Houzz Logo Print

Spider Mites ID / advice on preventative measures for other plants

5 years ago

Hi all -

I'm running into pest issues with my houseplants for the first time and would love advice. I've read a ton of posts on this forum and across the internet but am still a little confused -- especially with spider mites which the internet states "you're doomed, throw out all your plants." Sorry that this post is so long but I'm hoping for both help & hope!

2 weeks ago, I found mealybugs on my string of pearls, and isolated it and have been treating it with neem oil spray and rubbing alcohol. It seems like it's clearing up but it's only been 2 weeks. When I noticed the mealybugs it was pretty bad, as the entire plant was very sticky and you could easily see the bugs.

Last night, on my bird's nest fern I found in the drip tray: a few tiny thin worms, a few ants, and 1-2 teeny tiny bugs (spider mites?). At the base where the leaves met there was a little white fuzz, but the rest of the plant seemed totally healthy. I freaked out and threw the entire plant out. I didn't take a picture, but the fuzz could have been either spider mite webs or from mealybugs (this plant was previously next to the infected string of pearls). But since I saw a teeny tiny critter in the drip tray, I thought better safe than sorry.

Then, I was inspecting my philodendron xandu, and found a web covering the top of one leaf. The rest of the plant seems healthy, no other signs of any webbing anywhere on/under the leaves or in the cracks of the stems. I removed the leaf, put the plant in the shower and hosed it off, and soaked it in neem oil spray. Looking at the leaf though, it doesn't look similar to spider mite photos I found online, and nothing was moving or crawling in it. Note this plant was probably 10 feet from the bird's nest fern but may have come in contact on watering day.

1) String of pearls - How long should I continue treating with Neem oil until it can be considered "pest free" and safe to put back with my other plants? I haven't seen any mealy bugs in several days.

2) Xandu leaf webbing - Is this spider mites? No other signs of webs and the leaves seem healthy and spot free. If it is spider mites, what is suggested length of treatment (neem oil, and dr bonners for insecticidal soap -- I can't do chemicals with my pets) before it can be considered pest-free?

3) If I have spider mites, how far away should I space all my plants from each other? I have a small apartment and am running out of isolation spaces. I did read that mealybugs don't travel far so I'm assuming with those a foot or so with no leaves touching is plenty.

4) Watering - I normally put my plants in the sink to water. How do I ensure I don't transfer pests via the sink?

5) Preventative - If I do have additional pests, how long should I treat plants (and with what: neem, soap, both?) that currently show no signs of pests as a preventative measure? (side note: I live in a high rise apartment, so coating all my plants regularly makes both a massive mess and provides more opportunity for cross contamination due to limited counter space -- not ideal).

6) Insecticidal soap - Does anybody have a good resource / list of which plants are sensitive to insecticidal soap? I made a mix of dr bonners castile soap and water, but did read some plants are sensitive but I can't find a list.

7) Am I totally over-reacting? The stories you read online about spider mites are terrifying.

Thank you for all your help. I keep finding conflicting information online and am really stressed as I do not want to lose all of my plants, some of them are pretty sentimental. I'm also limited in options as I don't have a yard to regularly hose off plants or spray them down with insecticides. At the same time, due to other factors, I'm limited on the additional stress I can handle in my life at this time as well and the plants used to be a source of joy and calm. Now it feels like opposite day. Agghh.

Comments (6)