Broad mites - Lifecycle, Damage, and Identification

Broad mites - Lifecycle, Damage, and Identification

Common Name: Broad mites

Scientific Name: Polyphagotarsonemus latus

Order and Family: Trombidiformes,  Tarsonemidae

Broad mites (Polyphagotarsonemus latus) are highly polyphagous pests, infesting a wide variety of plant species. They affect over 60 plant families, making them a significant concern for many crops. Some of the most commonly affected plants include:

  1. Vegetables:

    • Peppers (Capsicum spp.)
    • Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum)
    • Cucumbers (Cucumis sativus)
    • Eggplants (Solanum melongena)
  2. Ornamental Plants:

    • Begonias (Begonia spp.)
    • Gerberas (Gerbera spp.)
    • African Violets (Saintpaulia spp.)

Broad mites can cause severe damage to these plants, leading to stunted growth, deformed leaves, and reduced yields. Their presence can significantly impact both commercial and home garden plantings, requiring careful management to mitigate their effects.

Broad mite damage can be easily confused with plant diseases or nutritional deficiencies due to the similarity in symptoms. Key signs and symptoms of broad mite infestation include:

  1. Leaf Deformation:

    • Curled, twisted, and distorted growth, particularly in young leaves.
    • Leaves may become thickened, hardened, and brittle.
  2. Discoloration:

    • Leaves may exhibit a bronze or rust coloration, often starting from the undersides.
    • Affected areas may show a stippled or speckled appearance.
  3. Flower Damage:

    • Emerging flower buds may be distorted and discolored.
    • Flowers may fail to open properly, appear misshapen, or be aborted altogether.
  4. General Plant Health:

    • Stunted growth and reduced vigor.
    • Terminal buds may die, leading to bushier, malformed plant growth.
    • The overall plant may appear unhealthy and stressed.
  5. Hidden Pests:

    • Broad mites are tiny and often require a microscope or strong magnifying glass to be seen. They usually hide in crevices and protected areas of the plant, making them difficult to detect with the naked eye.

Early detection and accurate identification are crucial for managing broad mite infestations effectively. Regular monitoring and the use of magnification tools can help in identifying these pests before they cause significant damage.

 

Identification through Eggs: Broad mite eggs are a key identifier for detecting an infestation. Here are the specific characteristics to look for:

Egg Appearance:

  • Shape and Texture: Broad mite eggs are oval-shaped with a unique feature: they are covered with white, dot-like bumps on their surface, giving them a jeweled, translucent appearance under a microscope.
  • Color: They appear clear to slightly opaque, making the white bumps stand out more prominently.

Size:

  • Dimensions: The eggs are very tiny, approximately 0.08 mm in length. Due to their minuscule size, they require a strong magnifying lens or a microscope for proper identification.

Location of Eggs:

  • Placement: Broad mites prefer to lay their eggs on the undersides of young leaves or near the growing tips of the plant. These areas provide a sheltered environment for the developing eggs and larvae.

Importance of Egg Identification:

  • Early Detection: Identifying the eggs and recognizing their distinctive texture can help confirm a broad mite infestation early on. Early detection is crucial for implementing targeted and effective control measures, preventing significant damage to the plants. 

 

 Life cycle

Adult Females:

  • Lifespan: Adult female broad mites live on average for about 13 days.
  • Reproduction: During their lifespan, females lay approximately 5 eggs. These eggs are typically deposited on the undersides of young leaves or near the growing tips of the plant.
  • Egg Appearance: The eggs are translucent with white, dot-like bumps on their surface, making them appear jeweled under a microscope.

Egg Stage:

  • Duration: The eggs hatch within 2-3 days.
  • Hatching: Upon hatching, tiny larvae emerge and begin feeding immediately.

Larval Stage:

  • Feeding: The larvae remain near where they hatched, feeding on the plant tissue.
  • Duration: This stage lasts for another 2-3 days before the larvae transition to the next stage.

Quiescent Stage:

  • Development: After the larval stage, the mites enter a quiescent (resting) stage. During this period, they do not feed and prepare for the next stage of development.

Male Behavior:

  • Leg Development: Males develop their four pairs of legs during the quiescent stage.
  • Dispersal: Once they become active again, males begin to move around and pick up female mites to disperse them to new areas of the plant. This behavior helps spread the infestation.
  • Mating: Males immediately mate with the females as soon as they emerge from the quiescent stage, ensuring rapid reproduction and continuation of the life cycle.

 

Biocontrol Predators

Using biological control agents is an effective and environmentally friendly method to manage broad mite infestations. Predatory mites SwiLiv (A. Swirskii) and CaliLiv (N.californicus) are the most effective for broad mite prevention. Adding these mites early in the season will help prevent broad mites outbreaks before they occur.

 

To learn more about how biocontrol can be im

 

 
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