Spider mites are very common plant pests which can cause damage to plants such as discoloration or flecking and scorching of the plants. Such damages as these can lead to leaf loss or plant death. They are closely related to clover mites and are of the arachnid family. They’re miniscule creatures that is hardly visible without the aid of a lens. However, in the mass, they can be detrimental to plants.
Description & Life Cycle
Spider mites are a type of arachnid, which will also include spiders, ticks, and scorpions. They are miniscule and often difficult to see. They are less than 1mm in size and they will vary in color depending on the species. Their colors range from browns and reds to yellows and greens. The seasonal changes may also affect their appearance. Spider mites lay tiny, spherical eggs. They are initially transparent in color. One characteristic that will differentiate spider mites from other species of mites is their ability to spin silk. Once they lay their eggs, spider mites will spin silk webbing to protect themselves and their colony from potential predators. Under the best conditions, eggs can hatch in as little as three days and become mature within five days. One female will live up to 2-4 weeks and will lay up to 20 eggs a day. If a female spider mite was left alone, she can spawn a population of almost a million mites in just one month or even less time than that.
Behavior, Habits, and Damage
Mites reproduce at such an alarming rate that they are known to be fairly resistant to some pesticides. They also have tactics to survive whole winters, hiding under bark cracks or under debris in and around the garden. Other mites may even survive cool seasons when they remain dormant in the egg stage. You may also notice that as temperatures cool and the winter season approaches, they may begin to change colors and turn into a reddish orange color.
Spider mites prefer warm temperatures and will thrive in dry conditions. However, the most activity will be seen during the changing seasons, spring and fall. During the warmer months of the year, spider mites develop quickly and lead to extreme increase in rates of development and population growth.
Spider mites are common pests in many yards and gardens. The webbing that the spider mites produce can collect dust and give a dirty appearance to the plant. Spider mites ingest the sap that is in plants and from this feeding process, plants are often damaged. The leaves will begin to appear flecked or spotted. Discoloration is common in plants that are infested with spider mites. They may begin to fade and begin to look yellow or bronze on the foliage. Severe damage can result in a stunting of growth or can even result in the plant being killed.
Spider mites become a nuisance not only from damaging plants in your yard, but they will begin to venture indoors. They may wander inside when infestations are heavy and are frequently found on table tops, windowsills, and other furniture. They find appliances and computer equipments desirable because of the temperature and may invade these areas.