Skip to main content

What are those tiny red bugs in your garden, and what should you do about them?

Getting rid of tiny red bugs from your garden

No matter what plants you grow, your garden is going to attract a few bugs. Some of those insects are beneficial to your garden, like pollinators, but some of them can hurt your plants. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to tell if an insect is one you should worry about, especially if the insects are small. If you need help identifying tiny red bugs in your garden, here’s a simple guide for you.




1 hour

What You Need

  • Pyrid spray

  • Diluted boric acid

  • Cloth

  • Permethrin spray

  • Insecticidal soap

Spider mites on a plant close up

Identifying the red bugs

There are two main types of tiny red bugs commonly seen in gardens: clover mites and spider mites. Although they are both tiny red bugs, it's fairly easy to tell them apart.

Clover mites

These are larger than spider mites, and they are most commonly seen in mild or cool weather. They are a rusty red color, and can appear slightly brownish in some lighting conditions. Clover mites primarily feed on grass and don’t often bother other plants. The damage caused by clover mites is minimal, and often the only sign that they’ve fed on your plants is silvery discoloration on the leaves.

Spider mites

These tiny red bugs are much smaller than clover mites, making them difficult to see, and they prefer warm weather. Additionally, spider mites are not always red. They can also be yellow, brown, and even green. Despite being much smaller, spider mites are more harmful to your garden, as they prefer other plants over grass. They leave small white marks on the leaves, and the damage can cause leaves to droop or die. Some plants may also grow stunted or misshapen leaves or flowers. Additionally, spider mites can be identified by the small webs they build.

Close-up of a red spider mite
Egor Kamelev/Pexels

Treating clover mites

In most cases, clover mites don’t require any treatment. The harm they cause is minimal and often unnoticeable. However, if you’re seeing a severe infestation, here is how to get rid of them:

Step 1: Apply Pyrid spray to the affected area.

Step 2: Use a forceful spray of water to wash them away.

Step 3: Apply diluted boric acid to the affected area.

Boric acid can harm plants when used in large amounts, so be careful when using it in and around your garden.

Spider mites on a tomato leaf
Catherine Eckert/Shutterstock

Treating spider mites

If you see spider mites in your garden, here's how to treat them:

Step 1: Wipe the plants with a cloth, removing any spider mites or webs you can see.

Step 2: Apply permethrin spray or an insecticidal soap to your plants.

You can even make your own insecticidal soap at home.

Step 3: Attract ladybugs to your garden.

Ladybugs are a natural predator of spider mites, so having them around will keep the population of spider mites low.

If the tiny red bugs in your garden are clover mites, then you can breathe a sigh of relief. They’re unlikely to seriously harm your plants and are more of a nuisance than a true garden pest. However, if you’re dealing with spider mites, you should act quickly to get rid of them before they damage your garden.

Editors' Recommendations

Cayla Leonard
Cayla Leonard is a writer from North Carolina who is passionate about plants.  She enjoys reading and writing fiction and…
The best sprays to keep pests off your delicate hibiscus plants
Safe and effective sprays for your hibiscus
Close-up of a red hibiscus flower

Garden pests range from minor annoyances to plant-destroying nightmares, but controlling them can be tricky. While commercial sprays are effective and easy to find, many of them include harsh chemicals that are not good for the environment. On top of that, some plants are too sensitive for sprays like that! Hibiscus plants in particular can suffer cosmetic damage from certain chemical sprays. If you need help keeping pests away from your hibiscus, here’s what you need to know about finding the right insecticide for hibiscus plants.

Why are specialized sprays so important?
Insecticide or pesticide sprays have a job to do. They’re made specifically to kill insects and keep them away from your plants. Most plants can withstand the chemicals used in these sprays without issue, but some plants, like hibiscus, are particularly sensitive.

Read more
Can you use garlic as a pesticide? What you need to know
Find out if this tasty kitchen staple can actually fight off pests
Garlic bulbs and cloves

Gardening is one of the best ways to beat stress and get in touch with nature. The problem is that cultivating plants sometimes leads to different kinds of stress: pests. When it comes to effective pest removal, gardeners have plenty of options at their disposal, from simply letting nature run its course to introducing predatory species that can help reduce pest pressure. Many choose to apply insecticides and pesticides, either organic or more heavy-duty chemical solutions. When pest pressure is highest, spraying may be the only option to save the plant. Here's a more unconventional hack: using garlic as a pesticide.

Spraying for bugs doesn’t have to mean handling toxic chemicals. Natural products, such as garlic essential oil, can be helpful tools for dealing with pest pressure in a nontoxic way. If spraying plants with plant juice to save them from hungry bugs sounds like a questionable practice, keep reading. We’ll explore the effectiveness of garlic insecticide and identify what pests garlic spray might help keep away.

Read more
Everything you need to know about how to get rid of ants in the garden
Natural ways to send those ants marching one by one away from your space
A small red ant

Ants are among the most (if not the most) common pests known by homeowners, lawn care experts, and gardeners. You sit down to a nice relaxing evening on the patio with your favorite snacks, and then here come the ants to investigate. They build their hills, swarm around the yard, and cause trouble when they find their way through cracks in your home’s foundation and into the kitchen.

So naturally, it may be concerning when you see an anthill forming in your garden. The strange thing about ants, though, is that they aren’t bad all the time. Before we go over natural pest control remedies and how to get rid of ants in the garden, here are some things to consider.

Read more