Updated February 26, 2022 by Mark Marino
Dealing with bugs in your house plants is a frustrating a baffling challenge. The solution can feel so elusive: You do not want to pick the bugs out by hand, and in some cases, like with spider mites, you can’t. But neither do you want to spray down your plants with toxins in order to clean them of bugs since it would also kill them.
So, what do you do? Thankfully, people have been fighting bugs off of plants since humans first deliberately grew plants in the ground. Even in the days when no human had ever considered the chemical sciences, even when the shape of a plant cell was still unknown to humans, these things were practiced effectively.
The trick to getting spider mites off of your plants is to use methods that are not harmful, either to the plants or the spider mites. This is because the challenge is not to kill the bugs but protect the plants. As such, the best thing you can do is use certain sweet things to trick the bugs into going elsewhere.
This is not to say that you cannot kill the bugs this way. As you will see, the tricks employed here will likely result in the spider mites being trapped and dying of natural causes. But it is important to be patient and let them die of natural causes, rather than vindictively hunting the spider mites down to kill them.
Using Cinnamon To Ward Off Spider Mites
Like many other bugs, spider mites navigate by a sense that humans consider similar to their own sense of smell. Strictly speaking, it is not precisely the same sense, but it is close enough. Much of organic life has similar but different senses like this, and it really speaks to the incredible diversity of life on this planet.
The reason so many bugs navigate in this way is that it lets them know where other bugs have been. Therefore, no bug has to really think or decide for themselves in regards to where it is safe to fly and where it is unsafe. More importantly, it means they can detect food, water, and shelter with tremendous ease.
Imagine if you could always smell other humans’ breath, even up to a mile away. You would have a pretty keen idea as to what kind of food was in any given area with this ability. The downside is, if you smell a food you do not like, you might end up never going a particular direction. That is the idea behind the cinnamon solution.
Here is what you do: Start by mixing some cinnamon with some dish soap. This will create a kind of spicy gel, which you can place at the top edge and bottom edge of your houseplant’s pot. This will keep bugs from climbing up the sides, as well as keep them from trying to worm their way in from the bottom.
The mixture of dish soap to cinnamon should be three parts cinnamon and one part dish soap. The goal is to get the cinnamon to stick to the edges of the pot while still keeping the cinnamon the dominant scent.
Once you have done that, sprinkle some raw cinnamon on the dirt of your plants. This will not have any negative impact on the plants, and it will probably scare off any parasites that are currently living in the plants. The soil and the plants will eventually consume the cinnamon, so be sure to replace it every two weeks or so.
As long as you are keeping your windows closed and your plants protected, spider mites will eventually lose interest in them altogether. Spider mites do not have a good enough memory to remember that your plants tend to be covered in cinnamon, however. If you are in an environment with consistent exposure to spider mites, keep using this method.
How To Use Honey Traps Against Spider Mites Effectively
Cinnamon is a common method for dealing with bugs, but it is not the most common method. Usually people prefer to trap bugs with honey traps, which are traps that use honey to lure bugs into inescapable situations. They can be made in just a few steps using some plastic wrap, honey, and a bowl.
If you are dealing with flies, a honey trap makes sense because flies fly around (as you might have heard). Spider mites are a bit different, however. It is easier to construct a honey trap that catches flies than it is to construct the same trap that catches spider mites, as flies’ ability to fly makes it easier for them to navigate into the trap itself.
It is not that honey traps cannot work on spider mites, but simply that they will be relatively ineffective. This is especially true since spider mites usually come in larger quantities than flies, so it is possible you will need to clean the honey trap so frequently that it becomes an inconvenience.
If you wspider mite to use honeytraps, the best way to do it is by placing them where the spider mites enter and exit your home. This will require multiple traps, but it will almost ensure the spider mites will fall into them.
How Do You Make A Honey Trap?
The most common form of honey trap requires three things: A bowl, a plastic bottle (the bigger the better), and a small amount of honey. Cut the top off of the plastic bottle, to begin with, and you are ready to start.
Your goal is to tape it to the bowl in such a way that you are completely covering the bowl. The structure of your trap does not need to be that strong. It just needs to be airtight so the only pathway into and out of the bowl is the opening provided by the plastic bottle top.
Pour a good amount of honey into the bowl through the opening of the plastic bottle top. If you get any on the sides of the plastic bottle, wash it off with water and no soap. Part of the idea behind this trap is to use the scent of honey as a way to attract flies. That means cleaning chemicals will mask the smell, so avoid them.