Your azaleas are some of your most prized landscape features. Every year, they brighten up your yard with vivid colors and fill your outdoor paradise with their delightful aroma.
The flowers of your azalea plants look lovely, but the leaves - not so much. They have strange, tiny dots on them. Wondering what's wrong with your azalea leaves? Keep reading.
What Does Spider Mite Damage Look Like?
A number of pests like to suck the juices out of foliage, leaving pale green (or even yellowish or reddish) spots behind. While the offenders could be lace bugs, we're talking about spider mites this time around.
Spider mites are tiny arachnids that infest trees and shrubs, like azaleas. They're hard to see with the naked eye, but you can tell they're on your plants by looking for stippling - those itty-bitty spots on your azalea leaves that we mentioned earlier.
Warm season spider mites are typically most active in May through September. If you think there may be spider mites on your trees or shrubs, here's an easy way to check (other than looking for stippling):
- Find a white sheet of paper and hold it under a branch.
- Give the branch a good tap.
- Check the sheet of paper for crawling red or brown specks.
How to Treat Spider Mites
Lucky for you and your plant life, spider mites don't do too much harm when their numbers are low. So how can you get rid of those pesky spider mites and own the most beautiful azaleas on the block? DIY spider mite control is easier than you think!
Mites are drawn to stressed plants, so making sure your plants are healthy and thriving is one thing you can do to keep populations low. Keep your plants watered and ensure they're getting enough light. And don't over or under fertilize.
Good ol' water can also do the trick. Spray your plants with a steady stream twice a week to knock those mites right off.
You can also just sit back and let nature take its course. Spider mites have plenty of natural enemies - black lady beetles, lacewing larvae, and minute pirate bugs, to name a few. Skip the pesticides and let those predators do their thing.
When to Call the Professionals to Get Rid of Spider Mites
OK, your plants look really bad. Your spider mite infestation is particularly heavy. And you just want your azaleas to look their best, is that so bad? Not in our book! We can treat your trees and shrubs for spider mites using miticides.
For more immediate results, we may go with a foliar miticide. That way, the treatment will come in direct contact with the spider mites and kill them off quickly.
In some instances, a slower acting but longer lasting approach might be better. In those cases, we'll apply the miticide using soil-injection. The plant's roots will take up the treatment and distribute it throughout its tissues. The spider mites will then die after they feed on the foliage.
Interested in learning about some other pests you might catch on your trees and shrubs during the summertime? Our Summer Tree and Pest Manual is for you!