To my surprise, I found Spider Mites on my Philodendron Birkin during a routine check for dryness on my houseplants. OMG! What am I supposed to do for treating spider mites quickly. I know they multiply so fast and can get on all my plants.
First Step in Treating Spider Mites
In my opinion, the first thing you need to do is to isolate this plant from all the other plants in your home. Spider mites are known to spread quickly, so get this plant away from all the others. During treatment, if it has to sit in your laundry room with no windows, that’s better than ending up treating all your plants!
This Philodendron Birkin still seems very healthy so I can only assume she is early in her infestation. There are some tell-tale spots on her leaves like small tan or brown speckles so that could be a warning for you too.
How To Recognize A Spider Mite Invasion
Here is a photo of a leaf with those speckles that could have been created by the Spider Mites sucking the life out of the leaf. Hopefully I can save it.
You may also notice that your plant has “spider webs” in the area where the leaf attaches to the stem or even along the underside of the leaf. These webs are created to shield the spider mites from predators or visualization…sort of a protective tent, in a way.
When I first noticed mine, I thought “Cobwebs? On my plant?” Then I thought of the webbing of Spider Mites and here I go running with the pot into a room that has no plants. Remember, isolation is your first treatment!
Also the Spider Mites may be in large enough numbers that you can see the actual dust-like groups of them on your plant. It may look like dust particles or tiny tan/white/black/red specks as if the plant were dusted with pollen.
But be aware, you have now met the Enemy! I have found these outdoors on my hypertufa, especially the red ones. These spider mites love dry conditions, so a dry hypertufa planter can be a site of a large infestation.
If you should ever notice that a plant is not doing well in your hypertufa container, be sure to check for spider mites. These are so hard to see but if you focus on a dry edge, you may eventually notice tiny specks of red crawling around…lots of them. Gives me the shivers just thinking about it.
And if you smoosh them with your fingers, it makes a red smear…Ewwww!
After Isolation, What Are the Next Steps to Eliminating Spider Mites?
The first thing I did for treating spider mites is to use a spray of water to knock off as much of the spider mites, webbing, and eggs as you can. Best done in the shower or with a sprayer attachment, I didn’t have that available. Kitchen being remodeled and I have no kitchen sink…really no kitchen at all, for that matter.
So I used the utility sink in the laundry room which just has a regular spout. But I was able to wash (somewhat) the leaves both tops and bottoms, rubbing them with my fingers to detach anything that I felt would come off.
Killing All The Spider Mites with Insecticidal Soap
Once you have washed away the spider mites from the surface, you will need to treat your plant with an insecticidal soap solution too. This can be purchased or you can mix up your own if you like.
The one I chose to use is Garden Safe Insecticidal Soap and I am providing an affiliate link here for that product. But you can make your own if you like. Here is a recipe for mixing up your own supply.
- Clean spray bottle
- 1 tbsp Murphy’s Oil Soap
- 1 Quart soft water
- Shake well before and during each use
These insecticidal soaps have potassium salts of fatty acids or the list of ingredients will show potassium laurate.
Insecticidal soaps work by direct contact with the spider mites or other insects. The insects cell membranes are disrupted and they end up dehydrated and die. That rids you of the spider mites that the dilution contacts.
Once the solution has dried, it has NO effect on the insects. You may need to re-treat again on the following day and subsequent days til your infestation is gone.
But what about the eggs? Any eggs present are not necessarily affected by the soap dilution, so we need to find an additional way to get to those eggs too.
Horticultural Oils – Taking Care of The Eggs
The final step in killing spider mites is your horticultural oil. I am using Safer Neem Oil Solution RTU (stands for Ready To Use – doesn’t have to be mixed) #affiliate link , since I don’t want to mix a solution myself. This is the brand I have found this year and I like it.
These oils attack both adult, nymph, larvae, eggs of the pest so it just follows that if you try and kill spider mites on your plants, you need to be sure to take care of the eggs too. If not, they will just hatch and re-infest your plant after all the work you have gone through.
Remember: The egg-to-adult stage can occur in as little as 5 days, so repeated applications are necessary to be sure that all the spider mites are gone. Be extra watchful for more appearing on the same plant or on plants that were near the infected plant.
Spider mites don’t fly, but they can be blown around on air currents such as your furnace or air conditioner kicking on. They are little Air Surfers! So always be on the lookout!
I hope this helps you get rid of any infestation of spider mites you might have or help you discover ones sneaking in on new plants, garden plants being brought inside, or any other way these critters get into our indoor garden area.
Keep that insecticidal soap and Neem oil handy! (This Neem Oil mix also makes your leaves shine.) My Philodendron Birkin recovered so well and looks awesome now. She is even putting out new growth!
I won against the Spider Mites!