Spider mites on tomato plants can be a real nuisance, affecting the look of the leaves and even destroying the fruits. Aside from these, spider mites can also attack a healthy tomato plant until it becomes sick and eventually dies.
Spider mites thrive in hot conditions, so keeping the plants humid, introducing natural bugs, and using suitable essential oils and herbicides will efficiently eliminate them. Read our team’s advice to learn how to keep spider mites away from your precious tomato plants.
- What Are the Causes of Spider Mites on Tomato Plants?
- How To Eliminate Spider Mites on Tomato Plants?
What Are the Causes of Spider Mites on Tomato Plants?
The causes of spider mites on tomato plants include drought, lack of moisture, and overall dry weather. These factors will create the perfect environment for a spider mite infestation. These pests can also attack your tomato plants due to over-fertilizing.
If your plants are overcrowded, they’ll be prone to the spreading of spider mites because these small pests travel fast.
– Dry Conditions
Drought, lack of moisture, poor humidity, and high temperatures are all favorable conditions for the growth and spread of spider mites. These pests thrive in dry conditions, so they’re more likely to attack the neglected plants on the far ends of your garden where there isn’t enough moisture.
Water-stressed plants are more prone to a spider mite infestation, and they lay their eggs to quickly spread to adjacent plants. These dry conditions are also favorable for other pests with piercing and sucking mouthparts.
In dry conditions, plants tend to get dusty, and this dust attracts spider mites. From a distance, the pests look like tiny specks of dust, so these dry, dusty conditions provide the perfect camouflage to help them disguise themselves. With this in mind, even a master gardener can easily miss them.
Spider mites are attracted to nitrogen-rich environments, so they’ll be attracted to your tomato plants if you’re overusing a nitrogen-rich fertilizer. Too much nitrogen in the soil will affect the absorption of other nutrients, which eventually leads to plant stress.
Weak and stressed plants are less likely to fight off a spider mite infestation, so these pests will spread quickly, attacking different parts of your tomato plants. Because of this, make sure that all of your plants are healthy and stress-free.
Spider mites have no wings, but they’re very lightweight. So with the slightest wind currents, they can soar and travel from one plant to another, quickly spreading in your garden and affecting multiple tomato plants in no time.
Due to their inability to fly, overcrowding your tomato plants makes their job much easier. They also crawl on their silky webs between different parts of the same plant or from one plant to another. Because they’re too tiny, it’s challenging to see them while they travel between your tomato plants.
How To Eliminate Spider Mites on Tomato Plants?
To eliminate spider mites on tomato plants, you can use the mites’ natural predators, but you also need to adjust the growing conditions and make them less favorable for these pests. You can also use natural and chemical pesticides to kill them and keep them away from your garden.
– Make Use of Natural Predators
Spider mites’ natural predators will get rid of these pests and keep your plants healthy. Using biological control is a good method to reduce and eliminate the population of spider mites without introducing any foreign elements or chemical compounds to your garden. This is why this is a good choice if you grow your crops organically.
Ladybugs, thrips, and lacewings are beneficial insects that attack and eat spider mites. These insects can consume hundreds and even thousands of spider mites a day, and they’re perfectly safe for your plants and all other forms of wildlife in your garden.
You can buy these insects online and release them into your garden or in the pots of your indoor tomato plants. They take some time to get rid of the insects, but they’re safe and potent.
– Control Your Plant’s Growing Conditions
Creating unfavorable environmental conditions for spider mites can be a safe way to get rid of them. Since these annoying pests thrive in dry and warm conditions, you need to keep your plant cool and well-hydrated.
As a matter of fact, irregular watering might be the reason why these pests attacked your plant in the first place, so you need to water it regularly, as the extra moisture will repel spider mites.
Maintaining the temperature and heat in the garden can be a challenging task, so you might want to grow your tomatoes in a greenhouse or grow room to keep the plants healthy. You can also use a humidifier to boost moisture and humidity.
Finally, you need to grow your tomatoes in loamy soil with enough organic matter. Tomato plants aren’t picky about soil conditions, but loamy soil allows more moisture to reach different parts of the plant, so it will stay healthy.
– Remove Host Plants
Some plant species are more prone to spider mites. For example, some weeds in the nightshade family can be the host for spider mites that spread to other areas of your garden, eventually affecting your tomato plants.
So if you see signs of spider mites growing on nearby weeds or plants, you need to remove them before they affect your tomatoes. If some of your tomato plants are infested with spider mites, you might want to keep them outside and move the rest of your plants indoors, where they can be protected.
– Apply Essential Oils
Essential oils like chamomile, rosemary, spearmint, and coriander oils are perfectly safe to repel spider mites and can also kill their eggs. At the same time, they’re made of natural ingredients, so they’re not packed with chemicals that deposit in the soil or affect your tomato plants in the long run.
To use essential oils, you need to prepare a spray by mixing water and oil in a spray bottle. Keep this bottle in a cool dark place, and spray the infected parts of the plant every day.
– Use Hot Pepper Spray
Spider mites are highly intolerant of different types of hot peppers. This includes hot bell pepper, chili pepper, jalapeno pepper, cayenne pepper, bishop’s crown pepper, and lemon drop pepper.
Hot peppers contain toxic components that can kill almost 50 percent of spider mites upon contact, so applying pepper repellents will be a fast way to get rid of a serious infestation.
However, you should be careful about using these repellents as they might harm other useful bugs. Moreover, you might develop an allergic reaction because these sprays are very strong.
– Apply Neem Oil
Neem oil is one of the most potent remedies that will kill spider mites within a week or two. This can be done by preparing a soak or a spray, and both will help you deal with an infestation before it gets worse. A neem oil soak is made of raw oil, soap, and water mixed together. This soak is poured into the soil and absorbed by the plant.
The oil contains a chemical component called Azadirachtin, which is then turned into a systemic insecticide that makes spider mites sick every time they try to feed on the leaves.
This chemical compound makes the bugs lose interest in eating, and this inhibits their ability to grow. At the same time, it mimics how different hormones work in the spider mite’s body. Adult spider mites won’t be able to reproduce or lay eggs, so their life cycle will end.
You can make the soak more potent by applying a neem oil spray. This insecticidal soap spray is made of clarified hydrophobic neem oil mixed with soap and water, and when you spray it on the leaves, it covers the bugs and blocks their airways, making them unable to breathe.
Neem oil should be applied for up to 14 days every other day to make sure that all the spider mites have died.
– Try Some Home Remedies
Several home remedies can help eliminate spider mites in your indoor or outdoor garden. These remedies might not be able to get rid of lots of spider mites in one go, but they will help you during the early stages of the infestation.
Hosing the leaves with some water can help rinse the spider mites away. They might drown if you drench them in the water, but they might also be able to come back after the leaves dry.
You can also use rubbing alcohol to eliminate spider mites by soaking a piece of cotton in rubbing alcohol and using it to clean the leaves. After that, you should rinse the leaves with water to wash away the alcohol residue.
Using dish soap when it’s mixed with water has been proven to help repel spider mites. It’s an easy homemade solution and is not toxic to the plant. However, the soap spray should cover both sides of the leaves to be effective, so it can dry the plant out.
Moreover, this solution will only work on adult spider mites. This is why it’s best to use this solution with an indoor tomato plant, where the temperature is typically colder.
– Use a Safe Pesticide
Diatomaceous earth is a safe, organic, food-grade pesticide that can be safely used to kill spider mites without damaging your tomato plant.
It’s not toxic to humans, unlike chemical pesticides, so your tomatoes will be safe to eat. This pesticide works by dehydrating the exoskeleton of the adult spider mites and the larvae so they die. However, it doesn’t work on the eggs.
You should avoid traditional pesticides that contain pyrethroids, which are extracted from the chrysanthemum flower. These pesticides can kill the natural predators of spider mites but won’t affect these annoying pests.
– How Can I Prevent Spider Mites on My Tomato Plant?
To prevent spider mites on your tomato plant, remove any dust to help you see if there’s silky webbing growing on the leaves of your tomato plant. Wiping the leaves of plants with a damp cloth is enough to get rid of any pests that might approach the leaves.
In addition, before introducing any houseplant or any nursery plant to your garden or grow room, make sure that you do the paper test to see if it carries some spider mites.
– How Fast Can Spider Mites Destroy Tomato Plants?
Spider mites can totally destroy your tomato plants within three to five weeks if nothing is done about the infestation. However, in the early stages of the infestation, you can try different treatments which will help you eliminate these annoying pests.
Spider mites on tomato plants cause yellowing of the leaves and can destroy your precious tomatoes. These annoying pests are hard to see, but if you hold a white paper under the leaves and tap on them, you might see them moving, indicating that your plant is infested.
In the latter stages of the infestation, the whole plant will be covered in silky webs.
- Introducing spider mites’ natural predators, like ladybugs, will help get rid of these annoying pests.
- You should make sure that your plant is well-hydrated because spider mites thrive in dry conditions.
- Using essential oils, pepper spray, neem oil, and homemade insecticidal soap will help kill these pests before they destroy your tomato plant.
- You can use a safe pesticide to save your tomato plants.
We hope that with our gardening advice, spider mites won’t be able to affect your vegetable garden from now on!
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