If you look closely at outdoor plants – and sometimes even indoor plants – you can occasionally spot a tiny red arthropod moving fairly quickly on a leaf or stem. It’s red or orange and has eight legs, so it must be a red spider mite, right? Though not! Here is more information about red mites in the garden! Scroll down!
Red mites in the garden? What you should do?
Are red mites harmful to your garden plants?
It is not a red spider mite (Tetranychus urticae), but a predatory mite. There are all sorts of species of these mites in several genera (Amblyseius, Balaustrium, Phytoseiulus, etc.). Many of these are colored red (but green, orange and yellow are also possible). These are actually useful insects as they feed mainly on pest mites, but also on small insect pests such as fungus gnats and thrips. Therefore you should not kill these small red mites, but encourage them.
Spider mites, which are actually harmful, are rarely red
Red mites in the garden are rarely red
The red spider mite looks like moving dust and is rarely red!
The real pest mite to worry about is the red spider mite, also aptly called the two-spotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae).
Web created by spider mites
It is much smaller than a predatory mite (without a magnifying glass you only see moving “dust particles”) and is indeed rarely red. It only turns red in autumn, and then only outdoors. Most of the time it is greenish with two darker spots. This never lives alone, but always in colonies. When numerous, it spins cobwebs connecting stems and leaves. The cobwebs serve as a highway for her to get from one part of the plant to another and as protection from rain and pesticides. This ability to build a spider-like web has earned it the nickname “spider mite,” even though it’s not a spider at all.
Examine spider mites
Spider mites have a long list of hosts and affect thousands of plants including beans, strawberries, eggplants, melons, roses, arborvitae and tree tops outdoors and indoor palms, hibiscus, ivy, brugmansia and scheffleras.
Beneficial red mites do not form colonies and feed on harmful garden insects
Red mites in the garden that are useful and those that cause harm
So to recap, the good mites (the predatory mites) are red, about half the size of a pinhead, move fairly quickly, and live alone. Their presence usually indicates a healthy environment. You should not spray them or even bother them. They are indeed useful friends in the garden.
A vigorous shower will remove harmful spider mites from your garden
The harmful mites are dust-sized, live in colonies, spin webs, and are rarely red. They yellow the leaves and kill the plants when they reproduce. You do not want these mites on your plants. With a powerful jet of water, their webs can often be blown to pieces and their population reduced to a harmless level. You can also add some insecticidal soap to the spray to kill them entirely. Indoors, putting the plant in the shower and rinsing it off works wonders.
Spider mite or a harmless red mite?
Spider mites thrive in hot, dry conditions. So, occasionally rinsing your plants’ foliage, keeping temperatures cool, and increasing humidity can all help deter mites indoors. Outdoors, you’ll find that spider mites rarely cause problems during cool and rainy summers, but when it’s hot and especially dry, spider mites really get going. In dry summers, occasionally hosing down the plants may be enough to combat spider mites.
Now examine your garden plants for “uninvited guests”
Learn how to combat harmful spider mites