Southern Red Mite.
Oligonychus ilicis (McGregor), Tetranychidae, PROSTIGMATA


DESCRIPTION

Adult -The female adult is about 0.38 mm long and resembles a small spider. The abdomen is dark reddish or brown; the cephalothorax is pinkish or red. There is also a pale midstripe. The male resembles the female but is smaller (0.3 mm) and usually dark, lacking the pink or red color.

Egg -The brownish to reddish egg is depressed with a central stipe or hair (seta) (Color Plate 4BB).

Larva -The larva is nearly white with a few reddish dots.

Nymph -The nymph is similar to the adult male in color. .


BIOLOGY

Distribution -The southern red mite was first reported on hollies at Batesburg, South Carolina, in 1917. This spider mite, at times exceptionally destructive, is a common and serious pest throughout the eastern United States and in California.

Host Plants -Southern red mites seem to prefer azaleas, camellias, and hollies. These mites have also been recorded on clethra (sweet pepperbush), cleyera, elaeagnus, eucalyptus, eugenia, grevillea, hibiscus, juniper, kalmia, oxalis, photinia, pyracantha, rhododendron, rose, and viburnum. Plants in the Ericaceae and Aquifoliaceae seem to be especially susceptible.

Damage -Southern red mites feed on the lower leaf surface, causing mesophyll collapse. Infested leaves turn gray or brown and may fall from the shrub prematurely (Color Plate 4CC). If uncontrolled, southern red mites may hasten the death of a heavily infested plant.

Life History -Southern red mites pass through a larval stage and a series of nymphal stages before they mature into adults. They usually feed on the lower surfaces of woody ornamental plants. When populations are high, however, these mites will feed on the upper surfaces as well. Being "cool weather mites," they reproduce rapidly in spring and fall and become almost inactive in winter and summer. As a result, when the populations of predaceous insects and mites are active in summer, populations of southern red mites are rather insignificant. Southern red mites evidently overwinter as eggs.


CONTROL

Because southern red mites are most active in cool weather, infestations should be treated at the end of summer or winter for maximum effectiveness. Multiple foliar applications of proper miticides at 2-week intervals may be needed to obtain desired control. For specific chemical controls, see the current state extension service recommendations.

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