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Beneficial velvet mites

Agronomist, Chris Baker (AGnVET Services), has reported finding large, bright red coloured mites in a canola crop (2-leaf stage) northeast of Parkes, in the Central West Slopes and Plains district of New South Wales. The mites have been identified as predatory ‘velvet mites’, belonging to the Trombidiidae or Erythraeidae families. Beneficial velvet mites were also recently observed by researcher, Sommer Jenkins (cesar), in an emerging canola crop south of Ararat, in the Western district of Victoria.

Almost all mites in the Trombidiidae and Erythraeidae families are predatory; as adults they are generally free-living active predators on a range of invertebrates, whereas the nymphs of many species are parasitic on insects. Balaustium mites (Balaustium medicagoense) from the Erythraeidae family are one exception to this; they are an emerging pest of several agricultural crops (including canola). Trombidiidae and Erythraeidae mites are typically bright red to brown in colour, and some species can be quite large. Their body is covered in many short stout hairs, giving them a ‘velvety’ appearance, which is particularly evident when viewed under a hand lens or microscope.

Click here for images of predatory Trombidiidae mites and click here for images of balaustium mites.

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