IDENTIFICATION — You’ll probably notice the symptoms long before you see the actual pest. These little creatures are so tiny that they look like moving pencil dots. Two-spotted spider mites, the most common type, are found in most of the United States and into southern Canada. These equal opportunity pests feed on almost any plant and prefer hot, dry conditions, although some spider mite species prefer certain types of plants and like cool, damp weather.
DAMAGE — Spider mites feed on plants by piercing the leaves and sucking out fluids, eventually causing the entire plant to turn pale or bronze-colored. A bad infestation of spider mites can leave plants stressed and open to disease and other insects and may even kill young plants. You may notice webbing, usually on the undersides of the leaves. (Click on the photo to see webbing and individual mites between the lobes of the leaf.)
CONTROL — One easy way to get rid of spider mites is to knock them from the plants with a blast of water. Insecticidal soaps work well on these pests, too. Be sure to spray both the tops and bottoms of leaves until the plant drips.