How To Identify, Control & Prevent Red Spider Mite Or Two-Spotted Spider Mite On Tomato Plants?

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This is a complete guide to controlling and preventing red spider mites on tomato plants.

What Is Red Spider Mite, And How Does It Harms Tomato Plants?

Red spider mites, also known as two-spotted spider mites, are tomatoes’ common pests. They are tiny, about 1/50th of an inch, and reddish-orange.

They may affect the foliage of the tomato plants. Also, affect flower and fruit formation.

How To Confirm That Red Spider Mite Is Troubling Your Tomato Plants?

Examine the plants regularly. One of the features to confirm that red spider mite is troubling your tomato plants is stippled or mottled leaves with tiny white or yellow spots.

After severe infestation, the plant may appear bleached, and leaves will start falling. There may be webbing on the plants. If left untreated, the whole plant may collapse.

I came across this useful video to identify red spider mites:

Natural Ways To Control Red Spider Mite On Tomato Plants

The different natural ways, including horticultural oil, neem oil, hot pepper spray, essential oils, and diatomaceous earth powder have been successfully used to control red spider mites. You may also introduce beneficial insects for continued control.

Method 1- Apply Horticultural Oil

Horticultural oil is made from petroleum, vegetable, or neem seed oils. They can be effective against red spider mites but will have less impact on other animals and nontarget insects.

  • Dilute the horticultural oil– Dilute the horticultural oil in water according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Spray on the affected foliage– Spray the diluted spray on the affected foliage as required. You may spray directly on the adult mites, larvae, nymphs, and eggs.  Do not apply during the drought period or when the plants show moisture stress.

Method 2- Apply Neem Oil

Neem oil is a natural insecticide that has been used to control red spider mites from attacking tomato plants. It has been used as a long-lasting solution.

  • Prepare the neem oil spray– Mix two tablespoons of neem oil in a gallon of water. Shake well and add one tablespoon of emulsifier.
  • Spray on the affected foliage– Apply on the affected foliage. Avoid using concentrated neem oil as it may burn the foliage. Also, repeat application as required.

Here is a useful video on preparing neem oil spray:

Method 3- Release Beneficial Insects

Natural predators, including lacewings, ladybugs, and predatory mites can be used to control red spider mites. The predatory mites, including Phytoseiulus persimilis and Amblyseius, have been shown to be effective.

  • Purchase beneficial insects– Most spider mite predators are available in garden supply centers and online stores. Purchase and prepare them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Release beneficial insects– Release these beneficial insects near the tomato plants to control the red spider mite population.

This video explains how to control spider mites using beneficial insects:

Method 3- Sprinkle Diatomaceous Powder

The diatomaceous powder is made from fossilized remains of shell creatures. It is a naturally safe product and kills red spider mites by dehydrating them.

It also helps in controlling different fungi and bacteria.

  • Sprinkle diatomaceous powder– Wear protective masks and a dust mask while applying diatomaceous earth. Sprinkle the food-grade DE powder around the base of the tomato plants. Also, you may dust them directly on the plants.
  • Repeat application– You may need to reapply them after rain or according to the severity of the instructions.

Here is a video on using DE powder for controlling spider mites:

Method 4- Use Hot Pepper Spray

Hot pepper can repel red spider mites due to its pungency. It may help in protecting the tomato plants from spider mite attacks.

  • Prepare hot pepper spray– Combine one teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a quart of warm water. Add a few drops of liquid dish detergent. Let the solution sit overnight.
  • Strain the mixture– Strain the solution using a fine strainer.
  • Spray on the infested leaves– Apply on the bottom of the leaves. Take care to keep away from the face. Doing a patch test before applying it to whole plants is preferable.

Method 5- Spray Essential Oil Solution

Many essential oils have been shown to be effective against two-spotted spider mites. It helps in repelling pests and is not phytotoxic to tomato plants. But do not use a concentrated solution.

  • Prepare essential oil solution– Mix 10 -20ml of essential oil and make it up to one liter of warm water. You may use neem oil, eucalyptus oil, lemon oil, peppermint oil, rosemary oil, or cinnamon oil.
  • Spray on the infected plants– Spray the diluted solution on the infested plants. If you are using essential oil with a strong scent, use lower concentrations.

Physical Ways To Control Red Spider Mite On Tomato Plants

The most effective way to control red spider mites is to isolate the infested plants and remove the affected parts. Also, spray the plants with a forceful water jet to wash the spider mites.

Method 1- Spray The Plants

Spraying the plants with a garden hose will help to wash away the red spider mites. But, constantly check the plants for the reappearance of pests.

  • Spray the plants– Monitor the plants and check for infestation. Spray the plants using a high-pressure hose. It helps to dislodge the two-spotted spider mites.
  • Wash the plants– Washing the whole plants will help in removing the protective webbing.

Method 2- Prune The Infested Plant

Isolating the infested plant and pruning the infested leaves and stems helps to control the spread of spider mite infestation.

  • Isolate the affected plant– Isolate the red spider mite-infested plant to prevent the spread of infection.
  • Prune the plant– Remove the infested parts of the plants, including stems, or leaves. Throw away the infested parts. Please do not add them to the compost pile. If the plant is overly infested, remove the whole plant.

Chemical Ways To Control Red Spider Mite On Tomato Plants

There are only a few pesticides available for use in a home garden. Many gardeners have had success with spraying plants with insecticidal soaps. But, they have to be used as a last option to control red spider mites.

Method 1- Apply Insecticidal Soaps

Insecticidal soaps are commercially-available and are effective against spider mites. It is a contact-based killer. But, do not use it while using predatory insects, as it will kill them.

  • Prepare insecticidal soap spray– To a liter of water, add a tablespoon of insecticidal soap and a tablespoon of vegetable oil.
  • Spray on the infested plants– Spray completely on the affected plants. Take care to cover the undersides of the plants. Repeat the application as required.

Check out this video on using insecticidal soap to control red spider mites:

How To Prevent Red Spider Mite In Tomato Plants?

Prevention is the best option over getting rid of them. Watering the plants, regularly wiping the leaves, and maintaining high humidity will help prevent populations of red spider mites.

Method 1- Water The Plants

Water the plants regularly to reduce the chance of spider mite attack. It is recommended that tomato plants receive an inch of water every week to prevent stress. Also, mulch the plants to retain moisture.

Method 2- Dust The Plants

Dust the leaves and branches of the plant periodically to prevent spider mites. Spider mites are more prone to spider mites in dry and dusty areas.

Method 3- Practice Good Gardening Measures

Keep the area around the plants free of debris and dust. Also, after harvesting the tomatoes, clear the area and weeds. Also, till the soil to get rid of overwintering pupae.

Check out this video for more information about preventing red spider mites:

What Causes Red Spider Mite Attacks In Tomato Plants?

Red spider mites are common in hot, dry summer weather. Also, they thrive on plants under stress and in a heated greenhouse.

Under high temperatures, they may attack drought-stressed tomato plants and build colonies on the undersides of leaves.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the host plants of two-spotted spider mites?

Two-spotted red spider mites attack many plants in gardens, including, blackberry, blueberry, strawberry, cucumbers, snap beans, peas, tomatoes, marigold, salvia, viola, and rose. Also, they attack several annuals, perennials, trees, and shrubs.

Are red spider mites the same as spider mites?

Spider mites are members of the Tetranychidae family. They live on the undersides of the leaves and spin protective webs. The red spider mite (Tetranychus urticae) is the best-known member of spider mites that attacks a wide range of plants.

Why is neem oil not killing my red spider mites?

Neem oil is effective in controlling red spider mites. If it is not killing your spider mites, it may be because you are applying at an inappropriate time or not applying enough for it to show effect. Avoid spraying neem oil when the plants are water-stressed or the temperatures are over 90oF.


I hope this guide has helped you understand the different control and preventive measures to get rid of red spider mites from attacking tomato plants.

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