For any homeowner who cultivates plants within their house, the thought of having a spider mite infestation is dreadful. These little pests get into your plants and wreak havoc.
Thankfully, spider mites cannot survive as long as there are no fresh plants in the area. Spider mites will perish after eleven days without a host plant, but the best way to prevent them is to keep your plants healthy and clean.
There are many interesting things surrounding spider mites. They have peculiar ways of survival that make them difficult to remove, but there are also methods of preventing their infestation. Read on if you’d like to learn more about these pesky pests.
So, can spider mites live without plants? Adult spider mites might not live very long if there isn’t a readily available food source. However, spider mite eggs can survive in very harsh conditions for extended periods of time. This means that even if you eliminate the adults, the eggs can easily reintroduce a spider mite population as soon as a source of plant matter is available.
What are Spider Mites?
As their name implies, these little mites are of the same species as spider. Being arachnids, they are related to ticks and scorpions, among many other types of insects, and these annoying little bugs share very much in common with their spider relatives.
They get the name spider mite because of the way that they spin silk webs on the plants that they infest, giving the plant a fuzzy appearance that no plant owner wants to see.
Spider mites have five stages of growth in which they transform from a small egg into an adult mite. For females of the species, they will survive up to 30 days, producing an average of one hundred eggs in that span of time.
The mites themselves are so small that it is virtually impossible to spot them with your naked eye. It is more common to learn of their existence due to the webs that they leave behind on plants.
Can They Survive Without Plants?
The good news is that spider mites are not capable of surviving without a host plant to thrive off of. These pests require a very unique environment in order to thrive.
These conditions include the air around the plant being dry and hot, but they can also thrive in environments that have high humidity. The fertility of spider mite eggs is the highest in very hot and dry conditions that have quite a bit of dust.
Although spider mites will most certainly perish if there are no plants available, this is not something that is too reassuring. People, pets, and other things can transport mites around your house.
This means that even if there are no plants currently alive in one room of your house, the chance of the mites spreading to other plants in and around your house is quite high.
Keep in mind that the eggs of spider mites also contain a protein layer that keeps them protected and alive throughout harsh conditions. That means that these microscopic eggs can survive in the weirdest of places even when you think it is safe.
Also, the mites are known to lie dormant for long periods of time, even surviving the show that falls during the winter at times.
Mature spider mites are known to survive without food for a maximum of 11 days and a minimum of 3, depending on the gender of the mite. Females survive longer without food, while the males will perish sooner.
How Can I Get Rid of Spider Mites?
Preventing a spider mite infestation is much easier than attempting to get rid of them after they infest your plants. This is why making sure to maintain your plants and keep them as healthy as possible is of utmost importance.
In order to perform this preventative maintenance, simply check your plants thoroughly for any signs of spider mites every other week or so. This is to be done for plants that are outside or in the garden.
For houseplants you will want to check them much more frequently, seeing as temperatures within the house are more stable and they will collect dust much faster than those outside.
Check these indoor plants every week and clean off the leaves either with a soft cloth or by dusting. Pay careful attention to fruit-bearing plants and vegetables as spider mites tend to prefer these over other plants.
Should your plant become infested with spider mites, take very special care to NOT use any chemical pesticides to remove them. This kills the bugs that prey on spider mites and actually will encourage the spread of the pest!
Some steps that you may take to curb the infestation is pruning the leaves and other parts of the plant that are infested with spider mites, while also tossing away any webbing left by the arachnids.
Purchase an organic pesticide to remove the pests and then dust off the entire plant of mites. It may be difficult to remove an infestation once it begins, but taking these steps will help.
Preventing the infestation is the best option that you have, so make sure to water your plants properly and keep the area around them clean and free from any dust which could encourage spider mites to move into the plant.
While spider mites cannot survive without a plant, it is very difficult to get rid of them once they have infested the area. Your best bet of avoiding the pests is to keep your plants clean and properly water them.