Spider mites come from the family Tetranychidae and they are also classified as Arachnids, like spiders. Besides spiders, relatives to the spider mite include daddy-longlegs, ticks, and scorpions. Spider mites develop from eggs, which are found near the veins of leaves. Spider mite eggs are quite large, in fact larger than the mother is. Spider mites are usually found in dry climates because the feed more under dry conditions.
Spider mites have eight legs and an only a one part body. A spider mite alone is almost invisible to the naked eye, however they can be seen when they are in large groups. Also, when spider mites are in large groups they can cause serious damage to crops and plants.
Spider mites have a pair of needle-like structures called stylets, which are used to split and break leaf cells. Spider mites do this by pushing its mouth into the torn tissue and drawing up the sap of the cell. The marks left on the leaf by the spider mite are quite noticeable due to the brownish or yellowish color, and quite often the plant will die because of the damage caused by the spider mite.
A lot of spider mites produce their own webbing, especially when they occur in high populations. This webbing gives the mites and their eggs protection from their enemies. Spider mites webbing can be easily confused with the webbing of a spider.
Almost all spider mites prime season is during the summer and during this time they can rapidly develop, anywhere from a week or two weeks. For other species of the spider mite, the cooler seasons are their peak time. This includes the spruce spider mite and most of the mites that can damage turf grass.
In order to keep spider mites away from crops it is important to check plants regularly, as the first sign of an infestation use the lowest toxic treatment possible, and also creating a non conductive environment for pests. Spider mites, by themselves, generally do not move much farther than from leaf to leaf. However, other forces like bird feathers, animal hair, and clothes often move them.
Some of the common host crop plants by spider mites are muskmelon, cantaloupe, beans, blackberry, cucumber, melons and tomato plants. The damage on the plant leaves often looks yellowish specks, fine webs, and the plant and fruit growth is stunted. The spider mites do have a few predators, which include lady beetles, lacewings, and other mites. Spider mites do not bite human beings and are not a threat to anything other than plants and crops.
Sometimes, spider mites are also referred to as Dust Mites. We have an entire post dedicated to Dust Mites.