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Common Succulent Pests and Treatment Part 2

Red Spider Mites

What are Spider Mites?

Red Spider Mite is a species also known as two-spotted spider mites. The size is around a millimeter in length. This pest is a quite common sap-feeding insect that you can find on various plants both indoor and outdoor. They are very small and nearly invisible to the naked eye. Sometimes it is easier to see the fine webbing spider mites leave on plant leaves and stems. They usually congregate on the undersides of the leaves, and if the infestation is severe, the webbing will be seen first. It can coat the foliage, collect dust and make the whole plant look dirty.

Spider mites webbing

Spider mites are also found in colonies with large groups of dozens or hundreds of individuals. Spider mites feed by puncturing the top layer of a plant’s skin and sucking out the juices. While an individual mite cannot really damage a plant, the combined effect of a whole colony can wither a plant in days.

Spider mites damage to plants

How do I know my plant has Spider Mites?

Spider Mites multiply rapidly in hot and dry climates, usually they are situated on the bottom of the leaves, the damage is often visible on the tops of leaves as well. Make sure to inspect your succulents at least once a week as succulents have chubbier and thicker leaves, hence the damage may not be so visible from the top. Spider Mites damage generally appears as small dots or patches of yellow/white/brown leaf discoloration. A serious infestation will eventually cause a whole leaf to yellow and drop off, though its neighbouring leaves may still be healthy. The best and easiest method of identifying spider mites is to simply keep an eye out for their distinctive webs.

Leaf discolouration in affected plants

How to prevent a Spider Mites infection?

Spider mites are drawn by dust on the leaves and stems. Wipe down your plants from time to time as you water them. Remove the dust manually. Water stress and root rot can also make succulents more susceptible to mites. It is important to have a proper watering schedule to avoid overwatering. Check out our blog post about watering succulents properly: Prune any infested parts of the plant immediately.

How do I treat my infested plant?

They are also particularly difficult to treat because, not only are they on the protected underside of leaves, but they are protected by their webbing. Some chemical treatments won’t work unless applied directly to the underside of the leaves. It is best to manually remove the affected leaves and use a high pressure water hose to dislodge and remove the webs so that application of chemicals or pesticides will be more effective.

1. Mix one part rubbing alcohol to one part water then spray the leaves of your succulent with it

2. Dilute neem oil and spray on the undersides of the leaves. Neem oil is quite sticky and will coat the leaves after application. Reapply every 2-3 days until the infestation is gone. Even if your plant is not infested, you can apply neem oil as a preventive measure

Always remember to dilute neem oil concentrated otherwise it could cause leaf burns when exposed to strong sunlight

3. Insecticidal soaps are also a great option for dealing with spider mites. It’s mild enough to use repeatedly without harming the plant and strong enough to kill mites and their eggs. However, insecticidal soaps are not as effective as chemical pesticides, it will take a lot more persistence and a longer treatment to get rid of the spider mites for good.

You can purchase insecticidal soap from garden stores or make your own by adding 3-4 drops of soap (not detergent) into a spray bottle with water

4. Look out for predatory mites that can eat loads of adults spider mites, and eggs, every day, they help keep the pests under control

Predatory larva of the ladybug help to eat pests such as mealybugs, aphids and spider mites, they look similar to mealybugs but are much bigger in size


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