What are they?
Spider mites are tiny arachnids which look pale yellow or green (although colours can change between different varieties of mites). They can be tiny - sometimes requiring a magnifying glass to be visible. You can generally find them on the underside of leaves. These pesky creatures generally live in hot and dry environments, and thrive off plants with high levels of nitrogen, phosphorous and carbohydrates.
You can generally identify that your plant has these mites as the leaves will have tiny spots of discoloration - this is the result of the mite sucking the plant juices out from underneath the leaf.
How can I prevent them?
It can be quite tough to prevent spider mites as they are tiny and easy to spread. It's quite common to carry them inside on your shoes from the garden, hwoever the most common source of spider mites is live plants - which is why some people "quarantine" their new plants before bringing them inside.
How do I get rid of them once they're there?
To fix your spider mite problem, you need to understand how they work, here are some pointers:
- Spider mites hatch in 3 days and are sexually mature in 5 days.
- They lay 20 eggs per day!
With this in mind, the best way to target pest control would be to do two plant washdowns - 4-5 days apart. The first wash-down will kill the spider mites, and the second should get rid of any left over eggs that the first round didn't pick up. Some plants you may be able to drown in water entirely for a few minutes, others should be washed down gently with a hose or spray.