Spider mites are the bane of any home gardener’s plant collection. Spider mite infestations can often make succulents unhealthy (or even kill them within days), and if you leave an infestation unchecked, it can quickly spread from one plant to another.
Fortunately, with a little preventative care and a bit of ingenuity, preventing and treating spider mite infestations is easy to do. This guide will teach you all the best methods for identifying and removing spider mites on succulents.
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What Is a Spider Mite?
Spider mites are parasitic mites that feed off of the fluids inside your succulent plants. Spider mites mature, lay eggs, and hatch in a matter of days. While this article is about spider mites on succulents, they’re not too picky – before you know it, the mites will spread to other plants in your home, also.
Spider mites are so named because they spin very recognizable “webs” on your plants. These are very easy to spot on succulents and cacti. It’s incredibly important to keep an eye out for these webs and other spider mite infestations, and even treat them preemptively.
Signs and Symptoms of Spider Mites
If you see a white web on succulent plants, then you most likely have spider mites. However, you can have spider mites that don’t spin webs on your plants, too.
Unfortunately, spider mites are very difficult to see with the naked eye if they have not already spun webs.
Fortunately, spider mites leave other tell-tale signs of their presence on your plants, too. The most notable are small white, yellow, or brown spots of damage that spider mites make on your succulents.
Unfortunately, if you see these spots, it means you already have spider mites on succulents, so you need to get started on treatment right away!
If your spider mite infestation becomes bad enough, your succulent could turn wholly yellow or even die!
Species of Spider Mites That Affect Succulents
Several species of spider mites can affect plants, but the spider mite that you’re most likely to see on your succulents is called the two-spotted spider mite (or red spider mite). While other species of spider mites exist throughout the world, most of them target specific plants. The two-spotted spider mite is relatively indiscriminate in comparison.
The two-spotted spider mite can come in many different colors, including red, green, yellow, brown, and a distinct two-spotted pattern.
How Do You Get Rid of Spider Mites on Succulents?
Getting rid of spider mites on succulents is a bit tricky. This is because one of the best ways to rid large plants of spider mites is to spray them off with a powerful hose. However, a strong jet of water can be too much for small, delicate succulents.
However, there are several other ways to get spider mites off of your succulents. One of the easiest (if not strangest) ways to do this is to release the spider mites’ natural predators into your garden.
These predators will quickly and naturally take care of the spider mite population problem, but you may have to risk releasing new bugs inside your indoor garden!
Finally, if all else fails, you can use a chemical or oil spray to kill your plants’ spider mites directly.
Best Spray for Spider Mites
Spider mites can be difficult to get rid of with pesticide sprays because of their very short life cycle. Because the spider mites that survive the pesticide treatment will reproduce and rebuild the colony, a small group of spider mites can quickly become resistant to all sorts of different chemicals.
As such, natural spray remedies are best for spider mites on succulents. Not only is this healthier for your plant in the long run, but you won’t have to risk your spider mites becoming resistant, either. However, if you must use a chemical miticide, choose a new formulation or one you haven’t used on your plants before.
Natural Ways to Get Rid of Spider Mites
The best way to get rid of spider mites naturally is to use insecticidal oil. Many essential oils have insect-killing or insect-repelling properties, for example, and are much safer to use on your plants (and around your house, too).
If you have a larger, stronger succulent that can handle a strong spray with the hose, this is another way to remove a spider mite infestation. However, do note that a good spray-down isn’t guaranteed to dislodge every spider mite, though it is the most natural and environmentally-friendly solution.
Can You Use Neem Oil on Succulents?
Yes! Neem oil works exceptionally well on succulents, as it’s another insecticidal oil that’ll help you take care of spider mite infestations quite handily. Simply spray it on your succulents, and the oil will kill the spider mites on contact.
How to Prevent Spider Mites From Getting to Your Succulents in the First Place
Treating a spider mite infestation is all well and good, but what about keeping an infestation from happening in the first place? If you can repel the spider mites from the beginning, you won’t have to worry about your plants’ resulting damage. The question then is: what don’t spider mites like?
You can repel spider mites naturally merely by keeping your succulent near a plant that spider mites dislike.
Succulent Companion Plants
Spider Mite Predators
While some might take offense to the idea of releasing more bugs in their garden (especially if it’s indoors), spider mite predators can be the easiest and most efficient way of getting rid of these pests. Some natural predators of spider mites include:
- Spider mite destroyers (Stethorus punctillum, a small species of ladybug)
- Predatory mites (or mites that eat other mites)
- Big-eyed bugs
- Predatory thrips
All in all, while dealing with spider mites isn’t incredibly difficult, it can spell disaster for your garden if you aren’t careful to catch it early. As such, proper prevention of spider mites on succulents is always a good idea. Inspecting your plants for spider mite infestations regularly is another great way to keep these garden-destroying pests away from your precious plants.
Related: Growing Succulents Hydroponically