MITE DAMAGE ON LAWNS
Lawn Mites a.k.a. Clover Mites, Grass Mites, or Spider Mites
Lawn mites are very small insects that are almost impossible to see with the naked eye. During dry periods, particularly when mites are found indoors, they are a brick-red color. Spider mites feed on grass roots and blades with their rasping-sucking mouth parts and can damage the grass often to the point of death.
In the Boulder and Fort Collins area lawn mites are usually found on the south facing sides of buildings, rock beds, sun exposed slopes and pine trees. The mites often feed on the grass from November to March during warm and dry weather and take shelter in pine trees and buildings during cold and wet weather.
What Time of Year Do Lawn Mites Damage Grass?
Mites tend to do the most damage to grass on south facing slopes between the months of December and March often with the peak damage occurring during February and March. Typically, the damage to the lawn is not discovered until after the lawn begins to green-up in the spring. The homeowner will notice that only part of the lawn greened up and there may be small sections or large areas that were killed over the winter months.
The grass in this Boulder area lawn was damaged from spider mites. They feed on the grass during dry periods and take shelter in the tree during wet weather.
Organic Method to Kill Spider Mites
Did You Know that Lawn Mites Hate Water?
Did you Know? Spider mites do not like water and a great way to prevent spider mite damage, is to water the lawn during prolonged periods of drought stress. That is right, spider mite populations can be managed by watering the lawn.
During the winter months are when lawn mites are most active. Typically, during this time of year, the sprinkler system has been turned off and the only way to water the lawn is via a hose and sprinkler head. It is important to water the south facing aspects of a lawn during prolonged warm and dry periods during the winter months. Watering the lawn is one of the most effective methods in preventing spider mite damage to lawns.
How to Tell if a Lawn Has Mites?
Monitoring the mite populations in a lawn is fairly simple. Start by taking a white piece of paper and scraping some grass from a potentially susceptible area onto the paper. Stare at the tiny dots on the paper, and if they move, there are mites. If you believe you are susceptible to spider mite damage and think you need a spider mite lawn treatment you can call our office and ask to be put on our special contact list. If you register for our contact list, we will notify you during periods when grass mites might be active.
During the spider mite season, we closely monitor the mite populations in Colorado and when activity begins, we contact the customers as a reminder to check the lawn for mite activity.
What does Spider Mite Damage in a Lawn Look Like?
Mite damage to lawns tends to be noticed after the lawn has greened up in the spring. Small sections or large areas of the lawn will cease to turn green. The injured or dead turf is noticeable long after the mites have ceased feeding in the grass and it is too late to control them.
Turf that has been damaged by mites appears in irregularly-shaped straw-colored patches while the rest of the lawn turns green. Damage occurs most often on south or southwest facing aspects of a lawn. Severe damage can occur if the turf is sloped and if the grass roots are shallow due to improper lawn watering practices during the summer months. Lawns that are being watered according to the 1-2-3-2-1 lawn watering technique are 90% less likely to suffer from mite damage compared to lawns that are watered daily.
Clover mite damage tends to occurs within 5-10 feet of a building, fence, tree or other vertical structure. Mites are extremely small and hide in the turf when disturbed, making them very difficult to see.
Click on Grass Mite Photos to Enlarge
Natural Spider Mite Treatment
Ecotrol – Organic Insecticide
Organo-Lawn’s special application of an organic insecticide called Ecotrol is the safest and best treatment for spider mites. Ecotrol is an EPA 25b exempt pesticide and is an OMRI approved organic mite control. Ecotrol is comprised of Rosemary Oil (10%), Peppermint Oil (2%) and Other Ingredients including Wintergreen Oil, Vanillin, Lecithin, and Butyl Lactate (88%). These horticultural oils penetrate the soft bodies of the mites destroying their protective exoskeleton.
The organic miticide treatment must be performed while the insect is active. The treatment kills the active mite population by up to 85% per application. Organo-Lawn recommends 1-3 applications of Ecotrol in severe cases to completely kill the mite populations in the grassy areas. The recommended applications depend on the weather conditions of the year. If the winter weather is stormy, cold and snowy then fewer applications will be necessary.