There are a number of different mite species that can be used to keep the spider mite population under control. These mites are also called beneficial animal and is the most effective tool against spider mites.
However, there are also other predators of spider mites - such as ticks and webwings. You can read more about all spider mite predators in this article. See also our article on spider mites here.
Spider mites (Phytoseiulus persimilis) are the primary predators of spider mites because they specialize in feeding on spider mites.
Spider mites are the preferred predators of spider mites - both in private (greenhouses, gardens, houseplants, etc.) and commercial (nurseries, plantations, agriculture, etc.) settings.
I our article on spider mites you can read about how spider mites are exposed and used against spider mites.
The tripsrovmid (Amblyseius cucumeris) and the closely related Swirskiirovmid (Amblyseius Swirskii) feed primarily on thrips and mellus - especially individuals in young life stages - but also on spider mites. However, they also eat pollen.
In practice, the thripsrovmid and swirskiirovmid can therefore be used as predators against spider mites, mellus and thrips (thunderflies).
Metaseiulus occidentalis is a mite in the same family (Phytoseiidae), such as spider mites and triprov mites, which also feed on spider mites, but also pollen and other types of food. It thrives best in hot and dry climates.
Metaseiulus occidentalis are about the same size as spider mites, but are more shiny and pear-shaped. Their color can vary from cream to amber red - depending on what they've eaten. They also lack the two characteristic spots that spider mites have. Their eggs are larger than those of spider mites.
Like other predatory mites, Metaseiulus occidentalis is more active than its prey.
The three mite species mentioned above are all members of the same family: Phytoseiidae. However, as their Latin names suggest, they each belong to a different family; Phytoseiulus, Amblyseius and Metaseiulus.
In each genus there are other mite species. In the genus Phytoseiulus For example, there are 6 species in addition to the spider mite.
How do predatory mites fight spider mites?
Spider mites are either primary or potential prey for all the predatory mites mentioned on this page. In other words, nature has evolved some predatory mite species that specialize in eating spider mites - and others that can eat them even if spider mites are not their primary prey.
When you release predatory mites on a plant, they initially eat all the spider mites. When there are no more spider mites (or other prey), the predatory mites begin to eat each other or move on in search of food. In some cases, they will simply starve to death.
However, if the spider mite infestation is very heavy, many predatory mites must be released - otherwise the control will not be successful. You can read more about releasing mites here.
Predatory mite or spider mite?
To tell the difference between predatory mites and spider mites, you need a magnifying glass - and even with a magnifying glass it can be difficult. However, there are certain points where predatory mites generally differ from spider mites:
- Mouth parts: Predatory mites' mouthparts are forward-facing, whereas spider mites' mouthparts are downward-facing.
- ActivityPredatory mites are generally more active than spider mites. In practice, they run around more and move faster than spider mites.
- Eggs: Predatory mites' eggs are generally larger than those of spider mites.
Other beneficials against spider mites
In addition to the spider mite, there are also the following beneficial insects against spider mites:
- Aphid beetles (Anthocoridae) - including the beak/orius-rove (Orius majusculus)
- Ladybugs (Coccinellidae) - including Stethorus punctillum which is a small black beetle that - like the spider mite - specializes in feeding on spider mites
- Net wings Chrysopa pearl (no Danish name, but it belongs to the family Golden eyes)
- Ant species Tapinoma melanocephalum (no Danish name, but in Swedish it is called 'mindre husmyra')
- Thrips/thunderflies (Thysanoptera)
As mentioned, in most countries the spider mite is the most commonly used predator against spider mites.