Can spider mites live without plants? Let’s find out

Take it from somebody that has experienced spider mites in the past, they can be a real pain in the you know where. Pests are just a part of life when it comes to gardening and growing plants indoors in general, so unfortunately there is no real way to avoid them. So allow me to answer your question… Can spider mites live without plants – let’s find out:

Can spider mites live without plants snippet image

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Can spider mites live without plants?

The answer is yes but not for very long. Spider mites can only servive for a maximum of 12 days without plants (providing the conditions are optimal). If the conditions are not right, you can only expect them to live between 3-5 days. Spider mites are what are known as “plant-parasitic” pests, which means that they rely on plants for food and shelter.

spider mite populations

What are spider mites?

The genus name for the spider mites is Tetranychidae, which is a taxonomic category of arachnids that includes ticks and mites. They are very small in size, measuring just about 1/20th of an inch long. The majority of spider mites are red or brown, but some can be yellow, green, or almost translucent.

Spider mites spin webs which act as protection from the elements and also from prey such as ladybugs and birds. These mites pierce the plant cells in order to feed, which in turn stunts the growth of the plant and causes discolouration of the leaves. If left unchecked, spider mites can completely destroy plants and flowers.

Incredibly, spider mites can live and thrive on thousands of different species of plants and it’s almost a guarantee that if you have plants – spider mites will eventually find them. They are most prevalent in hot and dry conditions, which is why they are such a problem in greenhouses and during the summer months.

If, like me, you find yourself with a spider mite infestation, don’t worry too much, there are plenty of ways to get rid of them (and prevent them from coming back).

spider mite eggs

How do you know if it’s spider mites?

The easiest way to tell if your plants have spider mites is to look for webbing on the undersides of the leaves. You might also see stippling (tiny dots) on the upper surface of the leaves, which is caused by the mites piercing the cells to feed.

If you suspect that your plants have spider mites, hold a piece of white paper or cloth beneath a leaf and tap it gently – if you have spider mites you will see tiny moving specks on the paper.

Another tell-tale sign of spider mite damage is leaves that appear dull, discolored, or curled up. This is because spider mites suck out the chlorophyll from plants, which ultimately leads to plant death.

Here are a few other things to keep in mind:

  • Warm temperatures – as I mentioned earlier, spider mites thrive in hot and dry conditions. If the temperature in your home or greenhouse is consistently above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s more likely that you’ll have an infestation.
  • Crowded plants – if your plants are overcrowded, they are more likely to be stressed, which makes them more attractive to spider mites. This is why it’s important to give your plants enough space to grow and to regularly check for pests.
  • Dry conditions – spider mites like it dry, so if the air in your home or greenhouse is particularly dry, that could be why you’re seeing an infestation.
  • Damaged plants – damaged or sick plants are more likely to be infested with spider mites because they are already stressed. This is why it’s important to regularly check your plants for signs of stress or damage.
indoor plants

Spider mites’ life cycle

Spider mite infestations can affect all sorts of plants not only in your garden but also the plants that you are nurturing indoors. And the reason for this? It’s all down to their amazing reproductive capacity.

A single female spider mite can lay up to 20 eggs per day, and in ideal conditions (i.e. warm and dry), a new generation can be produced every 7-10 days. This means that an infestation can escalate very quickly if left unchecked.

The life cycle of a spider mite goes like this:

  • Egg – the female spider mite lays her eggs on the underside of leaves.
  • Larva – after 2-3 days, the eggs hatch into larvae. The larvae are mobile and start to feed immediately.
  • Nymph – after 5-6 days, the larvae molt (shed their skin) and become nymphs. Nymphs are similar to adults, but they are smaller and don’t yet have fully developed reproductive organs.
  • Adult – after 7-10 days, the nymphs molt one final time and become adults. Adults are about 0.5 mm long and can start reproducing immediately.
spider mite control

Can plants recover from spider mites?

The short answer is yes, plants can recover from spider mites. However, the damage caused by spider mites can be significant, and in some cases, it might not be possible for a plant to fully recover.

If you catch an infestation early on, it’s more likely that your plants will be able to recover with minimal damage. However, if the infestation is left unchecked, the damage can be irreversible.

This is why it’s so important to regularly check your plants for signs of stress or damage and to take action immediately if you see any evidence of spider mites.

How to get rid of spider mites

If you suspect that your plants have spider mites, there are a few things you can do to get rid of them.

First, make sure that your plants are healthy and not stressed. Stressed plants are more likely to be infested with spider mites, so it’s important to give your plants the care they need. This includes making sure they have enough space to grow, adequate water and nutrients, and the right temperature and humidity levels.

Once you’ve made sure that your plants are healthy, you can start treating them for spider mites. There are a few different ways to do this:

Organic methods

One of the best ways to get rid of spider mites is to introduce predators such as ladybugs, lacewings, or predatory mites. You can also try spraying your plants with an organic insecticide such as neem oil or pyrethrin.

Chemical methods

If organic methods don’t work, you can try using a chemical insecticide such as carbaryl or permethrin. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully and only use these products as a last resort.

Prevention is the best cure

The best way to deal with spider mites is to prevent them from happening in the first place. This means regular checks of your plants for signs of stress or damage, and taking action immediately if you see any evidence of spider mites. It also means creating an environment that is unfavorable for spider mites, such as maintaining high humidity levels.

adult spider mites


In this article, we have looked at spider mites and whether not they can live without plants. We have also looked at the damage they can cause to plants and how to get rid of them. Let’s summarise everything below:

  • Spider mites can survive for up to 12 days without plants if the conditions are right
  • They will die within 3-5 days if conditions are not optimum
  • Spider mites are plant-parasitic pests
  • Spider mites are part of the arachnids family which includes ticks and mites
  • They are small in size only measuring 1/20th of an inch
  • They are red, brown, yellow or green in colour depending on the crop they consume
  • Lady bugs are a great organic pesticide
  • Spider bugs can be found on the underside of leaves
  • Spider mites love warm temperatures, crowded planting areas, damaged plants and dry conditions
  • Spider mite’s life cycle goes from egg, larva, nymph and adult
  • Plants can recover from spider mites if the infestation isn’t too severe
  • You can get rid of spider mites using neem oil or pyrethrin
spider mites feed

People Also Ask

What kills spider mites and their eggs?

There are a few things that can kill spider mites and their eggs. These include Ladybugs, Lacewings, Predatory Mites, Neem Oil and Pyrethrin.

Does Dawn dish soap work for spider mites?

Yes, Dawn dish soap can work for spider mites. It is effective at killing them and their eggs. You can make a solution by mixing 1 part Dawn dish soap with 10 parts water.

Can spider mites live on humans?

No, spider mites cannot live on humans. They are plant-parasitic pests and require plants to survive.

spider mites cannot live on humans

Can spider mites live in soil?

Yes, spider mites can live in the soil. However, they prefer to live on plants where they can feed off of the plant’s juices.

What plants are prone to spider mites?

Some of the plants that are prone to spider mites include roses, tomatoes, eggplants, beans, and peppers. These plants are typically found in warm or dry environments.

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Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright

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