What is the best natural way to kill spider mites on plants? My neighbor tried a pesticide from the hardware store but it didn’t help. I want to try something different that won’t hurt bees or beneficial insects.
Stephanie Wilson, Portland, OR
Unfortunately, spider mites are sometimes resistant to pesticides. And pesticides often harm more than their intended target. When growing vegetables in pots, you may be more susceptible to this problem.
There is more than one natural way to kill spider mites on your plants. One easy method is to mix one part rubbing alcohol with one part water, then spray the leaves. The alcohol will kill the mites without harming the plants.
Another natural solution to get rid of these tiny pests is to use liquid dish soap. The soap suffocates the mites without harming the plants where they live. The recipe for how to make the mix is in this article about the best natural way to kill spider mites on plants here.
Neem oil is another natural mite killer that won’t harm beneficial insects. It’s safe to use on vegetables that grow in shade and fruits as well as houseplants. Some people mix neem oil with dish soap for even better results.
You can also protect your plants from new infestations of spider mites by dusting them with diatomaceous earth. Just be sure to use food grade diatomaceous earth to kill spider mitesinstead of pool grade because it’s safe to handle. This natural product dries out the spider mites and kills them.
Finally, you can try fighting spider mites with a predator mite. There are at least three species that will decimate a spider mite infestation without damaging your plants. You can buy some of these at a nursery or garden center.