Southern Red Mite
Southern red mite (Oligonychusilicis) is an important pest of
hollies, especially I. crenata`Convexa`, a Japanese
holly. Mites are not insects, but are more closely related to spiders. Southern
red mite adults are reddish brown and less than 1 /50-inch long. Using sucking
mouthparts, they feed on the undersides of leaves, where fine webbing is often
seen. Symptoms of feeding include light yellow speckling on leaves. Leaves may
turn a bronze color and then drop. With severe infestations, webs may cover
both leaf surfaces and branch tips. Populations of southern red mites usually
peak in spring and fall. They are almost inactive during the heat of midsummer.
Check for mites by looking at the undersurface of leaves in early spring or by
shaking a branch over white paper.
Naturally occurring predators of mites include various predatory
mites, ladybird beetles and other insects. Mites can be removed with a strong
spray of water, if applied on a regular basis. Insecticidal soap sprays can
provide control when applied before population numbers get too high. The
following pesticides are labeled for use by homeowners against southern red
mite: horticultural oil, bifenthrin, and acephate. These products should be applied
when mites are present and again in seven to 10 days. Horticulture oil may be
sprayed when temperatures are between 45 and 90 degrees. As with all
pesticides, read and follow all label instructions and precautions.
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