There are several mites that plague plants but the most common plant mites are the spider mites. This type of mite belongs to the Tetranychidae mite family which has roughly more than one thousand and five hundred different species.
How Big are Mites on Plants?
Spider mites are about 1/20 and 1/60 inches in length, have eight legs and come in a variety of colors: red, brown, green or beige/cream. They dwell on the bottom parts of the leaves.
Young spider mites are typically similar in appearance with a mature spider mite but they only have 6 legs instead of 8. These mites can increase their number quite rapidly particularly in arid and dry weather.
These spider mites feed on the leaves by sucking out the cells of the plants. You will first notice that your leaves have sporadic dots which may appear very light. As the infestation worsens, this is the time when the leaves start to change their color from a healthy green to a dull, sickly yellow.
When complete infestation of the leaves takes over, the leaves will fall off.
How to Detect Spider Mites on Plants
Since these mites are not very visible, it may be hard to determine if there is mite infestation on your plants, although as mentioned; the bruising of the leaves can be an indication of mite infestation.
But to be sure, there is another way for you to find out if your plants have already been invaded by spider mites. Take a piece of white paper and hold it under the plant you think is infested with spider mites.
Shake the branch or the plant, not too roughly since the mites might fall on you, but just hard enough to make them fall of the branch or stem. If there are mites, some of them will fall off on the paper and you will see small creatures crawling on your white paper.
Getting Rid of Spider Mites
There are several ways to get rid of spider mites. First, there are your biological eliminators. These are ladybugs or lacewing larvae and they feed on these mites. However, since they cannot be counted on to always be present, you can use other measures to get rid of these mites.
One good way to keep these mites off is to keep your plants healthy. Spider mites thrive on unhealthy plants so keeping your plants watered and well-fertilized can ward off the mites.
Other measures are using chemicals like sprays that can kill the mites.