One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Originally: any of various reddish mites resembling minute spiders and often causing (or presumed to cause) disease in plants or animals. Later specifically (more fully "red spider mite"): any of various sap-sucking spider mites (family Tetranychidae), which are pests causing discoloration and withering of leaves and producing fine webs on affected parts; especially Tetranychus urticae, common in glasshouses, and Panonychus ulmi, which affects fruit trees.
Mid 17th century; earliest use found in Thomas Browne (1605–1682), physician and author. From red + spider.
red spider/ˌrɛd ˈspʌɪdə/
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