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So what are those red mites?

Gardening


I have had several calls about little red mites that are gathering on walls, garden furniture and other structures. People are wondering what they should spray.

At first, I thought it was clover mites, a predatory mite that tends to be more of a nuisance than anything else, but Joe Boggs, horticulture educator in Hamilton County set me straight.

The mite that we are seeing right now is also a predatory mite and is a species of red mite that feeds on pollen grains and plant material. Apparently they are showing up around the state, hanging out in various locations, including the upper level of the OSU Horseshoe Stadium, said OSU Extension entomologist Dave Shetlar.

Dave noted that they can occur at great heights on the sides of buildings. A lady that asked me about this mite lives in an upper-level apartment and found them on her walls.

This mite doesn’t have a common name, and Dave said it is one of the red mites. The difference between this mite and clover mites is that clover mites tend to show up earlier in the spring and are a little more of a greenish-red color.

Both are predatory mites and really don’t cause any issues except for the fact that they are a nuisance. Don’t sit on a bench with red mites or clover mites if you have white pants on. They will stain clothing.

Since both clover and this red mite are a predatory, controls or sprays are not recommended. Eventually they will move on to greener pastures and won’t bother you.

Another pest that has been a major problem in our area in recent years, bagworm, has hatched. Joe Boggs noted that it hatched in the Cincinnati area last week, so we should also be seeing the new larvae in the Miami Valley.

This can be a major pest of evergreens and can eventually lead to death of the plant if it’s not kept in check or controlled.

If you have had this pest in the past, you need to be inspecting plants closely and looking for the first instar (stage of development) caterpillars. The first instar is very tiny and is easily controlled by biological insecticides. When the caterpillars grow past about ¾-inch size, they need to be treated with something stronger.

The biological control that is effective is Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki or Btk. This can be found in Dipel, Thuricide, Biobit and other products.

Don’t wait until these caterpillars make their “bags” and cover their entire bodies with leaf tissue. These bags protect the insects, making it much more difficult to eliminate them with pesticides.

Bagworms are not just pests of evergreens. They have a very wide plant palate and also feed on deciduous (lose their leaves at the end of the season) trees and shrubs. I don’t usually spray the deciduous plant but rather hand pick and remove the bags — and of course, squash them.

Btk is also a biological pesticide that can be used safely in the garden for many other caterpillars as well.


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