ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Two-Spotted Spider Mite, Gardener’s Worse Pest

Updated on November 14, 2016
vwriter profile image

Avid, self-taught gardener (I learn as problems arise), bird watcher, and nature lover.

Spider Mite
Spider Mite | Source

The two-spotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae), though small, these creatures can lay havoc on any field, garden or greenhouse. Why? If conditions are right for the mite either inside or out, they can reproduce very quickly and cause a lot of damage. I will go into its description, the plant symptoms of spider mite infestation, along with methods to control the mite.

Before I begin, I would like to share a true story that illustrates the fear that a two-spotted spider mite can have on someone in a greenhouse setting.

A man, seeing the culprit that was killing his plants, scraped the small moving specks into the bag and sealed it. He got into his car and headed for the nearest nursery/ garden center. One of the individual’s who cared for the plants, looked at the bag of bugs. "These are two-spotted spider mites; get them out of our nursery." The man was stunned by the command, but took his bugs in hand and left. He had a name, and he knew he had something that the nursery did not like, he just had to figure out how to fix it. You will learn, as he did, why the two-spotted spider mite is not a pest that any gardener or farmer would want.


Life Cycle of the Two-spotted Spider Mite

To describe the two-spotted spider mite, it is best to see the whole life cycle and the metamorphosis of the mite. Let us begin with the female, which is the only mite to survive and go dormant in the winter. When spring arrives, the female mites will become active.


Life Cycle of the Spider Mite

1. Egg - the eggs are spherical and translucent with a diameter of about 0.1 mm. They are usually laid under the underside of leaves among extensive webbing created by the adult female. As the egg ages, it will turn a pale yellow or green color and the red eyespots of the young larva will become visible before hatching.

2. Nymphs - This is the young stage. The color at this stage depends upon their host plant. Normally it is pale yellow, pale green or straw colored with two green spots.

In the first nymphal stage (larva), it is six-legged. The later stages, which include the protonymph and deutonymph stages, it will become eight-legged.

3. Adult - at full maturity, the adult will be less than 1/60-inch-long, with eight-legs, and a color than can range from yellow, tan, or green. As they mature, they will grow two dark spots on each side of their shoulders.

As winter approaches, and temperatures gets cooler, reproduction will cease and all stages will die, except for the adult female. During winter, the adult female will become dormant, stop feeding, and begin to cluster with other females in straw mulch, dead leaves, crevices in soil, loose bark, or in plant debris. There they will remain until spring.


Do You Have Two-spotted Spider Mite Damage

The spider mite will begin feeding on the bottom of the plant, then slowly move to the top. They will cease their feeding only when the plant is dying or dead. Thus, it is important to be on the lookout for the signs early. Here are some of the indicators of spider mite damage:

1. Leaves dropping from plants prematurely

2. Small white pin spots on underside of leaves. These are eggs.

3. Small yellow or brown spots on the leaves. The mite is beginning to suck the cells of the plant leave.

4. Mites leave behind white webbing. You also might see webbing but no mites. Nevertheless, if there is anything left to be eaten of the plant, they will be back. The fine webbing is used to protect eggs and adults from natural predators and from the weather.

5. Leaf discoloration. As the colonies grow and feeding increases, leaves will turn gray-green, to yellow, to brown, then the leaves will drop off.

6. Make note of weather conditions. If it is dry and hot, spider mites will strive.

Note: The symptom of spider mite infestation looks similar to that of drought symptoms. Thus, it is wise not to assume, but instead, take the time to take a closer look at your plants. If you leave your plants at the mercy of the spider mite, the mite will win.

It you still not sure that you have a spider mite problem, you can take a closer look at your plants by shaking some of the leaves of the plant onto a white piece of paper. If you see black spots that like dirt, and these specks are moving, you may very well have a spider mite.

How Do Spider Mites Damage Plants?

They are capable of attacking the plant in several ways:

1. The mite will pierce the stems and leaves of plants, sucking the cell contents from them.

2. It will bite around the leaves leaving jagged edges.

If the infestation is not put into check, the mites can kill the plant.


How to Control Spider Mites

A spider mite can feed on almost any of the plants that you have in your garden. However, there are natural insecticides, simple methods and chemical pesticides that can help control the mite.


Natural Insecticides

1. Summer horticultural oil spray

2. Phyrethrum – Environmentally safe derived from 100% African Chrysanthemum flowers.

4. Soap Shield

5. Neem Oil - Many have found success using neem oil in the garden and on the indoor plants. However, remember this is not a quick fix. It will take about two weeks to see a change. When you spray the oil, it will kill the eggs and adults that you spray. In addition, once dry, and consumed by the mite, it can cause hormonal changes.


Simple Methods for Small Mite Infestations

There are some simple methods of controlling spider mites. Some of these solutions are more geared to small infestations or indoor use. Please note, because of the nature of these methods there is no guarantee of success.

1. Sprinkling water and soap solution onto the colony. This will suffocate the adult mites and may wash off the eggs.

Here are several additional versions of the soap and water solutions you can try:

a) Use one teaspoon of liquid dish-washing detergent with 1 cup of vegetable oil. Shake well, then add 1 quart of water. Use in 10-day intervals. Be sure to test on a single plant because the oil in the mixture can cause plant burn.

b) Use ½ cup baking soda, 1 cup vinegar, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, 2 drops of dish soap, mix with water to make 40 fluid ounces.

2. Sprinkle the colony with flour, buttermilk and water solutions.

3. Spray plants with a 1:1 mixture of water and alcohol. Some even suggest 1:3 mixture of water to alcohol. You will need to cover the entire plant, focusing more heavily on the bottom of the leaves.

4. Put in peat moss to fill in gaps between plants this will help retain humidity and moisture, both conditions of which spider mites cannot easily survive in.


Use Natural Predators of Spider Mite

Biological control of the mite can be achieved by using their natural predators:

1. Ladybugs

2. Lacewings

3. Feltiella acarisuga (feeds on spider mites)

4. Predatory mites such as Phytoseiulus longpipes, Phytoseiulus persimilis, and Metaseiulus occidentalis. If you are thinking about using a predatory species to kill your 2-spotted mites, it is best to enlist the help of your suppler in determining which predator will best help your specific condition.


Chemical Pesticides

The use of pesticides should be last on your list of controlling the spider mite. Why? When the spider mite sucks the sap out of your plant, it is highly likely they will pass the pesticides into your plants as well.

In addition, pesticides can kill off helpful insects, and thus, lead to other problems.

As you can expect, prevention is the first line of defense against spider mites. The second line of defense is control. Why? Pesticides will control them only until they become immune to its affects. In the process, you may have inadvertently killed some of its natural predators. Bottom line, these monstrous little beasts can kill everything in your garden, if left unchecked.

Reference

Two-Spotted Spider Mite - http://www.benemite.com/twospot.htm

Two-Spotted Cycle - http://mint.ippc.orst.edu/twospotcycle.htm

Comments

Submit a Comment

No comments yet.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)