Gardening Magazine

What is a Spider Mite?

By Stoopidj @spidermitehq

Spider Mite Basics

The spider mite is a member of the Acari Family, is an extremely common, hardy, plant eater.  There are 1200+ differnent species of spider mite.  Each differing in their area of habitat, climate, diet, life cycle, etc.  This is a generalized basic run down of the mite.

Spider mites are extremely small, normally less than 1 mm wide.  In order to make looking for them you should use a Lighted Pocket Microscope in order to REALLY see these tiny red spiders.

Mites come in many colors, from green to red, brown and spotted.  There are so many different varieties, it can be difficult to identify spider mites easily. To top it off, there are also a different type of pest called “false mites” or “false spider mites” .

The spider mite egg

Spider Mites lay round clear eggs that will turn a milky then yellow before hatching.  These eggs will hatch in 3 days to 3 weeks depending on environmental conditions.  When the temperature is between 85 – 90 degrees Fahrenheit and conditions are very dry, spider mites will multiply exponentially.

Mite mothers lay about 20 eggs a day from the ripe old age of 5 days.  These same mothers mites can then live to be between 2-4 weeks old.  Meaning, that mother mites can lay hundreds of eggs resulting in over a million mites in less than a month if left unchecked.

Spider Mite life cycle

Mites develop resistances quickly because they have such high birth rates, that mutations , such as resistance to Insecticides or tolerance to cold, are multiplied quickly.  Every month about 10 generations of mites will be born.  Leading to exagerations in any form of resistance.

Spider Mites do have natural enemies, these predator insects can eat 5  or more mites a day or up to 20 eggs.  Lady bugs, predator mites, and praying mantis are just a few examples of great natural enemies.

Spider Mite Defenses

The tiny mites do have one defense for predators, that would be, the webs that they spin.  These webs highly resemble spider webs, hence the name “spider” mite.  Mites also use these webs to quickly move from one branch to another. Making it easier for them to eat fresh foliage.

The spider mite egg is also extremely difficult to kill.  This shell is a hard protein that doesnt allow much through.

Mite Resistance

Most chemicals used against mites only work on the adult mite and not the spider mite egg.  Treating your plants every 3 days for 3 weeks will truly beat spider mites back.  You just want to make sure that you are switching the chemical being used as well as its “Mode of action” or “mechanism of action”

Furthermore, when treating for mites, make sure that they are all dead before you give up the fight.  If you miss some, they will come back resistant, and determined to win the war.  Many times they will do FAR more damage on their second wave because the gardener has become lackadaisical and has forgotten to check his plants for some time.

Also use a leaf shine product as a deterent as opposed to a mite killer.  In many parts of the world Spider mites have become so accoustomed to miticides that they seem to eat neem oil if sprayed directly on them.

 

Spider Mite Facts

  • Spider mites are very small, about 1/32″ or 1mm across
  • Mites Diets’ varies on species but, consists of many hundreds of different types of plants
  • Live primarily on the bottoms of leaves
  • Develop tolerances quickly due to high birth rate
  • Spider mite eggs will develop even if not fertilized, resulting  in  male  mites                ( Arrhenotochous ) .
  • Many spin webs in order to protect their homes from predators
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