How to Manage Pests
UC Pest Management Guidelines
Adult mites are tiny (about 0.06 inch in length), have four pairs of legs, are greenish, pink, or cream colored, and have various-sized black spots on the body. Under warm conditions spider mites move rapidly within the colony area. Spider mites have four stages of development: (1) the egg; (2) a translucent, six-legged immature stage; (3) an eight-legged immature stage; and (4) the eight-legged adult stage. A generation may pass in as few as 5 to 7 days in midsummer or in a month during cool periods. Spider mites produce webbing that is often filled with cast skins, dust, and other debris.
Mite feeding results in the destruction of chlorophyll; leaves become pale, stippled and, in later stages of infestation, dry up and die. Loss of color is pronounced on the under surface of leaves before it becomes apparent on the upper side. Light infestations can be tolerated, but when heavy, can result in lowered seed yield. Examine leaf blades with a hand lens for spider mites. Frequently infestations include a mixture of spider mite species.
Biological and cultural controls frequently keep spider mites at low levels. Monitor for spider mites and predators before treating.
The western predatory mite is the same size as spider mites but lacks spots and ranges in color from cream to amber red. It is available commercially, but research has not been done on the effectiveness of releasing these predators in bermudagrass. Sixspotted thrips and western flower thrips are also effective predators, but naturally occurring populations of these insects generally do not develop to high enough levels to provide significant control before damage has already taken place. Both species are tiny, slender insects about 1 mm or less in length. Sixspotted thrips has three dark spots on each forewing; western flower thrips ranges in color from clear lemon yellow to dark brown. (Pest thrips, Chirothrips species, can be distinguished from the beneficial species of thrips by their smaller size and black color.) Monitor western predatory mites and the two species of thrips to determine if they are present in the field and to calculate their relative population density in comparison with pest mites.
Monitoring and Treatment Decisions
UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines: Bermudagrass Seed Production