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The time is right to manage redlegged earth mite out of your rotations

The Timerite® date looms for many localities and should be enacted if the mite populations warrant it

Redlegged earth mites (Halotydeus destructor - RLEM) were prevalent in many regions earlier in the year and may well now be on the increase. Early spring is the ideal time to consider potential issues for next season. For RLEM, excellent control can be achieved if they are sprayed during a short window in spring when female mites have ceased laying winter eggs (eggs that must hatch this season) and before they start laying diapause eggs (over-summering eggs that survive until next season). This approach, known as Timerite®, can significantly reduce RLEM numbers the following autumn.

The optimum ‘spring-spray’ dates for RLEM in eastern Australia are mostly between mid-September and mid-October. Location-specific dates are freely available from the Timerite® website. Some examples of the recommended dates are: Horsham - 23rd Sept, Bendigo - 28th Sept, Wagga Wagga - 29th Sept, Dubbo - 14th Oct, and Colac - 16th Oct. The date is based on geographical location and is therefore unique to each property. It is recommended that spraying be carried out within the two-week period before the optimal date.

Correct identification of mites before deciding to spray is important. Timerite® is designed to only control RLEM; it will not effectively control other pests, such as blue oat mites and lucerne flea. Before using this approach, consideration should also be given to the actual number of mites present and the susceptibility of the crop to be sown next season. Insecticides need to be used carefully to avoid resistance issues, which have already emerged in RLEM in Western Australia.

In pastures, RLEM numbers can also be reduced through careful grazing management. Field trials in Western Australia have shown that pastures grazed to 1.4t/ha FOO (Food on Offer) during spring will have significantly lower levels of mites, equivalent to numbers after spraying pastures with high FOO levels.

Click here for comprehensive information on RLEM, including their occurrence, lifecycle, behaviour and management strategies.

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