Mites of Azalea

Disease Information

Mites

Symptoms and damage

Spider mites are not insects but are more closely related to spiders. Mites, such as azalea mite (Eotetranychusclitus) and southern red mite (Oligonychusilicis) are a common problem on azaleas, but can also attack rhododendrons. They are very small and barely visible to the naked eye. Spider mites are typically found on the undersides of leaves although with heavy infestations they will feed on the upper surface also. Mites suck plant sap causing leaves to change from their normal green color to dull green and with a heavy infestation to a gray-green or bronze-green color. With heavy infestations, leaves may also be covered with fine webbing.

An easy way to detect spider mites is to take a white sheet of paper and wipe the undersides of several leaves. If mites are present, there will be red streaks on the paper.

Management

Natural enemies of mites, such as ladybird beetles (ladybugs), thrips and predaceous mites usually keep mite populations reduced. While pesticides are available, their misuse often makes the problem worse by killing off the mites` natural enemies. If the population level is low, early season mite infestations can often be controlled with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil sprays. Insecticidal soaps and horticultural oils offer no residual activity and help to conserve beneficial insect species.

A recommended miticide for use on azaleas is tau-fluvalinate. It is best to alternate the miticides that you use to decrease the chance of mites developing resistance. An alternate insecticide with miticidal activity is bifenthrin.

If mites have been a problem on azaleas, do not use carbaryl sprays or imidacloprid soil drenches to control other pests. Their continued use may cause a subsequent spidermite outbreak.

 



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