Spider mites

Proliferating in warm dry conditions, these tiny mites – including two-spotted and carmine spider mite - are found worldwide in a wide range of crops.

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  • Tiny red-coloured adult mites found on several crops, most common species two-spotted mite (Tetranychus urticae) and carmine spider mite (Tetranychus cinnabrinus)
  • First populations appear in warm, dry areas of the crop
  • Small spherical white eggs (0.1mm) are laid at the bottom of the leaf
  • Tiny colourless larvae have 6 legs
  • Green nymphs have 2 body spots and 8 legs
  • Oval shaped adults (0.5mm) - yellow-brown to red-brown, depending on crop
  • Challenging to control – hibernating females turn orange-red and hide in the greenhouse, reappearing early the next season

Life cycle

  • Adult females start egg laying within 0.5 to 3 days of hatching
  • Eggs laid for 10 days at 35 °C/95 °F - up to 40 days at 15 °C/59 °F
  • Reproduces faster during warm dry weather - lays around 100 eggs under optimal conditions
  • Five development stages - egg, larva, 2 nymphal stages and adult
  • Rapid population growth and dispersion - egg to adult takes about 7 days at 30 °C/86 °F, 17 days at 20 °C/68 °F and 36 days at 15 °C/59 °F.
  • Fertilised females enter diapause in autumn - when temperature and photoperiod drop

Damage caused

  • All mobile stages feed on plant sap
  • Yellow dots on leaf and fruit surface - as empty plant cells turn yellow
  • Physiological imbalances impacting plant growth – reduced photosynthetic area
  • Necrosis – leaves turn yellow and plant can wilt or die
  • High populations can cause webs at top of the plant – reduces aesthetic value of ornamentals. Webbing can make it difficult for some predators to get to the spider mites


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