Spider Mites: A Persistent Threat to Alabama Trees and Plants
Spider mites are common pests in landscapes and gardens across Alabama, particularly in the Birmingham and Huntsville regions.
These tiny arachnids can cause significant damage to various fruit trees, vines, berries, vegetables, and ornamental plants.
Ace Tree Services is committed to providing detailed information on spider mites, the harm they cause, and the solutions we offer to help control and prevent infestations.
What Are Spider Mites?
Though related to insects, mites are part of the arachnid class, sharing this classification with spiders and ticks. Spider mites are the most common mite pests and are prevalent in gardens and on farms. They appear as tiny moving dots to the naked eye but can be seen easily with a 10X hand lens. Spider mites live in colonies, primarily on the undersides of leaves, with a single colony containing hundreds of individuals. Their name originates from the silk webbing they produce on infested leaves, which distinguishes them from other mites and small insects like aphids and thrips.
Why Are Spider Mites a Problem?
Spider mites damage plants by sucking cell contents from leaves. While a small number of mites typically isn't cause for concern, high populations can harm plants, particularly herbaceous ones. Initial damage appears as light stippling on leaves, which may take on a bronze hue. As feeding continues, leaves turn yellowish or reddish and eventually drop off. Webbing often covers leaves, twigs, and fruit. Damage is usually more severe when combined with water stress.
What Can Ace Tree Services Do?
Cultural Control - Syringing: Using a forceful jet of water from a hose can help control spider mites on most ornamental plants. This method mimics the effects of rainfall and conserves natural predators.
Cultural Control - Quarantine and Inspection: Twospotted spider mites are often introduced on infested plants. Inspect new plants for mite activity and quarantine them until you are confident no mites are present.
Biological Control - Predators: Insects like lacewings and lady beetles prey on spider mites. Predatory mites (Phytoseiulus spp., Amblyseius spp., or Metaseiulus spp.) can be purchased and released onto infested plants.
Chemical Control - "Soft Pesticides": Insecticidal/miticidal oils and soaps can control most spider mites. Horticultural oil and dormant oil are suitable, while insecticidal/miticidal soaps are useful during the warm season. Regular monitoring is essential for maintaining control.
Chemical Control - Miticides: In heavy infestations, miticides may be used for longer residual control. However, due to rapid reproduction, resistance can build quickly, and multiple treatments with similar products can be counterproductive. Ideally, a one-time application would be performed, and less impactful options would be used once control is established.
Ace Tree Services strives to help Alabama residents in the Birmingham and Huntsville areas protect their trees and plants from spider mite infestations. Our expert advice and effective treatment solutions will ensure the health and beauty of your landscape. Call an ISA certified arborist from Ace Tree Service at (205) 332-7757!