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Blue oat mites

Agronomist, Mick Duncan (Northern Agriculture P/L), has reported blue oat mites (Penthaleus spp.) causing problems to newly sown pasture seedlings in a wide range of locations in the Northern tablelands of New South Wales. In many paddocks, spraying has been necessary to protect emerging pasture plants. Consultant, Matt Shephard (IMAG Consulting), reports that blue oat mites have been found attacking a canola crop north of Parkes, in the Central West Slopes and Plains district of New South Wales. Blue oat mite numbers have also built up in many districts in Victoria, including the Northern Country, Western district and the Wimmera.

Blue oat mites are active in the cool wet part of the year, usually between April and late October. During this time they pass through two or three generations, with each generation lasting eight to ten weeks. Blue oat mites are major agricultural pests of southern Australia, attacking various pasture, vegetable and crop plants. Adult blue oat mites are 1 mm in length and have 8 red-orange legs. They have a blue-black coloured body with a characteristic red mark on their back. Click here for images of blue oat mites.

Blue oat mites are the most abundant earth mites in many cropping and pastoral areas of Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales. They are often mistaken for redlegged earth mites due to their similar appearance and sympatric lifecycle. However, blue oat mites and the redlegged earth mite differ markedly in their biology and tolerance to pesticides, and require separate management strategies.

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