HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- It's amazing how such a small pest can inflict such severe damage to many plants in our region. The pest I'm referring to is the eight legged mites and more specifically eight legged spider mites. Insects have six legs, where mites along with their cousin the spider have eight legs.
Some mites are large enough to see where others take a magnifying glass to see these plant sucking pests. That's just how they inflect their damage to plants. They take their mouth parts and penetrate the leaf slurping up the valuable water and nutrients in leaves.
If you have the right plant and thousands of these spider mites, they can render a plant helpless and if serious enough can do in your most precious landscape plants. The plants they love in our area are the ornamental spruce, hemlock, and blue spruce. Sometimes they go as far as laying eggs in pin oak leaves where the irritated leaf part develops gulls and then you have all these hard knots so to speak falling out of your trees this summer.
If you can't see these tiny pests and you suspect their presence in your trees and shrubs, take the white paper test. Place a sheet of white paper under a suspected branch and shake that branch over the paper. When you rub your hand over the paper you can see where you have squashed the mite if they are visiting your plant.
Most of the time the leaves or needles take on a whitish cast like it was coated with flour. If the plant is small enough and you want to go non chemical, use a leaf blower or even a strong spray of water to knock the spider mites off the plant. For chemical control, the best is products like Malathion. Good luck and make sure to control them early enough before they do severe damage.