Spider mite web on plant leaves.

How to Get Rid of Spider Mites on Indoor Plants

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Are your houseplants starting to look sad? Are the leaves yellowing, drooping, or starting to fall off?

It’s possible you have spider mites. Especially if you recently brought home a new plant or brought them in from outside.

These tiny bugs can cause a lot of damage to indoor plants if left untreated. 

Read on to learn about the signs and symptoms of a spider mite infestation and what to do about it.

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What are spider mites?

Spider mites macro.

Spider mites are tiny arachnids that feed on the underside of plant leaves. They have eight legs, just like normal spiders.

Adult spider mites are about the size of a pinhead (1/50th of an inch), while nymphs (baby spider mites) are even smaller.

Both adults and nymphs pierce plant leaves with their needle-like mouthparts to suck out the sap. This feeding damages the plant, causing the leaves to yellow, discolor, or drop off entirely.

Spider mites are a common plant pest, both indoors and outdoors. They can infest all kinds of plants, including fruit trees, vegetables, and ornamentals.

They are most identifiable by the webbing that they spin on plants. Though this is most notable with large infestations.

Large infestations will kill the plant they are feeding on, though most plants can tolerate smaller infestations.

How long do spider mites live?

Adult female spider mites can live for up to 2 months and lay hundreds of eggs over their lifetime.

Eggs hatch in 3-5 days and nymphs mature into adults in 7-14 days, depending on the temperature and humidity.

This means that a new generation of spider mites can be born every week or two, leading to a population explosion if left unchecked.

What do spider mite eggs look like?

Spider mite eggs are tiny, oval-shaped, and usually pale in color (white, yellow, or green).

They are often found on the underside of plant leaves in small clusters.

How do you get spider mites?

Spider mites can come into your home a few different ways:

  • Bringing a new plant home – it doesn’t matter where you get it from, any new plant has the potential to have spider mites
  • Outdoor plants – moving plants outside during the summer can expose them to spider mites
  • Using unsterile potting soil when you repot your plants
  • Cut flowers and vegetables that you bring in from your garden
  • The wind can bring them in through any open windows or doors

Symptoms of spider mites on indoor plants 

Spider mite webbing on leaves.

The first step in getting rid of spider mites is to identify an infestation. This can be tricky as they are so small.

But there are a few key symptoms to look for, including

  • Yellowing or discoloring leaves
  • Stippling or bronzing on the leaves
  • Leaves that are dropping off
  • Spider webbing around the leaves and stems

How do you get rid of spider mites on house plants?

If you think your plant has spider mites, there are a few things you can do to get rid of them.

Spray with water

Several house plants in a bathtub.

One of the easiest ways to get rid of spider mites is to spray them off with water. This will knock them off the plant’s leaves and potentially out of the pot.

You can do this with a garden hose, a spray bottle, or even just by holding the plant under the faucet. Just be sure to get the undersides of the leaves where they are likely to be hiding.

Do this once a week for a few weeks and you should see a reduction in the spider mite population.

Can you drown spider mites?

According to Hidden Valley Hibiscus, it is possible to drown spider mites. But, you won’t drown them just by spraying them with water.

You have to place the plant, pot and all, completely underwater for 45 to 60 minutes.

If you use too hot of water or leave the plant under water for too long, you could kill the plant.

Too cold of water or not long enough under the water can leave some of the spider mites alive. Not putting the pot and soil under the water with the leaves will also leave some alive.

Prune infested leaves

If there are only a few leaves that are infested, you can try pruning them off. This will remove the spider mites from the plant and stop them from doing any more damage.

Be sure to dispose of the leaves in a sealed bag so the spider mites don’t escape and infest other plants.

Use Neem Oil

Neem oil is a natural insecticide that can be effective against spider mites. It works by disrupting their life cycle and preventing them from reproducing.

You can find neem oil at most garden stores or online. Many places sell neem oil ready to use if you don’t want to mix it yourself. Just be sure to shake the bottle frequently when using it as it does separate.

To use, properly mix the neem oil and fill a spray bottle, or use premixed neem oil that comes in a spray bottle. Mist the plant, being sure to get the undersides of the leaves.

Do this every 5 to 7 days for 3 to 4 weeks and you should see the end of your spider mite infestation.

Use Insecticidal Soap

Insecticidal soap is another option for getting rid of spider mites. It works by suffocating them.

You can find insecticidal soap at most garden stores or online. You can also make your own with vegetable oil, dish soap and water.

Apartment Therapy says to spray the insecticidal soap directly on the spider mites, making sure to get them thoroughly wet. This needs to be done weekly until all the spider mites are gone.

Bring in ladybugs

According to Leafy Journal, ladybugs eat all life stages of spider mites and can eat approximately 90 of them in a day.

You can buy these at some garden stores or on Amazon and release them near your plants.

The downside to ladybugs is that you would then have them in your house. Some people may not mind that, but if you do, try a different method.

Hydrogen peroxide for spider mites

Hydrogen peroxide can be used to get rid of spider mites by spraying it on the leaves. It will kill the adults, but not the eggs.

Gardening Today says to mix 1 cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide with 1 cup of water and put it in a spray bottle. Then spray the plant, making sure to get all of the foliage.

Since this method doesn’t kill the eggs, it needs to be repeated daily for at least a week. Make sure to mix a new batch daily to ensure effectiveness.

For sensitive plants or any that you are concerned about being damaged, test a small area first. Wait a few days to see if it affected the plant before spraying the whole plant.

Diatomaceous earth for spider mites

Diatomaceous earth is a natural powder that can be used to kill spider mites. It works by slashing through the exoskeleton and protective coatings of the spider mites.

While diatomaceous earth is effective in killing spider mites, the application of it can be difficult. For it to work, spider mites have to walk through it.

Since spider mites mostly stay in the leaves, it needs to be applied to both the top and the bottom of all the leaves. As a powder, this is not an easy thing to do.

Spray with chemical pesticide

Another option is using a chemical pesticide.

Pesticides can be effective, but they need to be used properly to avoid damaging your plants. Always follow the directions on the package and take caution when using them.

Many pesticides are broad-spectrum, meaning they will kill any insects, not just spider mites. This can be beneficial if you have a plant that is being overrun by multiple pests.

Pesticides can also be harmful to people and pets, so be sure to take the necessary precautions when using them.

If you are uncomfortable using a chemical pesticide, try the other methods above.

Toss the plant

Sometimes, the best way to get rid of spider mites is to just toss the plant. If the plant is really struggling or has a really bad infestation, it may be time to just toss it in the garbage.

If you decide you don’t want to deal with the plant that has spider mites, place the plant, dirt and all, in a garbage bag and take it outside immediately. If you don’t care about the pot, toss that too.

If you keep the pot, make sure to give it a good cleaning. Maybe even soak in hot water for an hour too.

Keep in mind that spider mites could still be in your home even if you get rid of the infested plant. Be sure to check your other plants and take steps to prevent them from being infested.

How to prevent spider mites on indoor plants

The best way to get rid of spider mites is to prevent them from infesting your plants in the first place.

Quarantine new plants

When you bring a new plant home, it’s best to quarantine it for a few weeks. This will help to prevent any pests or diseases from spreading to your other plants.

To properly quarantine a plant, put it in a separate room away from your other plants. Inspect the plant thoroughly and if you see any spider mites, take steps to get rid of them immediately.

After a few weeks, if the plant is still spider mite free, you can then add it to your collection.

Proper watering and humidity

The first step is to make sure you are properly watering your plants. Spider mites like dry conditions.

This means that if your plant is too dry, it will be more susceptible to an infestation.

Be sure to water your plants on a regular basis and don’t let the soil dry out too much.

Increasing the humidity around your plants will also reduce the chances of getting a spider mite infestation. You can do this by misting them with water or using a humidifier near your plants.

Systemic miticide for spider mites

Systemic miticides work by being absorbed into the plant and killing spider mites when they feed on the plant.

This means they are most effective when used as a preventative measure, not after an infestation has started.

When used regularly, a systemic will help prevent spider mites from taking over your plants.

My experience with spider mites

I have had spider mites several times now and every case of spider mites that I’ve had has come from one of two sources. It’s been from getting new plants or bringing potted plants in for the winter.

I have lost several plants to spider mite infestations, but I’ve also saved many. Unfortunately, due to space limitations, if I find spider mites on one plant, several others have been exposed.

The first year I had spider mites I didn’t know what was going on or what to look for. I had a beautiful dracaena palm that I brought in for the winter.

Purple dracaena palm.

Shortly after bringing it in, it started to struggle. I initially thought that it was struggling due to the change in light. I tried to increase the light but it didn’t help.

As the dracaena palm kept worsening I discovered spider webs in the center of it. Upon closer inspection I saw tiny specks moving on the webbing. 

I had never heard of spider mites before that day. I looked it up and found out that little specks moving on spider webs on a plant are spider mites.

I also found out that if you have them on one houseplant, chances are they are on other plants.

I looked at all of my plants (and I have A LOT of plants) I found evidence of spider mites on my large hibiscus and a few others. 

After some research I decided to treat my plants with a combination of methods. I tossed the worst plant, the dracaena. It was in such bad condition that I didn’t think it would survive treatment.

The rest of my plants I sprayed with water in my shower. It was too cold to take them outside and many wouldn’t fit in my kitchen sink.

After showering them and letting the leaves dry, I sprayed them all with neem oil, choosing Bonide neem oil because it was all I could find locally in November.

Several house plants on a table.

I moved all of my plants to the same room to make the process easier. I don’t recommend this unless you have spider mites in each area of your house, which I did.

I repeated the showering and neem oil application once a week for 4 weeks. The spider mites were gone, but I had also lost a few more plants.

Unfortunately, the time of year made it harder on my plants. My house is cool in the late fall/early winter which makes it harder for dirt to dry. The remaining plants that died, died from being too wet.

Since that year I have been better able to spot spider mites. I check my plants more often, especially after bringing home new plants and only treat those that are most likely to have been exposed.

I still lose plants to spider mites, but most of the time it’s the plant that came home with them.


Do ants eat spider mites?

Yes, ants will eat spider mites. This is helpful for outdoor plants, but not indoor plants.

What temperature kills spider mites?

Spider mites can survive in a wide range of temperatures, but according to HGIC Clemson, they are most active between 48°F and 111°F.

Do spider mites die in the cold?

Spider mites do not die in the cold, but they do become less active.

In colder regions, outdoor spider mites will overwinter in the soil.

Do spider mites live in soil?

It’s possible for them to live in soil, but they mainly live where their food is, on the plant. They do overwinter in the soil in colder climates.

Does bleach kill spider mites?

Yes, bleach will kill spider mites, but it may not kill the eggs. It could also harm your plants.

Bleach would be best used on empty pots that had a plant with spider mites. That way you don’t risk harming the plant.

How long can spider mites live without plants?

Spider mites can live without plants for 10 to 12 days in optimal conditions. After that they will start to die.

Do ladybugs eat spider mites and eggs?

Yes, they eat all stages of the spider mite life cycle, the eggs, larvae, nymphs, and mature spider mites.


Spider mites can be devastating to house plants, but they don’t have to be.

By checking your plants regularly and treating them at the first sign of spider mites, you can keep them from killing your plants.

And if you’re plants are currently free of spider mites, follow the prevention tips above to reduce your chances of ever having spider mites in your home.

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Pin image for 9 ways to get rid of spider mites with some leaves covered in spider mite webs.