The Many Types of Spider Mites

October 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Spider Mites 

Perhaps you have heard of spider mites in relation to damaged house plants; perhaps you’ve even dealt with spider mite infestations yourself. But were you aware that there are more than one species of spider mite? There’s actually about 1,200 species within the Acari family of arachnids. And as arachnids, spider mites are not insects – even though we commonly refer to them as such.

Spider mites get their name not because they resemble spiders – many don’t in fact – but because they spin beautiful and complex webs that can resemble fine silk. The big difference between the spider mite and their more well-known cousins is that the mite uses the web as a means of transportation and a medium to lay eggs in. Spiders, on the other hand, mostly use their webs catch prey.

Tetranychus Urticae

Tetranychus urticae, known more commonly as the twospotted spider mite is the most well-known and the most prolific. It has a fierce reputation for being able to destroy large amounts of vegetation with little effort. It is also the species that most commonly invades house plants and gardens in North America. Although they can barely be seen by the naked eye, under a microscope you could definitely identify them by the two spots on either side of their bodies.

Tetranychus Urticae

Two-Spotted Spider Mites - Tetranychus Urticae

These particular spider mites love warm and dry weather because it’s optimal for both their breeding and their feeding. In terms of their breeding cycle, if temperature and humidity are just right a colony can go from a small number of spider mites to thousands in a very short period of time. In terms of their feeding, plant structures undergo certain chemical changes when they began to dry out, thereby providing a source of “super food” optimized for spider might health and breeding.

Other Species

Two more of the most well-known spider mites include panonychus citri and panonychus ulmi. Both will attack all sorts of vegetation though they favor fruit trees. Panonychus ulmi, in particular, is a European variety of spider mite that is dark red in color. This mite is as prolific in southwestern Europe as the twospotted spider mite is in North America. It has an extremely quick breeding cycle which can result in thousands of offspring from a single female.

Panonychus Citri

Panonychus Citri

Though there are thousands of species of spider mites they all have two things in common: they reproduce very quickly and they eat voraciously. Their breeding cycle is the key to their survival especially when you consider they have so many natural predators. In other words, spider mites survive simply by sheer numbers. That’s why using chemical pesticides is not necessarily the best way to deal with them.

If you are suffering a spider mite infestation in your home or garden, we recommend you use an organic miticide like Liquid Ladybug. Liquid Ladybug will help you eradicate spider mites without harming natural predators and it will not pose a danger to your children and pets.

Image Citation: Frank Peairs, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org
Image Citation: Jim Baker, North Carolina State University, Bugwood.org

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