Is that a spider infestation on your trees and plants? They’re probably spider mites!
Spider mites are insects that produce protective silk webs similar to spiders that can be found on deciduous trees, evergreens, and other plants. The mites themselves are nearly microscopic in size, but their webs and the leaf damage they leave behind are easily observed. Many spider mites are common, and in small numbers create only a small threat for your trees. But larger infestations may cause leaf dieback and a decline spiral that can seriously weaken a tree.
Here are some tips for ridding your trees and plants of spider mites:
Spray Your Plants With Water
Spider mite infestations on smaller shrubs and trees are actually easy to control. Spraying the leaves and branches of your trees with a nozzle on your garden hose will dislodge the mites and wash them to the ground. They are not good climbers and will likely die on the ground. This is a quick, organic way to remove spider mites from your trees this winter. While a very forceful stream of water is needed, be careful not to spray the leaves too hard, as you do not want to damage them.
Keep Your Trees Healthy
Keeping your trees healthy is a good way to help prevent pest infestations from taking root. This means ensuring that they are properly watered, mulched, and given the right nutrients when needed. Healthy trees with vitality are better able to get through a small infestation of pests that might otherwise create a spiral of decline in a weaker tree. Healthy trees are also not as attractive to many pests because they have a different smell that may actually repel insects. Trees should also be maintained through correct pruning techniques to remove dead, dying, and weak limbs. Removing weak and dead branches directs energy to the healthy tissue to make it even more robust.
Apply Horticultural Oils
Late winter applications of horticultural oil coats the bare twigs with a very thin layer oil. This one treatment might be the best investment in preventive sprays that you can make. Call a professional tree care company like Hansen’s Tree Service to ask about horticultural, or dormant, oil treatments for spider mites. These oils are highly refined and mixed at 1-2% with water before being sprayed on trees and shrubs. The oils essentially suffocate overwintering eggs of many pests, including spider mites and their eggs.
Schedule a hassle free plant health care and diagnosis consultation to determine when and if your trees can benefit from horticultural oils.