Let the cold winds blow. Now that we’ve moved our houseplants safely inside from their summer “bootcamp” outside, we can relax. Not so fast.

Your cozy, warm home is providing the perfect environment for spider mites to emerge and grow on those houseplants, and now is the time to ward off any invasions. Spider mites (Tetranychus urticae) are tiny insects and often are difficult to see or even identify. There are a number of types of these sucking insects, with body colors ranging from brown, to yellow or greed, even red. Often the damage they do is spotted long before we realize they are present. And they multiply rapidly.

One of the first indicators of the presence of spider mites will be foliage that turns yellow and leaves begin to drop off. Eventually plants are increasingly weakened and in time will die if there is no intervention. Starting now, check plants regularly, even twice a week for the presence of spider mites. A good indicator that spider mites are present is fine webbing, often on the undersides of leaves and at branching points. Time to spring into action if these are discovered.

Your best defense against spider mites is to inspect plants before purchasing or when bringing them indoors for the winter. If you are introducing new houseplants to your collection now, it is a good idea to keep them well away from existing plants for several weeks or a month to be certain they are not brining in spider mites or other insects or diseases.

Keeping plants fertilized and watered during their growing season will also help prevent infestations on plants that are healthier. Now that your plants are indoors for the winter, this dormant season will mean less water and holding off on fertilizing until they start growing in ernest next spring. Dry indoor air can be countered with saucers or pebble-filled trays of water near plants. Do not let plants sit in water for long periods of time.

Or use a spray bottle to regularly mist plants. A humidifier can also be employed. Remember that unless they are desert dwellers like cactus, plants prefer a humid environment and that certainly applies to most houseplants.

If spider mites have been identified, your kitchen sink spray nozzle is your first line of defense. Use the fine spray to dislodge and wash away the mites and their webbing. Concentrate on the undersides of foliage. Most houseplants will benefit from the treatment of tepid water, but do not use this technique on African violets however.

Let foliage air dry. An application of insecticidal soap (mild liquid soap such as Castile or Ivory. Mix one tablespoon to one quart of water, and apply with a spray bottle) will help prevent the emergence of any mites your water spray treatment might have missed. Other home remedies include garlic, pepper (capsaicin), peppermint or rosemary or neem oil mixed according to directions.

When we take into account that any plant, no matter how rare or exotic, is actually native to someplace on this earth, we acquire a special knowledge. When we can identify that place — be it in the shade of a jungle or a sun-drenched patch of scorched desert — we have an idea of its ideal habitat. When it comes to growing houseplants, all we have to do is to try to replicate that environment of that particular plant for success.

Lynette L. Walther is the GardenComm Gold medal winner for writing and a five-time recipient of the GardenComm Silver Medal of Achievement and the National Garden Bureau’s Exemplary Journalism Award. Her gardens are in Camden.