How to identify tyrophagus pest species and their symptoms on host plants and gain an appreciation of pest biology to aid in the development of effective control strategies.
Identification and symptoms
Tyrophagus mites such as Tyrophagus longior, T. putrescentiae and T. weiswanderi can give rise to feeding damage on plants. The appearance of these various species of mite is very similar; they are all small, cream-coloured, slow-moving mites with conspicuous long hairs, particularly at the rear of the body. This pest was once common on cucumbers grown on straw bales and was known as ‘French fly’.
Tyrophagus mites can occasionally cause plant damage when they feed inside the growing points, flower buds and young leaves of plants, piercing the leaf tissue with their mouth parts. Later, as the leaves expand, small holes or irregular cavities appear, and the damage often goes unrecognised or is attributed to other factors. The presence of such mites can be established by tapping plants out over a sheet of white card or examining the growing points of plants under a microscope.
Tyrophagus mites occur naturally in the soil, where they feed on rotting plant matter, and often occur in the growing media of container-grown plants. Under normal conditions, they cause no problems, but if conditions are favourable (especially under high humidity levels and in the presence of highly organic material), they can increase in number and cause plant damage.
Tyrophagus mites can be a pest of Begonia, Cyclamen, Delphinium, Gerbera, Lavatera, Kalanchoe and Verbena.
Authors – Elysia Bartel and Jude Bennison, ADAS Horticulture.
Original author (08/05 ‘The biology and control of two-spotted spider mite in nursery stock’ and 12/09 ‘The biology and control of mites in pot and bedding plants’) – John Buxton, ADAS.
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Web page content correct as of June 2021.