How to Get Rid of Spider Mites on Bonsai?

One of the most frustrating aspects of caring for bonsai plants is dealing with pests. Scale, fungal infections and insects infecting your tree are common problems that will affect all bonsai owners at some point. One of the most common pests we see spider mites on bonsai, which can be hard to spot until you look for them.

Let’s look at how to get rid of spider mites on bonsai trees, as well as what they are and how you can identify them.

Common pests on disease on Bonsai Tree

There are variety of  common pests and diseases on bonsai trees these are below-


Aphids, such as blackflies, are common in many climates and suck sap from the stems, leaves and fruits of garden plants and carry viruses. Once found, they must be eliminated. They are easy to see; You may notice curling of leaves and new shoots.

Like most aphids, green flies were named after their color. Aphids especially attack thin leaves, deciduous trees. They hide under leaves and young stems and secrete a sticky “honeydew”. Prune damaged shoots.

Spider Mites

Spider mites on Bonsai

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Found in most climates, these red or black “pinhead” mites can be found under branches or in cracks in the bark. They feed on algae on the bark, but do not harm plant growth. They are nasty, but can be removed with a toothbrush.

Spittle bugs

The larvae of this insect, found in many climates, live in sputum-like masses on leaves and shoots. They thrive on plant sap. Damage is similar to that done by aphids. Remove “spit” by wiping with a damp cloth or spraying with clean water.

Scale insects
They are a group of tiny, sap-sucking insects that look like hard white, yellow, red or brown blisters on leaves and stems. Symptoms of damage are a sooty mold and a sticky “sweet snot” leaf coating. A systemic insecticide is effective.

As the eggs hatch in the spring, the caterpillars will begin feeding on young leaves and stems. It is best to pick them by hand or use a contact spray. Remove damaged leaves to improve plant appearance.

Slugs and snails

They attack roots, stems and leaves and later make large holes. Liquid slug-killers, which must be watered, are not very suitable for bonsai, because there is not much soil in the pot. Instead, leave cream or pellet-type slug bait near the container.

Vine Weevils
Adult beetles crinkle leaves, leaving jagged edges; Larvae feed on roots. Getting rid of areas where larvae occur can be a problem because they can stay in the soil for up to six months and go undetected until re-establishment. Soak the vessel in the solution of gamma-HCH.

Leaf Miners
If you notice brown or white marks on the leaves, it’s likely caused by leaf miners feeding on the soft, internal tissue. These pests are larvae that hatch from eggs laid by beetles and flies on the underside of leaves. They have a blister-like appearance. On bonsai, remove dead leaves and spray regularly with insecticides.

Peach leaf curl

This problem, which damages leaves and therefore weakens the tree, occurs in many climates but is limited to a few Prunus species. Reddish blisters develop on the leaves, enlarge and turn white. Leaves are deformed, discolored and fall off. Fungi can survive the winter. Destroy affected leaves and spray copper fungicide.

Powdery Mildew
Spores of this fungus, which thrive in damp conditions, appear as white, powdery patches on the leaves and stems, especially of oak, hawthorn and crab apple. They secrete sap, which reduces the vigor of the plant. Remove affected shoots on which the disease is most prevalent during winter. Regular preventive treatment is important.

What is spider Mites?

Spider mites are not spiders,they are mites. These are actually small arachnids that feed on plants and tree sap. They move into colonies and reproduce rapidly within a week or two. Eggs laid under silk webs can hatch thousands of baby spider mites on a single leaf.

The most common species internationally is the two-spotted spider mite (AKA red spider mite) which lives under leaves.

What do spider mite look like?

Almost too small to see with the naked eye, an adult spider mite measures about 1/50-inch. It has four sets of legs and an oval body and can be transparent, green, brown or orange-red. If you put two spotted species under a magnifying glass, you will see two black spots on the back.

Spider Mites Life Cycle

Spider mites reproduce very quickly, which is one reason they are such an important pest. They go through the following developmental stages: egg, larva, protonymph, deutonymph and adult.

Eggs hatch 3 to 6 days after laying and are ready for breeding after another 4-9 days. This is important to remember because even if you remove all the adult mites, the eggs may hatch a few days later and continue to infest your bonsai tree.

How long do spider mites live?

Adult spider mites live about 30 days, and an egg can take 8-17 days to develop into an adult.

How spider mites are spread

Spider mites can spread through several routes. The most common way to introduce them to your garden is from other plants, such as plants purchased from a nursery or online store. They can also spread through other routes such as bird or animal fur.

What spider Mites do to plants?

Spider mites feed on plants by penetrating the cellular structure of an individual plant cell and sucking the contents of that cell. This causes plant cells to die, leading to health problems for your bonsai plant.

Spider mites feed specifically on chlorophyll, the green pigment in cells. Chlorophyll is used in photosynthesis to capture UV rays and convert water and carbon dioxide into sugars (energy). Spider mites have a stylus that protrudes from the mouth to penetrate the cell wall and suck up all the nutritious chlorophyll.

What causes spider mites on bonsai?

Spider mites on bonsai thrive in warm, dry conditions. They become more prevalent during the summer months, where heat, drought, and reduced relative humidity facilitate the growth of spider mite populations. Spider mites can also be a problem for indoor bonsai, where conditions are almost always warm, dry and with low humidity. Spider mites also thrive in dusty conditions, which can be a problem for both indoor and outdoor bonsai if the leaves start to build up dust.

What are signs of spider mites?

Being able to identify and treat pests is an essential part of good bonsai care. Spider mite symptoms will vary based on the plant affected and the severity of the spider mite infestation.
Symptoms of spider mites include:

  • Dulling of the foliage color
  • Yellow of foliage
  • Loss of vigor
  • Fine webbing

What are the first signs of spider mites?

The first sign of spider mites on bonsai tree is graying of leaves or loss of vibrancy in the green of leaves/needles. The tree may generally look dull or not quite right and it may be difficult to figure out what is wrong with the tree at this point.

The reason the tree loses its green color intensity is because the spider mites on bonsai are feeding on the chlorophyll in the leaves. Chlorophyll is the source of green color, so if most of it is removed by spider mites, the plant will start to turn more gray and washed out.

When you first notice one of your bonsai plants going gray, it’s best to try and identify any spider mites on bonsai early, as treatment will be easier and more effective now that the infection has less time to establish itself. You can check for the presence of spider mites on bonsai using a tap test.

Yellowing is another indication of infestation spider mites on bonsai tree. Yellowing occurs as damage from spider mites. Like graying, yellowing occurs because spider mites remove chlorophyll from plant cells. As they do this to more cells in a given area, you’ll start to see yellow spots on the leaves or needles. These blocks of yellow color will continue to grow as more damage occurs to the leaves.

Loss of vigor is another sign that something is wrong with your bonsai and when combined with other symptoms can be a good indicator of spider mites on bonsai infestation. Your plant may slow down or start using less water, and if this happens, you should check for spider mites on bonsai tree.

What are signs of an advanced spider mite infestation?

A final sign of spider mites that you need to be aware of is the presence of fine webbing. This should not be confused with regular spider webs, which are very common on bonsai plants (spiders are a very positive part of your plant’s good ecosystem). Webbing from a spider mite infestation is usually a late symptom and indicates a serious infestation with a large population of spider mites. The webbing is usually found in the middle of the base of the needles or between the petioles of the leaves and is very fine.

Signs of spider mites on indoor plants

Indoor plants will show the same symptoms as outdoor plants when infected with spider mites. Symptoms include fading of leaf color, yellowing of leaves, reduced vigor and accumulation around leaves and needles in severe infections.

What are the Signs of spider mites on succulents?

Succulents and tropical bonsai such as jade show the same symptoms as other plants when they have a spider mite infestation, but because they have different growth habits than other bonsai plants, they may show slightly different symptoms.

The biggest symptom of spider mites on bonsai or succulents is white or yellow spots on the leaves. Leaves may appear this way due to localized loss of chlorophyll, which occurs because spider mites are feeding on chlorophyll in plant cells.

How to check for spider mites?

The tap test, also known as the paper smear test, is probably the most accurate and sensitive test for spider mites, assuming you don’t have a lab in your garden to analyze the needles under a microscope!

To perform a paper smear test, all you need is a piece of white paper. Holding the paper under your bonsai, tap the branches and leaves onto the paper. This will cause spider mites to fall from your bonsai onto the paper. If you have very good eyesight, you may see some mites crawling around the paper, but you may also see other beneficial critters inhabiting your bonsai.

After you tap the branches above your paper, you should wipe your hand vigorously across the paper, ‘smelling’ any spider mites there. You probably won’t be able to see or feel anything before you smear, but if there are spider mites on the paper, you’ll see red spots where they’ve been crushed by your hand.

The streaks from spider mites will be red or brown, but you may see other colors such as black, green, or yellow. These could be other pests such as aphids or beneficial predatory insects that are benefiting your bonsai.

A spider mite infestation will start in a single, localized area of ​​your bonsai. You need to make sure that you tap test all the branches of your tree, otherwise, you may miss the presence of an infection.

How to get rid of spider mites on bonsai?

Spider mites reproduce very quickly, which can make them a difficult pest to treat. Dealing with spider mites requires a consistent application over a period of time to get the best results. Hatched spider mite eggs can become resistant to certain treatments, so if we let those eggs hatch and start building up the population again, we’ll be back to square one.
You can use chemical or natural methods to deal with spider mite problems in your bonsai.

How can you get rid of spider mites naturally?

Water eradication is a superb alternative in case you identify a single tree or a small variety of trees on your collection which have slight signs of spider mite infestation. . Using water disinfection has the advantage of avoiding chemicals and miticides, which do not discriminate between good or bad organisms in your bonsai plant’s ecosystem.

Spider mites don’t cling very securely to plant material, so it’s possible to knock them off with a strong stream of water from your hose. In addition to physically removing the mites, water will make the environment less favorable for spider mite growth, as we are cooling the leaves, removing dust, and increasing the humidity levels around the bonsai plant.

The key to this strategy is consistency. Spider mite eggs will not usually be removed by hose flow, so we will need to return daily to eliminate newly hatching spider mites from your bonsai. You need to do this for at least 7-10 days to make sure that all the eggs have hatched, and that the mites are washed off the plant before they have a chance to mature and lay new eggs on their own.

If you want to try water elimination to treat a spider mite infestation, please be aware that there are some potential pitfalls if you apply this technique incorrectly. First, wetting your plant’s leaves every day can over-water your bonsai. This can lead to plant root health problems, which can be much worse than spider mite infestations. Second, keeping a plant’s leaves constantly wet can encourage the spread of fungal diseases, so if it’s already prevalent in your garden, you may want to consider a different approach.

Spider mite control with chemicals

If you cannot use water to treat your spider mite problem or if you have heavily infested plants, you may want to consider using chemicals to kill spider mites in your bonsai.

When choosing a chemical treatment, you must choose a mite specific one. Insecticides often target different types of bugs, but different organisms must be killed in different ways, so if you use chemicals that don’t specifically target mites, you’re unlikely to solve the problem and will likely cause more damage to your bonsai. Many beneficial insects inhabit the ecosystem.

Local Nursery or online stores will sell miticidal chemicals that you can use to treat your plants. Follow label recommendations for application, and if your bonsai is particularly prized, you may want to test the chemical on a different plant first.

Control spider mites with neem oil or horticultural sprays

Oil and soap can be effective in killing spider mites on bonsai plants.
Neem oil is the most popular oil used to treat spider mites on bonsai. Oils can generally kill insects by covering their breathing holes and suffocating them. Neem oil also has natural insecticidal properties that make it very effective in dealing with pests on your bonsai plants.

The downside to using oils and soaps is that they can be phytotoxic, meaning they can be harmful to plant foliage. Try your oil/soap on a cheaper or less important plant of the same species before applying it to a valuable bonsai to make sure it doesn’t cause any damage.

Buy Polysect

Many of those who have had this problem claim that several chemicals do not affect the mites. Well, this is true.

Spider mites on bonsai are hardy and can survive many chemicals.

The only chemical that will get rid of mites is Polysect. Observe the method of spraying it and its effect.

Read the label carefully as there are chemical mixing ratios for each situation.

Why do I keep getting spider mites?

Spider mites resistant to some chemical treatments are a growing problem around the world. If you treat your plants properly according to label recommendations and spider mites keep coming back, you may encounter this problem.

Insecticide resistance occurs in spider mites on bonsai when few mites survive initial treatment. They probably have a gene mutation that gives them resistance to that particular chemical. When they reproduce, all future generations will inherit that immunity.

As the cycle of treatment and survival continues, the mites become more resistant over time.

To combat this, you should consider using multiple chemicals to treat your mite infestation. Rotating using 2 or 3 different treatments, as well as a thorough water blast the day before chemical application to remove as many spider mites on bonsai as possible, can help ensure the entire colony is destroyed.


Should you cut off leaves with spider mites?

If you find leaves heavily infested with spider mites on bonsai tree, it is best to prune them, but most spider mites will be invisible to the eye and it is unlikely that you will be able to remove all the mites by pruning alone. I would recommend starting with water elimination, then moving to chemicals if necessary.

Can leaves recover from spider mites?

Leaves damaged by spider mites are not reversible. Leaves can still function to some extent, but not as much as before.

Can spider mites be found on bonsai plants?

It is very common to find spider mites on bonsai plants. They are a pest that needs to be managed every year by those living in spider mite hotspots.

Spider mite vs. soil mite

The main difference between spider mites and soil mites is where they live on the plant. Spider mites on bonsai always colonize foliage and foliage, while soil mites only live in the soil below the compost line.

Can spider mites live outside?

Spider mites live outdoors, especially in areas with dry, hot summers. They are also found inside house plants and bonsai because dry and warm conditions help them thrive.

Are spider mites harmful to humans?

Spider mites are not harmful to humans or animals. They feed only on plants, and will not harm humans.

Did the spider bite you?

Spider mites cannot bite or harm you.

Do spider mites make webs?

Spider mites create very fine webs, a feature that earned them the name spider mites. They are seen in plants with an advanced infection.

Are spider mites real spiders?

Spider mites on bonsai are not actual spiders, they are mites. They are called spider mites because of their many legs and ability to build spider-like webs.

Final Thoughts

In this article I will try to help you identify and treat spider mites on bonsai.If any question about the article comments .

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