All species of Aloes are easy to grow and care for, and to raise an Aloe plant you only need sun and a little bit of water. But, unfortunately, the Aloe has a natural enemy that cannot be seen with the naked eye and sadly, the ugly trail of destruction is hard to miss. The Aloe Mite.

Aloe mite

This enemy is the eriohyid mite (Aceria aloinis) that goes by many different names like Aloe mite, Aloe cancer, Aloe wart, Aloe gall or Witch’s Broom. As the many names suggest, the effect of these mites on the plant is not pretty and causes tumour-like growths. Mites are arachnids, which makes them related to spiders, but this is where the resemblance stops. Spiders usually have 8 legs and are fast movers, but this mite only has 4 legs, is worm-like, and is slow. They inject a chemical into the plant that causes these cancerous growths that we call gall, wart or cancer. 


Unfortunately, the only way to tell if a plant is infected is to see the abnormal tissue growth. The Aloe mites are attracted to rapidly growing tissues, and that is why the first sign of this mite is new inflorescence that emerges from the plants all crooked and bent. Abnormal, distorted growth tends to form more at the leaf centre of the leaf rosettes, makes a bubbly fringe on older leaves edges, and green-orange growths at the base of leaves.


Killing the mites is easy, but the problem is getting to the mite underneath the cancerous growth where they are protected against pesticides. The Aloe mite infection is controlled by carving these galls off the Aloe with a sharp knife. The infected tissue must be immediately thrown in the trash (NOT on the compost heap) or burned. Cover the cuts with cinnamon as that will help heal the wound. Blue Death Powder can also be applied by painting it with a small brush onto the fresh wound. BUT please remember that this is toxic to humans and animals!!!! Keep on looking for any new deformities. Clean the knife between every cut with bleach as the mite can be spread from one leaf or plant to another. Also, clean your hands afterwards as it also can be spread by handling uninfected plants thereafter.

Aloe mites are also easily spread by wind. If the infestation is severe, dispose of the entire plant because it is a breeding ground.


When buying new Aloe plants, always look for uninfected plants, or buy an Aloe that is naturally resistant to Aloe mite like Aloe suprafoliata. Check plants often for early signs of deformation, saving your plant and your garden. If you are an Aloe collector or have a rare and valuable specimen, visit your nursery for preventive miticide that has to be applied before infestation.

Treating Aloe mite can be labour intensive. You need to identify it early and do something about the cancerous growth. Remember, even if you don’t mind the growth on your Aloes it is best to remove it as it will spread to your other Aloes.

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