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Redlegged earth mites

There have been reports of redlegged earth mites emerging post-diapause in some regions of Victoria and New South wales following autumn rainfall. Agronomist, Brett McEwan (Elders), reported redlegged earth mites in several paddocks around Kerang, in the Mallee district of Victoria. The mites have mostly been found in pasture; and in one case, a barley crop. Although the mites are still small (indicating they are nymphs and not adults), Brett says there is already evidence of feeding damage and that spraying may be required in some paddocks. Agronomist, David Mitchell (Landmark), reports redlegged earth mites around Crookwell and Goulburn, in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales. Mites have been observed on oats, triticale and pasture. Mark Harris (Rural Management Strategies), has also reported redlegged earth mites in canola at Lockhart, in the South West Slopes of New South Wales.

Redlegged earth mites are one of the most important establishment pests. They attack a variety of crops and pastures, including cereals, oilseeds, legumes and fodder crops. Redlegged earth mites can also survive on a variety of weeds, particularly broad-leaved weeds. For this reason, management of weeds can play an important role in reducing the build-up of mite populations within crops.

It is important to monitor mite numbers at this time of the year because emerging seedlings are particularly vulnerable to attack. Examine plants for damage and search for mites on leaves and on the soil surface. There are a variety of chemicals registered for earth mites which, if used within 2-3 weeks of emergence, can drastically reduce mite populations.

Before deciding on the most appropriate control measure, ensure the correct mite species has been identified. Problems can occur when growers use recommended pesticide rates to control a particular pest and then find that another unexpected pest is present that is not controlled by these sprays or seed dressings. For example, pesticide rates of many products used against redlegged earth mite are not effective against bryobia mites and balaustium mites (see below). Click here to view images of redlegged earth mites.

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