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The Might of Spider Mites on Trees and Shrubs: Damage Symptoms, Control, and More

Posted by Rob Reindl on Aug 24, 2018 8:08:11 AM

spruce spider miteFrom Rocky to The Karate Kid—to almost any other classic sports movie ever made—if we’ve learned anything, it’s that the little guy can win. However, in the case of the tiny-but-powerful spider mite, this is one time we’d like to see the underdog lose.

Unfortunately, that’s often not the case. If you suspect you might have mites on your trees and shrubs—possibly because you’re seeing telltale symptoms or you’ve even scouted them out—then you could be worrying that you’ll lose your plants.

You’re right to be concerned. Mites may be small, but they’re highly destructive. While spider mites are the most “notorious” mite, and the one that we’ll focus on in this article, you should know there are other types of mites found in landscapes as well.

If you’re worried about how to get rid of spider mites, then we’ve got you covered. Understanding more about these mighty little menaces will help you win the battle against them.

The Mighty Spider Mite

Spider mites are not insects but are more closely related to spiders, hence their name. These arachnids (in adult form) have eight legs, an oval body, and no antennae. Spider mites belong to the family “Tetranychidae,” which includes about 1,200 species.

two-spotted spider mite-1

Though small (adults average only 1/50th of an inch), the spider mite’s power lies in its numbers. Spider mites on trees can rapidly multiply. That’s because some female spider mites have an average lifespan of 30 days and can produce 100 eggs on average in their lifetime. Since some young spider mites can complete their development in as little as five days, new generations are quickly reproducing. This means that, if not addressed, you can develop a total infestation.

Plants Commonly Infected by Spider Mites

Picea glaucaThere are quite a few plants in Cincinnati, Dayton, OH, and Northern Kentucky that can be infected by spider mites. Some of the plants that are commonly infected by spider mites include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Burning Bush
  • Spruce
  • Boxwood
  • Arborvitae
  • Juniper
  • Hemlock
  • Pine
  • Douglas-Fir
  • Hemlock

Unfortunately, this only names some of the plants that spider mites can attack. To give you some idea, the spruce mite, despite its selective name, actually feeds on more than 40 different species of conifers—and that’s just one type of spider mite. There are many different species of spider mites found in Northern Kentucky and Ohio.

Spider Mites on Trees: Symptoms to Know

Spider mites use their piercing mouthparts to feed on the chlorophyll in plants, which can lead to tiny white spots or a stippled appearance. Both of these symptoms are indicators that you’re dealing with a spider mite infestation. As these pests continue to feed, the damaged foliage will eventually turn brown and start to drop off the plant. Many spider mites also produce minuscule webbing, which is another telltale sign that you’re dealing with this pest.

mite damage and webs

If you suspect that you have a spider mite infestation, you can attempt to examine the leaves of your plant using a magnifying glass—but even then, they can be challenging to see.

You might also try to hold a sheet of white paper beneath a branch and give it a shake. On a piece of crisp white paper, you may be able to see them scurrying. You could also drag your hand across the paper as squishing them will leave tiny streaks.

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How to Get rid of Mites on Trees and Shrubs

Protecting your plants from these harmful pests means implementing spider mite control. When it comes to success, the approach really matters. For instance, it’s important to rotate your miticides with different modes of action so that the mites do not become resistant to the product being used.

In addition, it’s also important to note that there are both harmful and beneficial mites on your trees and shrubs. The beneficial mites actually eat the harmful ones. However, if a general miticide product is used, it’s going to kill all of them. It’s critical to use a selective product that won’t kill the predatory mites.

predatory mite

At Oasis Turf & Tree, we use separate tanks for our insecticides and our miticides, an extra step that a lot of companies don’t take. A lot of tree care companies will just mix tanks and spray everything. However, there may be other beneficial insects in the landscape that feed upon spider mites. By killing those off, you give spider mites the upper hand.

Another differentiator is that we’ll also make the hard recommendations when they’re necessary. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your landscape is to remove the plant.

A lot of tree services in Cincinnati, Dayton, OH, or Northern Kentucky will not want to tell you that and will just keep on spraying and getting paid for their work. However, we’re actually scouting and determining the best course of action for each plant—even if it's removal. If your plant is too far gone, we’re not going to just keep spraying it and making money off of something which no one can restore.

Protecting the Beloved Plants in your Landscape

tree-care-sprayingUnfortunately, by the time that you notice damage from a spider mite problem, chances are you already have a severe infestation that has been going on for a long period of time. While you may not have realized that your plants were slowly becoming dull, it’s probably been happening, right under your nose, for quite a while. It may take a long period of time to save your plant and restore it to its intended beauty.

That’s why the best thing you can do for your trees and shrubs is to protect them with preventative care. Being part of a tree and shrub care program can help ensure that your trees will better withstand pest problems as well as disease and environmental stressors. Choosing a tree spraying service that will take a customized approach to your landscape will be key in protecting it.

Don’t let the might of the powerful spider mite bring you down—or the power of any other pest or disease, for that matter. By choosing a company that can address your problem and also provide protection going forward, you can take back your landscape and claim victory over these destructive pests.

If you want to learn more about tree and shrub health care for your Cincinnati, Dayton, OH, or Northern Kentucky home, call us today at 513-697-9090 to get your quote, let us help you choose a stand-alone program or bundle it with other services, and then sit back and relax knowing you’re in good hands.

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Image Sources:  spruce spider mite, predatory mite, two-spotted spider mite, mite damage and webs, Picea glauca

Topics: Tree & Shrub Care

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