This spring, as the temperatures start to rise to 70 degrees be on the lookout for clover mite damage to the lawns. Large areas of the lawn can turn brown from mite feeding and is often mistaken for winter kill.
What is a Clover Mite?
Clover mites are related to spiders and ticks. They are often found inside the house crawling around window sills and other sunny warm areas. Clover mites can be distinguished from other species of household invading mites by their reddish-green color and long front legs. CLover mite front legs are almost twice as long as the other legs and are often mistaken as antennae. The mites are approximately the size of a period and are sometimes described as “walking dust specks.” When smashed with your thumb they leave a reddish spot.
Clover mites are plant feeders, and obtain nutrients by sucking plant juices. Clover mite activity camn be diagnosed in the the lawn with a single blade of grass . Damage that resembles meandering silver streaks called stippling will be seen. A magnifying glass can help to see the tiny mites on the blade. The first areas to become infested are usually the warmer and sun exposed areas around building. Also look at tree trunks and areas of the turf that tend to dry out.
When to look for clover mites?
Clover mites begin to hatch in the spring and fall when temperatures are between 70 to 85 degrees F. They begin feeding on plant foliage after hatching. One generation will live for approximately one month and in one season there can be as many as five generations.
Control large populations of clover mites by watering the area infected. Heavy watering is detrimental to the mites. An over-the-counter insecticide labeled for mites can also be applied. It is advised to create a natural barrier around your house to prevent clover mites from entering. Plant geraniums, chrysanthemums, zinnias, marigolds, salvia, rose or shrubs such as barberry, juniper and yews which are unattractive to the mites.
If you’re not sure if you have a mite problem and need help with the diagnosis call Turf Solutions today. We are Lee’s Summit’s lawn care service experts.
This article was first published in March 2013 and updated in February 2018.