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Mites

All You Need To Know About Mites

Some people call them mites, others call them spiders, but the correct form would be “spider mites”. They are not insects, but rather part of the Acari order, a sub class of the Arachnida, which also includes spiders. The main difference between them and insects is the number of legs. While insects have three pairs of legs, spider mites have four pairs.

There are more than 1,200 species out there and about 100 of them can be considered pests. The most common one is the Tetranychus urticae (the red spider mite) and they can reproduce very fast and cause a lot of damage to crops in a short period of time. They have needle-like sucking mouthparts and feed by penetrating the plant with them. Sometimes they can even cover entire plants with their webs and destroy them completely.

They are tiny creatures of less than 1/20 of an inch long. They live in colonies, and a single colony can have hundreds of individuals. Adults have an oval body and eight legs, with red eyespots on top. Females also have a large and dark blotch on each side and many bristles that cover their body. Their eggs are round and translucent and resemble tiny droplets; they become cream coloured before hatching.

Spider Mites Life Cycle

Some species feed and reproduce all year round in warm regions, while in colder regions mated females survive under rough bark scales or in ground litter or trash. Then, once the warm weather returns, they start to feed and lay their eggs.

A female can lay 10 to 20 eggs per day for up to four weeks. This doesn’t happen every day, and the total number is around 100 eggs. But even so, that’s quite a lot and these insects can multiply fast and destroy crops and gardens. The larvae hatch after 3 to 15 days and they are colourless and have red eyes. They moult 3 times during the next few days and go through different stages before finally becoming adults. Both the nymphs and the adults have 8 legs.

They can multiply very fast during the summer and if the conditions are right, a generation can be complete in less than 1 week. They like hot and dusty conditions, so you will find them quite often on trees and plants located near dusty roadways or at the margins of the garden. Once they heavily infest a plant and foliage quality declines, females will catch wind currents and move to other plants. They quickly disappear once the weather gets cold, when predators overtake them or plants become unfavourable.

Signs of Mites

The first sign consists of small white or yellow specks on the plants (mostly around the midrib and veins of the leaves). These spots can merge and grow bigger, turning large parts of the leaf into white or silver-transparent. The insects themselves are hard to spot since they are very small, but you can see them with a magnifying glass.

Damage Caused by Mites

They use their sucking mouthparts to suck the content of the plant cells, and a small number may not be harmful. But once their population gets out of hand, they can cause serious damage to plants, especially to herbaceous ones. Small light dots appear at first, and as the damage continues the leaves turn yellow or red and eventually drop off.

Besides feeding on the leaves, they also cover them with webbing, causing further damage. Fruits and twigs can also be affected by mites’ webs. The loss of leaves in fruit trees may not have an impact on the crop in the year of the infestation, but it can have an effect on the next year’s crop.

The loss of leaves does have an impact on annual crops such as melons, watermelons, squash and others. This will cause sunburning and a decrease in yield. Spider mites also cause direct damage to crops such as sugar peas and beans, by directly attacking the pods. Least but not last, they can also affect ornamental flowers if their number gets too high, including field-grown roses.

How Did I Get Mites?

This highly depends on the species. For example, clover mites will get through tiny cracks and can enter homes in huge number. Other species are attracted by well-fertilised lawns, fruit trees and gardens. Dust mites are found inside the homes, while chiggers, rodent mites and bird mites attach themselves to hosts and can then get on people and pets.

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Are Mites Dangerous?

Bites on humans are rare and usually small and not painful. They can produce just a mild skin irritation, but if this repeats multiple times it can lead to a more serious bacterial infection.

The most important health concern related to them is that the dust mites are one of the most common allergens, and can trigger asthma attacks on some people. And of course, there is also the damage caused to plants, flowers and crops. That’s why you need to take action and get rid of these creatures as soon as possible.

Get Rid of Mites Now

If you have issues with mites, then it’s time to call Safeguard Pest Control! We have extensive knowledge and experience in this field, and can provide you with professional results. We will start by inspecting your property and finding out the source of the infestation, and then come up with an action plan and get to work. You will be informed about the treatment methods and the costs so you know what to expect.

Whether you have issues with mites, rodents, lice, crickets, weevils, earwigs, wasps, moths, bees, termites, lawn grubs, geckos, fleas, mosquitoes, flies, bed bugs, silverfish, pantry pests, beetles or ticks, we are here to help! Book your Safeguard treatment now by calling 07 5477 6675 or emailing info@safeguardpestcontrol.com.au and allow us to protect your family against these annoying pests.

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