How to Prevent and Control Spider Mites In Your Lawn

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Red spider mite

Spider mites have many names, including turf mites, grass mites, lawn mites, or yard mites, but can cause severe damage to your turf and landscape. Learn how to identify, prevent, and get rid of these lawn pests.

What Are Spider Mites?

Spider mites is a collective term for a number of different species of garden pests which can damage or even potentially kill the plant life in your yard. They are a very common pest—and while they may not present any threat to you directly, they should still be dealt with in a short time to help prevent extensive damage to your flora. 

What do Spider Mites Look Like?

True to their name, spider mites are in fact members of the arachnid class rather than insects, and thus, as adults, have eight legs. Their bodies are incredibly small, oval-shaped, and vary in color, ranging in color from green and yellow to reddish-brown or even black. Most commonly though, they appear red, leading to the common moniker “the little red bug”.

How to Spot Spider Mites

Spider mite eggs are transparent when first laid, but will darken as the larvae prepare to hatch. Usually, a single individual mite will be very difficult to spot, however, a spider mite swarm should be very noticeable as they will begin to the web over the plant in which they are feeding. Further, the plant may begin to yellow and stop growing, helpfully making it even more noticeable. 

Do Spider Mites Bite?

While spider mites do bite plants when feeding, they do not bite humans. Unlike similar mites, like scabies mites which love to feed on humans, spider mites prefer food of the greener variety. As always, we wouldn’t recommend taking a bath in spider mites but you and your pets will be safe from spider mite bites in ordinary encounters. 

Common Types of Spider Mites

Below are some of the most common kinds of spider mites and some of the slight differences which may help you identify them and coordinate with your pest control expert as to the best method of removal. 

Banks Grass Mites 

As possibly the most common mite you will find, banks grass mites are the stereotypical spider mite. Extremely small, under 0.5mm usually, oval-shaped, and ranging from green to almost black, they are primarily a warm-weather mite, with most activity happening in the height of summer. They are known for their incredibly rapid reproduction under hot, dry conditions, so make sure to keep an eye out if you’re going through a dry spell. 

Clover Mites

Another extremely common mite, Clover mites are slightly larger than their banks grass mite cousins and are the mite most likely to be referred to as the little red bug. Almost always a reddy brown, these turf mites prefer the cooler weather, seeing their activity peak during the early spring, before becoming dormant throughout the summer to re-emerge in the late fall

Unfortunately, due to their predilection for the cooler months, there is a chance that you may end up with a clover mite infestation in the home. If there are any sudden changes in weather, these mites will migrate indoors in search of better weather or more plentiful food sources. Top tip—if they do come into the home, rather than crushing the critters, you should vacuum them up to prevent a sudden red polka dot pattern across your walls and floors. 

Winter Grain Mites

With a similar body color and size, the classic red-brown mite look, the distinguishing characteristic of the winter grain mite is their bright red-orange legs. True to their name, these mites go even further than the clover mites, showing the most activity in the heart of the winter months, with another spike noticed in early spring. Preferring wheat fields to conventional grass gardens, our homeowners may be safe but to all our farmers, make sure you are keeping an eye out. 

How to Tell If You have Spider Mites

As said, spotting one spider mite is a tough task unless you have a microscope in hand and know exactly where you need to be looking. Signs of mite activity are noticeable at every stage of their consumption of your plants, so hopefully, we can help you spot it sooner to prevent too much damage. 

  • First, you may start to notice small, lightly colored dots along with the leaves, the beginning of mites beginning to feed. 
  • As they reproduce and continue to feed, leaves will begin to lose their color, turning yellow or red and falling from the plant. 
  • By this point, the signature spider mite web should be easily visible, so you should have no trouble spotting them. 
  • Don’t think you just have to keep an eye on your outdoor plants though. Whilst lawn mites, as the name suggests, may prefer the outdoors, food is food and your indoor plants could be just as susceptible

How to Prevent Spider Mites in Your Lawn

Now that you know all about the risks, it is time to present some solutions. Prevention, as with all things pest-related, should be prioritized over everything, as there can be no spider mite problem to fix if there are no mites to begin with. 

  • The number one prevention method is water, as spider mites cannot survive in highly moist environments. Particularly through dry spells, make sure that all your plants are well watered. For added effectiveness use cold water, as the lower temperatures make it even harder for mites to thrive. 
  • You can also introduce a predatory species to your yard that will feed on mites if they appear. Ladybugs, Predatory Mites, and even the aptly named Spider Mite Destroyers make it their job to hunt down spider mites and can thereby keep all of your plants protected. 

How to Get Rid of Spider Mites

If the prevention hasn’t worked and you are suffering from an infestation with plants dying left and right, all is not lost. 

  • Again, for large populations of mites, the best solution is water. It will need to be more aggressive this time, so any high-pressure water dispersion system can give your plants a good clear, taking the mites, webs, and eggs all together.
  • Another option is a number of different organic oils such as neem oil, canola oil, or cottonseed oil all prove to be effective mite removal tools and they are very likely to be lying around the house, so make sure to take a look. 
  • There are obviously also chemical solutions to mites, but be very careful when choosing which insecticide to use as many of them contain extremely toxic chemicals. If in doubt be sure to consult with a professional pest control expert. 

Hopefully, this has provided you with an insight into spider mites and given you some ideas on how to protect your plants. If you need any other help, advice, or have pest-related questions, make sure to give us a call, as our team of local experts at American Turf & Tree Care is always here to help.

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