’s usually a good idea to quarantine it for two weeks. It’s also to see if there are any white mites. Yet, other pest infestations such as aphids, mealybugs, thrips, scale insects, and fungus gnats can be avoided by monitoring closely.
In addition, pests can infest houseplants that are kept out during the summer. As a result, quarantine them for two weeks before placing them alongside other houseplants.
Wipe plant leaves regularly to prevent white mite infestations
Clean your houseplants weekly to prevent white mites and other plant-damaging insects from infesting them. There are three reasons to clean houseplant leaves.
First, a damp cloth is used to remove little mites and other pests from the leaves before any harm can be done. Second, wiping tropical houseplant leaves helps to keep plants healthy. Wiping leaves removes dust, keeping them looking bright.