The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Pests are one of my biggest nightmares as a plant owner and I unfortunately had to deal with a spider mite infestation for the first time this week. These tiny white spiders are hard to spot until their webs have spread across your plants leaves and there is a sizable spider mite population. It’s a pretty icky sight—I almost cried. To hopefully save you all from some of the terror and dread of encountering this problem, here is what I did to get rid of them.
- Spray bottle
- 70% rubbing alcohol
- Dish soap
- Paper towel
- Create a solution with ½ cup rubbing alcohol, 15 oz. water, and a couple drops of dish soap (scale up or down depending on how much you think you’ll need). Pour this into your spray bottle and make sure it’s evenly mixed.
- Physically remove whatever webs and mites you can scoop off. This is the scariest and worst part. Wear gloves.
- Spray some paper towel with the solution and wipe down as many leaves as you can. Be sure to wipe the tops and undersides of the leaves. This is also a good time to remove some dead leaves on plants like ivy that can get pretty bushy.
- Mist all the leaves with the solution, covering any leaves you may not have been able to wipe. Make sure the plant is evenly covered. This should kill the remaining mites. You can wipe the leaves down with a dry paper towel if you wish, but I left them to air dry.
- Separate your plants. Quarantining prevents the infestation from spreading from plant to plant, so keep them apart for a few days to make sure the mites haven’t come back.
- Re-spray twice a week until you’re sure the infestation is gone.
Misting your plants to keep the leaves wet is a good preventative measure for spider mites. If your plant does not handle extra moisture well, at least wiping dust off the leaves will help too. I suspect my infestation either came from leaving my plants outside while watering them or my newest plant came home with them. If you do leave your plants outside, check them carefully for spider mites or any other bugs before you bring them back inside. When you get a new plant – especially if you buy them from the clearance rack like I do—inspect them carefully and keep them away from your other plants for the first few days to make sure an infestation doesn’t flare up. You can also spray them with the cleaning solution if you are particularly concerned.