Spider mites are common in houseplants and they attack orchids too. Because they can cause considerable damage to plants, it’s important to identify, isolate and treat a spider mite infestation.
If you suspect your orchid may be overrun by spider mites, read my approach to treating a spider mite infestation in your orchid.
Identify Spider Mites
One of the challenges of identifying a spider mite infestation is that these pests are microscopic in size, leaving you clueless about their existence. Until they start damaging your plant, that is.
These pests usually reside under the leaves of plants and feed on their sap. When they start damaging your plant, you’ll notice a silvery shine, which means that leaves are losing their sap.
Leaves often have tiny yellow spots that will turn brown. Take a white cloth and wipe down the underside of the leaves. You’ll notice reddish or brown streaks on the cloth.
Apart from these, tiny webs on the leaves of your orchids is also a sign of spider mites.
Because damage is already underway when you notice these signs, it’s imperative that you take the right steps in treating a spider mite problem.
First, you need to isolate your orchid from your other house plants to prevent spider mites from spreading. Next, you need to remove spider mites.
Get Rid of Spider Mites on Orchid
Now that you know what’s afflicting your precious orchid, it’s time to eradicate spider mites. Here are a few methods that will work:
- Wiping the underside of the leaves with rubbing alcohol
- Wiping down the leaves with a mixture of water and dish soap (you can also add rubbing alcohol to this mixture as well)
- Spraying your orchids with insecticides such acaricides or miticides is also efficient in eradicating spider mites
Whichever method you decide to use, make sure to reapply at least weekly and apply a heavy coating of whatever mixture you’re using. Reapply until the problem is resolved.
Prevention measures can also be helpful in making sure that a spider mite population is quickly eradicated before they can multiply and spread.
Because these mites thrive in dry environments (you’ll most often notice them during the winter months, when the air in our houses gets drier), raising humidity levels in your home can act as a natural deterrent to spider mites.
Another good way to reduce their population is to regularly wipe down your orchid plants, leaf by leaf. Do this regularly and you should see less and less instances of infestation.
Can Spider Mites Kill an Orchid?
Spider mites are usually an aesthetic concern on decorative plants, but left to their own devices, they can eventually decimate your orchid to the point of it becoming very difficult or impossible to salvage.
In fact, most will recommend you destroy an infested orchid when eradication is proving unsuccessful because of the risk of spider mites transferring to your other houseplants.
Even if your orchid seems to be doing fine while under siege from a spider mite infestation, with time, its defenses will father. The orchid can stop growing, tissue death will set in, and you may have trouble reviving your orchid.
Therefore, it’s important to act fast to prevent further damage once you notice the signs of damage caused by spider mites. The sooner you intervene, the quicker your orchid will be able to recover.
Don’t hesitate to apply a different method from the ones I mentioned if the one you’ve picked doesn’t seem to be working.
Do Spider Mites Infest Other Plants?
Spider mites are a widespread pest that will affect both indoor and outdoor plants. They can infest crops such as sugar peas and beans, roses, and a host of other houseplants as well.
Because they feed on the sap of plants, virtually all plants are at risk of spider mites setting up shop on their leaves, but not all plants are equally affected.
There are some plants that, because of their leaf structure, size and thickness, will put up a better fight against spider mites. You’ll also be able to notice spider mite damage much quicker on these plants.
For example, the jade plant has plump, thick leaves that are difficult to penetrate. Its leaves also offer very few hiding spots to spider mites.
Because of its large leaves, the rubber tree plant, you can easily notice the webbing left on the undersides of leaves and clear and infestation very quickly.
The Snake Plant and ZZ Plant are also much better at resisting spider mites, because of the way their leaves grow exposing their underside so you can quickly notice if something is wrong.
From these it follows that plants with small, thin leaves are more prone to damage caused by spider mite infestation.
How do Spider Mites Get Into Your Home?
When confronted with a spider mite infestation, most of you will wonder where these spider mites came from and how did they even get into your houses.
What may seem like a mystery, actually has a pretty simple explanation that has got to do with the size of these creatures.
Because they’re so minuscule, they can be literally blown in by the wind. Or they can be carried inside by your pets, or you can bring them inside on another plant.
They can lay low and strike when environmental conditions, such as humidity levels dropping, become favorable to them. This is why it’s important to keep humidity levels increased around your orchids to suppress spider mites.
At some point in your orchid’s existence, you may need to treat a spider mite infestation. It’s important to regularly check the underside of leaves and regularly clean those areas to remove any spider mites that may be lurking there.
Couple these measures with preventing the air from getting too dry in your home and you should significantly decrease the chances of spider mites getting ahold of your houseplants.
If it still happens, make sure to use the spider method removal methods I mentioned. Apply a thick coating every 3-7 days, depending on the severity of the infestation, until the infestation is cleared.