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Citrus Rust Mite Control: Learn How To Kill Citrus Rust Mites

Citrus Rust Mite Control: Learn How To Kill Citrus Rust Mites


By: Liz Baessler

Citrus rust mites are pests that affect a variety of citrus trees. Because of this, control is really only a necessity if you are looking to sell your fruit. Keep reading to learn more about managing citrus rust mites in your backyard or orchard.

Citrus Rust Mite Info

What are citrus rust mites? The citrus rust mite (Phyllocoptruta oleivora) is a pest that feeds on citrus fruit, leaves and stems. On oranges, it is commonly known as rust mite, while on lemons, it is called silver mite. Another species, called the pink rust mite (Aculops pelekassi) is also known to cause problems. The mites are too small to see with the naked eye, but with a magnifying glass, they can be seen as pink or yellow in color and wedge shaped.

Mite populations can explode quickly, with a new generation appearing every one to two weeks at the height of growth. This usually occurs in midsummer. In the spring, the population will exist mostly on new leaf growth, but by summer and into autumn, it will have moved to the fruit.

Fruit that is fed on early in the season will develop a rough but light-colored texture known as “sharkskin.” Fruit that is fed on in summer or fall will be smooth but dark brown, a phenomenon called “bronzing.” While citrus rust mites can cause stunted growth and some fruit drop, the damage done to the fruit is basically cosmetic – the flesh inside will be untouched and edible. It is only a problem if you’re looking to sell your fruit commercially.

How to Kill Citrus Rust Mites

The damage caused by citrus rust mites is mostly cosmetic, so if you aren’t planning to sell your fruit, citrus rust mite control isn’t really necessary. It is, however, possible to control populations with miticides.

An easier, more practical solution, is canopy density. Mite populations are less likely to explode under a thick canopy of leaves, so judicious pruning may help to lessen their numbers.

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Read more about Citrus Trees


Orange Tree Mites

Related Articles

It is cause for alarm when pests threaten your orange tree's (Citrus sinensis) vigor, appearance or yield. Mites, eight-legged relatives of ticks and spiders, are potentially responsible for discolored or deformed orange tree fruit or foliage. Multiple species of mites may feed on orange trees, which grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 to 11. Identifying the exact type of mite will guide your treatment decisions.


Management

In the San Joaquin Valley watch for Texas citrus mite in fall on early harvested navels or in spring following applications of broad-spectrum insecticides. Apply a pesticide if small amounts of defoliation begin to occur in the outer canopy at the top of trees and cold, wet weather is not anticipated for a period of weeks. Miticides are very effective against Texas citrus mite.

Biological Control

Texas citrus mite is naturally controlled by predators of other mites such as the sixspotted thrips (Scolothrips sexmaculatus), the spider mite destroyer (Stethorus picipes), minute pirate bugs (Orius spp.) and a predatory mite, (Euseius tularensis).

Cultural Control

Adequate irrigation and dust control will reduce the damage caused by Texas citrus mite.

Organically Acceptable Methods

Use cultural and biological controls and certain petroleum oil sprays on organically managed citrus.

Monitoring and Treatment Decisions

In the San Joaquin Valley, check for Texas citrus mite during spring if broad-spectrum insecticides such as formetanate hydrochloride (Carzol) have been used. Apply a pesticide if significant amounts of leaf drop occur.

In fall look for Texas citrus mite from September through December on trees that bear early harvested fruit, especially navels. Apply a pesticide if leaves in the outer canopy at the tops of trees begin to defoliate, and cold weather is not anticipated for a period of several weeks. Pesticides are not needed if defoliation is limited to the leaves on the extremities of the fall flush that will naturally freeze or be pruned off during winter.

No official treatment thresholds exist. Texas citrus mite is highly susceptible to all miticides labeled for control of citrus red mite and can be controlled with relatively low volumes of water because of its tendency to be located on newer leaves in the outer tree canopy.

Common name Amount to use REI‡ PHI‡
(Example trade name) (type of coverage)** (hours) (days)
Pesticide precautions Protect water Calculate VOCs Protect bees
Not all registered pesticides are listed. The following are ranked with the pesticides having the greatest IPM value listed first—the most effective and least harmful to natural enemies, honey bees, and the environment are at the top of the table. When choosing a pesticide, consider information relating to air and water quality, resistance management, and the pesticide's properties and application timing. Always read the label of the product being used.
A. NARROW RANGE OIL (92%UR)
(415, 440) 1.2–1.4% (OC) See label When dry
. . . or . . .
NARROW RANGE OIL (99% UR)
(415, 435, 440, 455) 1.2–1.4% (OC) See label When dry
RANGE OF ACTIVITY: Pests: broad (unprotected stages of insects and mites) Natural enemies: most
PERSISTENCE: Pests: short Natural enemies: short
MODE OF ACTION: Contact including smothering and barrier effects.
COMMENTS: Use highest rate for July or August applications. Narrow range 440 (or higher) spray oil is preferable in the Central Valley during warmer months because of greater persistence, but risk of phytotoxicity increases unless using products with 99% unsulfonated residues (UR). Low-volume may be preferable. Caution: Serious hazards are associated with oil sprays to green lemons because of phytotoxicity after sweating check label for preharvest interval.
. . . or . . .
NARROW RANGE OIL (92 or 99% UR)
(415) 6–20 gal/acre (LV) See label When dry
RANGE OF ACTIVITY: Pests: narrow (citrus red mite) Natural enemies: predatory mites
PERSISTENCE: Pests: short Natural enemies: short
MODE OF ACTION: Contact including smothering and barrier effects.
COMMENTS: Use highest rate for July or August applications. Low-volume may be preferable. Caution: Serious hazards are associated with oil sprays to green lemons because of phytotoxicity after sweating check label for preharvest interval.
B. ACEQUINOCYL
(Kanemite 15SC) 21–31 oz/acre (OC) 12 7
RANGE OF ACTIVITY: Pests: narrow (mites) Natural enemies: predatory mites
PERSISTENCE: Pests: intermediate Natural enemies: intermediate
MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NUMBER 1 : 20B
COMMENTS: For use on oranges, grapefruit, and lemons only. Apply by ground using 100 to 250 gal water/acre. Do not use less than 100 gal water/acre. Do not apply more than 62 oz/acre per season. Allow a minimum of 21 days between applications.
C. PYRIDABEN
(Nexter) Label rate (OC) 12 7
RANGE OF ACTIVITY: Pests: narrow (mites) Natural enemies: predatory mites
PERSISTENCE: Pests: intermediate Natural enemies: intermediate
MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NUMBER 1 : 21A
COMMENTS: When this pesticide was used during April and May in the San Joaquin Valley and thrips were abundant, there was an increase in scarring damage caused by thrips. Do not apply more than twice per year.
D. FENPYROXIMATE
(Fujimite SC) 4 pt (OC or IC) 12 3
RANGE OF ACTIVITY: Pests: narrow (mites) Natural enemies: predatory mites
PERSISTENCE: Pests: intermediate Natural enemies: intermediate
MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NUMBER 1 : 21A
COMMENTS: Do not make more than two applications per season and allow 14 days between applications.
E. WETTABLE SULFUR#
Label rates (OC) 24 0
RANGE OF ACTIVITY: Pests: narrow (mites and citrus thrips) Natural enemies: most
PERSISTENCE: Pests: intermediate Natural enemies: intermediate
MODE OF ACTION: unknown
COMMENTS: For use on all varieties. Apply from Oct. through May when monitoring indicates a need. Do not apply more than 6 lb per 100 gal water. Do not apply during or preceding high temperatures. Do not apply sulfur within 2 months of a previous oil spray, and do not apply oil 60 to 90 days after a sulfur treatment. Not recommended for use in the San Joaquin Valley.
F. FENBUTATIN OXIDE
(Vendex 50WP) 0.24–0.5 lb/100 gal (OC) 48 7
. . . or . . .
2–4 lb/acre (LV)
RANGE OF ACTIVITY: Pests: narrow (mites) Natural enemies: predatory mites
PERSISTENCE: Pests: short Natural enemies: short
MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NUMBER 1 : 12B
COMMENTS: For use on all varieties. This pesticide does not work well in cool weather and requires higher rates during these periods. Do not apply more than 1,600 gal dilute spray/acre or use more than 4 lb/acre per season.
** LV - Low-volume uses 20 to 100 gal water/acre.
OC - Outside coverage uses 100 to 250 gal water/acre.
IC – Intermediate coverage uses 250 to 600 gal water/acre.
Restricted entry interval (REI) is the number of hours (unless otherwise noted) from treatment until the treated area can be safely entered without protective clothing. Preharvest interval (PHI) is the number of days from treatment to harvest. In some cases the REI exceeds the PHI. The longer of two intervals is the minimum time that must elapse before harvest.
# Acceptable for use on organically grown produce.
* Permit required from county agricultural commissioner for purchase or use.
1 Rotate chemicals with a different mode-of-action group number, and do not use products with the same mode-of-action group number more than twice per season to help prevent the development of resistance. For example, the organophosphates have a group number of 1B chemicals with a 1B group number should be alternated with chemicals that have a group number other than 1B. Mode-of-action group numbers (un = unknown or uncertain mode of action) are assigned by IRAC (Insecticide Resistance Action Committee).

UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines: Citrus
UC ANR Publication 3441

E.E. Grafton-Cardwell, Lindcove Research and Extension Center, Exeter and Entomology, UC Riverside

J.G. Morse (emeritus), Entomology, UC Riverside (emeritus)

D.R. Haviland, UC IPM and UC Cooperative Extension Kern County

B.A. Faber, UC Cooperative Extension Ventura County

Acknowledgement for Contributions to Insects, Mites, and Other Invertebrates

B.N. Cass, Entomology and Nematology, UC Davis

J. Gorden, Pest Management Associates, Exeter

H.M. Kahl, Entomology and Nematology, UC Davis

C.E. Kallsen, UC Cooperative Extension Kern County

D. Machlitt, Consulting Entomology Services, Camarillo

T. Roberts, PCA, Integrated Consulting Entomology, Ventura

J.A. Rosenheim, Entomology and Nematology, UC Davis

J. Stewart, Pest Management Associates, Exeter

P. Washburn, Washburn & Sons Citrus Pest Control, Riverside


Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Citrus has long been thought of as a low-maintenance crop. Though this crop is relatively low input, it is not hands free. Regular and timely scouting can keep the maintenance input to a minimum. This guide will provide you with a key to identify insect pests and diseases that may impact your production and beneficial insects that frequent the orchards. Insecticide and fungicide recommendations change along with the labels always check the pesticide label before treating your crop. Insecticide and fungicide recommendations should be considered as suggestions prepare a complete IPM plan for your orchard and keep good records of your insect pest issues.

The following are pests and diseases of citrus and how to manage them properly.


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