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Blue oat mites

Agronomist, Allan Edis (Landmark), has reported the presence of blue oat mites (Penthaleus sp.) around Temora, in the South West Slopes district of New South Wales. The mites have emerged in a wheat crop that is at the 3-5 leaf stage. Allan says blue oat mites have not previously been a problem in this paddock, which was also sown to wheat in 2011. With the recent cool weather and rainfall, blue oat mites will very soon be hatching from their summer diapause eggs in many other parts of southern New South Wales as well as Victoria.

It will be important to check seedling crops over the next few months for damage. Blue oat mites attack a wide variety of plant types including cereals, oilseeds and pastures. They feed by piercing plant cells and sucking out the contents, which results in silver or white patches. High mite populations can kill plants at emergence, when crops are most vulnerable to attack.

It is important to distinguish blue oat mites from other mite species, such as redlegged earth mites and bryobia mites, as this will influence control. Blue oat mites are up to 1 mm in length with a globular shaped dark body and eight red legs. Blue oat mites can be distinguished by the presence of a characteristic orange-red mark on their back.

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