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ArborCare ArborScape (801) 972-Tree (8733)

What Are Spider Mites?

There are many species of spider mites. Spider mites are not actually insects, being in the arachnid family more closely related to spiders. They have eight legs, vary in color depending on the species, and are very tiny. Often a magnifying lens is needed to see them, making it difficult to determine if spider mites are present until the population is high and has already started causing damage. Most spider mites prefer hot, dry weather, making Utah summers the perfect climate for them to thrive.

What Can Spider Mites do to My Landscape?

Spider mites attack a variety of ornamental plantings, both trees and shrubs. The damaged foliage tends to be off-color, ranging from just lighter than that of healthy foliage to bronze or tan. The damage is sometimes confused with nutrient deficiency or water shortage. As populations increase the presence of tiny, very fine webbing may be present, or the stippling on the leaves can become evident from the feeding. The leaves often have a "dirty" look to them from the mite's webs, eggs, and frass.

Spider mites feed on the leaves with piercing-sucking mouthparts. This means to feed, their mouthparts break through the cell walls and suck out the contents. The stippling is caused because individual cells die. With this type of feeding, bad infestations may lead to the death of the leaf and sometimes the entire plant. Some spider mites feed on the buds which can cause distorted leaves, flowers, etc. due to the individual cells dying and being unable to grow while the healthy cells elongate. This type of feeding is unlikely to cause death to the entire plant.

What Can I do to Control Spider Mites?

Important steps in spider mite control are watering and mulching. These help promote the health and vigor of the plant. Healthy plants are always more resistant to insects, mites, and disease. However, when spider mite populations get bad enough they will sometimes even spread into healthy plants making control methods necessary.

Adequate control of spider mites on certain plants can sometimes be achieved using dormant horticultural oil sprays. Oils suffocate the eggs, significantly reducing the population for the following year. As with all oil sprays you must have good coverage on the entire plant for this to be effective.

When mite populations are discovered during their active stages there are a variety of miticides available for control. Many miticides have a long residual and provide good control. Multiple applications, however, may be necessary for best control depending on the level of infestation because of the length of time mites are active during the year.

What Can ArboCare Do For Me?

Arborcare provides both dormant oil and active miticide spray applications. Dormant horticultural oils can be sprayed in either the spring or the fall. Active miticides are applied during our summer inspection and treatment programs, usually June through September. When we come to your property we inspect your plants for spider mites, as well as other pests, and only spray what needs to be treated or is more likely to have the problem spread to it.


If you have any questions or would like to speak with an ArborCare representative regarding your tree care needs, please e-mail us at or call us at (801) 972-8733.


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