T. urticae is extremely small, barely visible with the naked eye as reddish or greenish spots on leaves and stems; the adult females measure about 0.4 mm long. The red spider mite, which can be seen in greenhouses and tropical and temperate zones, spins a fine web on and under leaves.
T. urticae reproduces through arrhenotoky, a form of parthenogenesis in which unfertilized eggs develop into males.
The egg of T. urticae is translucent and pearl-like. It hatches into a larva, and two nymph stages follow: a protonymph, and then a deutonymph, which may display quiescent stages. The adults are typically pale green for most of the year, but later generations are red; mated females survive the winter in diapause.