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Redlegged earth mites

We have received several reports of redlegged earth mites (Halotydeus destructor) appearing in crops and pastures after hatching from summer diapause eggs. Consultant, Matthew Sparke (Dodgshun Medlin), reports finding high numbers of redlegged earth mites in several newly sown pasture paddocks around Horsham, in the Wimmera district of Victoria. The highest numbers have been found in long-term pasture paddocks that were not treated with any insecticides last spring. Redlegged earth mites have also been reported in low-moderate numbers in various parts of the Western district of Victoria and near Wagga Wagga, in the Riverina district of New South Wales.

Redlegged earth mites are up to 1 mm in length with a globular shaped black body and red legs. They are one of the most important crop establishment pests, attacking a variety of crops and pastures, including cereals, oilseeds, legumes and fodder crops. Redlegged earth mites 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. Click here to view images of redlegged earth mites.

At this time of the year emerging seedlings are particularly vulnerable to attack from earth mites. Examine plants for damage and search for mites on leaves and on the soil surface. Before deciding on the most appropriate control measure, ensure the correct mite species has been identified. Problems can occur when growers use targeted rates of pesticides to control a particular mite pest and have then found another unexpected mite is present that is not controlled by the sprays. For example, recommended rates of many products used against redlegged earth mites are not effective against bryobia and balaustium mites.

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