While much rarer than the twospotted spider mite in North Carolina, cyclamen mites (Phytonemus pallidus) can cause significant problems in strawberries when they do occur. Adult cyclamen mites are about 0.25 mm long and require a 20X hand lens or dissecting microscope to see. As these mites thrive in humid conditions, they are predominantly a greenhouse pest. However, they can also be found in the field, usually originating from contaminated nursery stock. Adult female mites lay oblong eggs on strawberry leaves that hatch into tiny, white, six-legged larvae. Like other spider mites, they have eight legs once they reach adulthood. Adult mites are pear-shaped and a translucent, creamy orange color. The adults show sexual dimorphism (different sexes of the same organism look different). In males, the final pair of legs end in a claw like structure. In females, the final pair of legs are skinny with a long hair protruding from the tip. The entire life cycle of the cyclamen mite is less than 3 weeks so, once established, populations can build rapidly.
Cyclamen mites use their piercing-sucking mouthparts to feed on plant material. Symptoms of infestation can be found throughout the plant. Infested leaves will appear stunted and crumpled, flowers will wither, and fruit will be shrunken with protruding seeds. By the time these symptoms appear, it is too late to limit damage, so cyclamen mites must be managed with the mindset of prevention. Treatments should be applied when 1 leaf in 10 shows cyclamen mite infestation.
Cyclamen mite infestations in North Carolina are usually due to contiamination of transplants at the nursery. Transplants should be checked for cyclamen mites with a 20X hand lens or dissecting microscope before adding to them to the field or greenhouse.
Conventional miticides are available to control this pest. For commercial recommendations in North Carolina see the North Carolina Agricultural Chemicals Manual, and see the Southern Region Small Fruit Consortium Strawberry IPM Guide for regional recommendations. For control recommendations for areas outside of the southeast, please check with your local extension agent.
Releases of the predatory mite Neoseiulus californicus have been shown to be effective in controlling cyclamen mites in other states. However, these predatory mites have not been tested for cyclamen mite control in North Carolina.
Publication date: May 15, 2014
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