Spider mites area a common plant pest and although related to insects, are actually members of the arachnid class along with spiders and ticks. To the naked eye, spider mites look like tiny moving dots usually found on the underside of leaves of many plants. Hot and dry conditions are optimal for their reproduction, and plants stressed from lack of water are especially susceptible to attack. As the spider mite population increases and the foliage quality on heavily infested plants declines, female mites can migrate to neighbouring areas using wind currents.
Spider mites cause damage to plants by sucking the fluids from leaves and young stems. At first, the damage shows up as speckling on leaves. If the infestation is severe, the leaves will turn light yellow and eventually drop off. Continued infection will greatly reduce the aesthetic value of the affected plants, and if left unchecked year after year, the plants will eventually die.
The most effective way to control spider mites is with an application of insecticidal soaps or mineral oils to the plant’s foliage during the early and late summer months. Several treatments are needed to reduce their numbers to an acceptable injury level threshold.