Clover Mites are not insects, but arthropods and are related to Spiders, Ticks and Scorpions. Normally they feed on plants outdoors, but sometimes enter homes in such numbers that they become an important pest.
Adult Mites entering buildings may reach such numbers that walls, windows or floors have a reddish appearance. The problem is usually worse when the lawns around the building are lush well watered and regularly fertilized. They can be brought in with sod, topsoil, or be present in new developments where nursery stock is being used for landscaping.
Clover Mites are not known to bite or attack stored goods, but have been reported to cause skin irritation.
Clover Mites are plump, tiny (about .75 mm in length), eight legged and, usually, dark red in color, but may vary from reddish-brown to pale orange to olive. After feeding they appear greenish-brown. They are easily distinguished from other Mites that may occur around structures by a pair of front legs that extend forward and are longer that the body and twice as long as any of the other legs.
Clover Mites feed on a wide variety of plants; over 200 species of trees, shrubs, flowers, grasses and agricultural crops – clover is not essential. They feed by puncturing plant cells and sucking juices, leaving plants with a “silver” appearance due to loss of chlorophyll. Most feeding occurs at 50-70F(10-22C). As temperature rises, Clover Mites begin foraging, some movements may bring them in contact with warmer areas inside the building. They may invade in large numbers; as many as 250,000 at one time on a bedroom floor has been reported.
No male Clover Mites have been found in North America; females can produce eggs without mating, laying up to 70 eggs. These eggs are laid in from spring to Fall with most being deposited in late summer. Eggs laid in the Fall hatch the following Spring, and are deposited in cracks and crevices of building foundations or walls, on tree bark, around debris, or rocks on the ground. Eggs may be deposited in such numbers that surfaces appear to be covered with brick dust.
Eggs hatch between 40-86F (4-30C). Optimum temperatures for hatching are 65-70F (18-22C). The Clover Mite has 5 stages of development, and the entire life span may be 1 to 7 months depending on conditions; during winter all stages may be present and may become active on warm days. The south side of a building on a sunny day may reach temperatures that stimulate activity.
Clover Mites require moist humid conditions for their life cycle, so sanitation is essential for control. Clear away all weeds and debris from buildings to reduce harborages.
If there are recurring infestations, create a physical barrier by clearing a strip of earth about 3 feet wide around the building. Zinnias, marigolds, geraniums, wallflowers, chrysanthemums, petunias, junipers, spruce and yew are disliked by Mites.Generally outdoors requires a thorough treatment, usually involving wide coverage and heavy application rates. Spray around building foundations up to first floor windows to point runoff, paying particular attention to door and window frames; applications should extend to at least 15 feet around the building.
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