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The common red spider (Tetranychus telarius) is a mite which feeds on various weeds, garden and field crops, bananas, shrubs and pome and stone fruit trees. Beans and strawberries may be heavily infested and during dry weather rockmelons and cucumbers may be seriously injured. Garden plants which may be extensively damaged are roses, violets, dahlias, hydrangeas, etc. Fruit trees are not normally infested.
Red spiders are so small that a magnifying glass is necessary to see them plainly. They occur on the undersides of the leaves, where they lay their minute spherical eggs and spin delicate webs. The eggs hatch in a few clays into six-legged larvae which in turn give rise to eight-legged nymphs. Adult males and females then appear and give rise to further generations, each of which may require as little as nine to eleven days.
Hot dry weather favours red spider activity and most damage is caused naturally during the warmer months. The winter is usually passed in the adult stage.
The red spiders suck the sap from the leaves causing a mottled appearance due to innumerable feeding punctures, and in severe infestations the leaves may turn yellow and fall prematurely.