The Problem

Mites

Family: Tetranychus urticae

What are Mites?

Mites are small eight legged insects which suck out the contents of plant cells and cause damage. There are many different types but most are less than 1mm in size making them very difficult to see.

Mites tend to live on the underside of leaves and as they feed on the foliage, you will see that it begins to lose its greenness in small irregular patches. As mite numbers grow the speckling on the leaves becomes more pronounced until leaves look bronzed, silvery or grey.

Mites will also feed on young shoots and fruits causing damage which is only apparent when the growth/fruit gets larger. Fine spider webbing is also noticeable when mite numbers are large (mites are in the spider family).

Plants Attacked

Broad range including roses, azaleas, camellias, beans, cyclamen, figs, orchids, gerberas and more..

What are the symptoms?

If you are seeing signs of curled, yellow leaves, tiny webs or just sickly plants, you might have a nearly invisible foe. Mites are hard to see with the naked eye, but their presence can be monitored by sticky cards or even just shaking the plant over a piece of white paper.

Lifecycle

You will find most mite species overwinter as eggs on the leaves and bark of host plants. As temperatures warm, tiny six-legged larvae begin hatching and feed for a few days before seeking shelter where they molt into the first nymphal stage. Nymphs have eight-legs and pass through two more molts before becoming mature adults.

After mating, females continuously produce as many as 300 eggs over a couple of weeks. Hot, dry weather favors rapid development of these pests. During such conditions the time it takes to pass from egg to adult may occur in as little as 5 days. There are several overlapping generations per year.

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