Little Red Spider Problems? Identifying & Clover Mites Control Tips

Little Red Spiders in My Garden
Little Red Spiders in My Garden

First of all, what are those little red spiders and why are they in my garden? Why do they want to be in my garden?

Little red spiders are tiny red mites that favor azaleas and camellias, but they aren’t fussy, they like any plant you may have. If you have a large variety of plants, they are going to love your garden unless you take preventative measures to keep them away.

There are two kinds of red spider mites:

  • European spider mite – These are usually only seen on apple trees. The females are a brick red with light colored legs, and the males can be either yellow or tan.
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    Southern spider mite – These are the most common mites.  They attack a larger variety of plants than the European spider mite.  This mite is a reddish brown with translucency in their legs and also toward the front of its’ body.

Spider mites belong to the Acari (mite) family Tetranychidae. They are less than 1 mm in size and vary in their color. Both varieties will cling to the underside of the leaf and suck the nutrients out of it. If you notice your plant looking dusty or it is beginning to wilt, chances are mites are feeding off it. If you look closely at the dusty looking substance on the underneath of leaves, you will see the movements of the mites.

Little Red Spiders in My Garden

Spider Mite

Once your plant is infested with them, you will need to eradicate them, or they will continue to feed off your plants and eventually kill them.

Mites are more active in cool weather so you will be more likely to see them in the Spring or Fall seasons. They also prefer hot, dry conditions and they are attracted to plants that are beginning to get dehydrated.

Spider mites aren’t harmful to humans, but some people may develop an allergic reaction to them from their bite. If you brush against a plant that they have congregated on, they may bite you, but it doesn’t hurt. The bites will look like small pimples and most likely surrounded by a red circle, or it may look like a rash.

They only eat plants, so they can cause major damage and devastation to a garden if they aren’t caught in time. They will also reproduce on the plants they feed on and they multiply quickly.

You must be diligent in finding them and eradicating them so your plants will stay healthy and happy. The best defense against them is to prevent them from clinging to your plants, to begin with.

When you bring new plants home to integrate into your garden, you may be bringing the spider mites in with the new plants. Thoroughly wash any new plants before you plant them. This will aid in keeping your garden healthy and insect free.

Here is a list of options to rid yourself of spider mites:

  • The best way to control these mites is to use their natural predators. Lacewings and ladybugs are sometimes used, but you can also use predatory mites. Predatory mites are produced commercially so you may be able to purchase some at a garden center or find a reputable retailer online. Predatory mites will not eat other insects or injure your plants. They will eat the adult mites, their eggs, and any other developmental stage between.

    If you decide to purchase predatory mites, the instructions should be included with them. Below are steps that some people have taken with them:
  • You can first spray the plants thoroughly, so the mites have something to cling to.
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    To release the mites, gently mix the contents of the container they came in. Some companies use corn grit or vermiculite to mix in with the mites to give them substance or bulk.
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    After gentle mixing shake them out close to where the mite infestation is. Shake out approximately 20 or 30 predator mites per medium sized plant.
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    You should start to see results in about two to three weeks.
  • Another method to rid your plants of the mites is to use Diatomaceous Earth diluted with water. Mix in a spray bottle and spray anywhere you think they are clinging to your plants. Spray the top and also the bottom side of the leaves.
Little Red Spiders in My Garden

Diatomaceous Earth

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    You can also combine two tablespoons of any gentle dish soap, one or two tablespoons of cooking oil, and a gallon of water. If you prefer, you can omit the oil. Mix well and pour a portion of it into a spray bottle. Spray the top and underside of the leaves thoroughly.
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    The easiest way to rid your garden of these pests is to thoroughly rinse all your plants.
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    Another method is to plant their two favorite plants, the azalea and camellia, so they will hopefully be attracted to them rather than your other plants.
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    Keep debris and decomposing leaves away from your plants. This applies to other insects also.

Below are some of the signs of infestation that you can look for:

  • If you see your plant leaves getting yellow or tan, you may have a spider mite problem.
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    White spots on the leaves is another indication of a problem.
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    White cottony webbing on the underside of leaves that resembles a spider web is also a clue.
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    Leaves also may be curling up after changing color and falling off.

Spider mites are tiny, so you may want to invest in a magnifying glass, so you can see them better. Many sites on the internet show what a red spider mite looks like.

Some strawberry farms will use the predatory mites to control any mite problem they may have, but they use larger scale procedures due to the size of their farms.

You can also use chemical, but the mite will eventually build up resistance to any chemicals.

Mites like any environment that is rich with plants. This would include greenhouses, landscaping projects, nurseries, golf courses, and parks.

In conclusion, as long as you’re diligent in spotting these little insects, your plants will thrive and stay healthy, and the little red spider mites will cease to be harmful to your garden.

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