What Are Rosette Bud Mites – Learn About Bud Mite Symptoms And Control

What Are Rosette Bud Mites – Learn About Bud Mite Symptoms And Control

By: Amy Grant

Fraser fir trees are a type of fir tree that is cultivated for use as Christmas trees. Fraser firs may succumb to or be damaged by a number of pests, amongst these are rosette bud mites. What are rosette bud mites and what methods of rosette bud mite control are there for the grower? The following article contains answers to these questions and other information on rosette bud mites.

What are Rosette Bud Mites?

Rosette bud mites are eriophyid mites that live inside Fraser fir buds. Eriophyid mites are different than other mites, such as spider mites. They are worm-like with a wedge shaped body and four legs on their anterior end. They can only be seen with the aid of a microscope or hand lens.

Their feeding causes galls to form in the vegetative buds. The mites emerge from the prior year’s gall during spring bud break and then either drop to the ground or are windblown onto healthy shoots. Rosette bud mites then feed at the top of the shoots, which distorts the bud, forming a gall instead of a bud the next year. Reproduction occurs in the gall throughout the year with as many as 3,000 mites inside a single rosette bud by winter.

Bud Mite Symptoms

Rosette bud mites, while not lethal to the tree, affect the quality of the tree. In the case of commercial Christmas tree growers, infestation of the mites and the resulting drop in grade can make the trees unmarketable. The effect of a heavy infestation is obvious, creating stunted uneven growth.

Bud mite symptoms may look similar to damage caused by the balsam wooly adelgid. To distinguish between the two, look for adelgid nymphs or adults at the surface of the bud, and cut open the bud to look for resident rosette bud mites. Hopefully, you find bud mites and not adelgids, which can be deadly to Fraser firs.

Information on Rosette Bud Mite Treatment

Rosette bud mite control is difficult since the pests reside inside the Fraser fir bud. The upside to treating for bud mites is it allows you to control other Fraser fir pests (except Cinara aphids) at the same time.

Commercial Fraser fir growers inspect young groves of 2 years or younger, annually for bud mites. Then an estimate of the percentage of afflicted trees is made in the fall. If the grower deems that the infestation needs to be controlled, the trees will be treated with insecticide the following June.

Insecticides are either sprayed with hand held, high-pressure equipment or tractor driven air-blast mist blowers. Mist blowers are not recommended for heavy density groves. The only single application treatment is with dimethoate. Sevin and Metasystox-R are may also be effective in a two application rotation two weeks apart.

Rosette bud mite populations can also be reduced in smaller trees by not interplanting young trees with old. Also, overall tree health reduces the risk of rosette bud mites. Practice good fertilization and shearing the trees early. Harvest infested trees early to reduce the populations of bud mites the successive year.

There are no biological controls, such as natural predators, to reduce rosette bud mite populations, most likely because the mites spend the majority of their life cycle within the protective gall.

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You can control the bud mite, save lemons

Space monsters instead of lemons? It's the work of the dread citrus bud mite. Dagmar Zidek

Q:I have a lemon tree that has produced several deformed lemons. I would be most grateful if you would address the problem.

A: As you can see from the accompanying photo, the fruit becomes truly bizarre when tiny bud mites get to it. They infest the flower bud, sucking out the sap so that the resulting fruit is twisted and lobed. The problem is more common in cooler, coastal areas than it is inland.

A number of beneficial creatures, especially some wild predatory mites, help control the bud mite by feeding on it. You can control the bud mite with minimum harm to the predator mites by spraying with a commercial "summer oil" from September through November and again in May and June. Use a commercial pesticide oil preparation, following label directions. If you want to avoid a petroleum-based product, look for one that contains a vegetable oil instead, though any of them will do the trick.

A reader responds to the Sept. 6 column on Jersey new potatoes:

I grew up in Essex, England, and remember my father growing such varieties as 'Aaran Banner,' 'Epicure,' 'King Edward and 'Majestic.' I did a Google search for potato varieties and came up with Gardenaction.co.uk, where you can find a great deal of information. There seem to be a number of new varieties. Jersey potatoes were the earliest "new" potatoes we looked forward to we would enjoy them with roast lamb, mint and peas at Easter.

It doesn't sound as though your questioner got very good seed in the first place. Readiness is usually indicated when the hulms dry out. We have grown potatoes successfully in San Francisco and what better than to come home from work, go down to the garden and fork over a potato plant that was ready.

The British site you found does list many potato varieties. However most, like Jerseys, are probably not available in the United States. The U.S. source I've found with the widest selection, Potato Garden (potatogarden.com, (970) 835-4500), carries more than 60 varieties, only two of which are listed on the Gardenaction site: 'Desiree' and 'Maris Piper.'

We even use different terms here. You called the plants "hulms." It's a variant of a fine Anglo-Saxon word, "haulms," meaning "stems" or "stalks," but Americans don't use it. The Potato Garden catalog calls the plants "vines." You are quite right that the plants should be dying when you harvest. Healthy potato plants turn bright yellow before they die, and you can dig the tubers from the time that the leaves are 20 percent yellow. They may have bloomed by this time, but some potato varieties never bloom, so you can't really go by that sign.


The rose bud mite, Phyllocoptes fructiphilus (Keifer) (Acari: Trombidiformes: Eriophyoidea), is an eriophyoid mite first collected from seeds and fruits and around the petiole bases of Rosa californica (Cham & Schltdl) in Clarksburg, California in 1940 (Keifer 1940). In 1941, a disease affecting an unidentified rose variety was detected in Canada (Conners 1941) its nature remained unclear for many years although it was thought to be a virus (Di et al. 1990) vectored by P. fructiphilus (Allington et al. 1968). Laney et al. (2011) found an Emaravirus which was present only in rose tissues showing symptoms of the rose rosette disease (RRD), characterized its genome, and named it the Rose Rosette Virus (RRV). Later, Di Bello et al. (2015) conclusively proved that RRV is the only etiological agent of RRD, and that it is vectored by P. fructiphilus. More recently, Di Bello et al. (2018) also demonstrated that P. fructiphilus was able to establish, lay eggs and develop nymphs and adults on 20 tested rose genotypes.

Currently, P. fructiphilus is suspected to be widely distributed in the U.S. on wild and commercial roses (Amrine 2002). RRV and its mite vector were shown to be a method to control Rosa multiflora (Thunb), a plant categorized as being an invasive weed (Amrine 2002). However, since commercial roses are also affected by both the virus and the mite, the use of these organisms as biological control agents of R. multiflora is now highly discouraged (Hoy 2013).

Eriophyid mites are tiny, 140-175 μm in length and 40-50 μm in width, soft-bodied, transparent, worm-like and with only two pairs of legs. Species identification of eriophyoid mites is usually based on their unique morphology and requires microscopic observation at high magnification, although ecological differences could offer important clues. For instance, some mites hide inside the buds or plant malformations that they induce, whereas others wander on the open leaf surface (Sabelis and Bruin 1996).

There are 20 species of eriophyoid mites that belong to 10 different genera known worldwide on roses (de Lillo (Dip. Scienze del Suolo, Universita di Bari Aldo Moro, Bari, Italy) and Amrine personal databases Druciarek and Lewandowski 2016). As part of the US. National Project on RRD led by D.H. Byrne at Texas A&M University, we surveyed rose samples from several U.S. states using modern microscopy techniques including wide field, phase contrast, differential interference contrast microscopy, table top scanning electron microscopy and low temperature scanning electron microscopy. The goal of this survey was to determine which species of mites feed on roses, identify where they are found on roses, and to discuss their importance as pests.


Management of RRD requires a multistep approach and uses integrated pest management (Table 2). All landscape roses are thought to be susceptible to RRV. Studies are in progress to determine if resistance or tolerance is present in cultivated roses. There is no cure once a plant is infected. Growers have attempted to remove symptomatic canes by pruning, however pruning is often ineffective. The microscopic mites may remain on the plant and/or recently infected canes, which may not exhibit symptoms for many months or the virus may survive in the root system. Therefore, it is recommended to remove symptomatic plants at the first evidence of the disease, including the root ball. Dead heading roses throughout the season may be useful since mites accumulate around the open blooms. Maintaining proper health and vigor of roses in the landscape may be helpful.

If you’ve been on some of the rose forums, attended rose talks, or even just talked roses with friends on Facebook, you’ve likely heard of rose rosette disease, or RRD. While it’s been around a while, I’ve noticed it’s starting to show up on the radar screen of more and more general gardeners. So I thought it’s time we talked about it.

First, what is it? It is a disease that is carried by a very specific spider mite, Phyllocoptes fructiphilus. An infected mite drifts on the wind, comes into your garden, lands on your roses, and then injects the disease into the rose when it starts to feed. Or a noninfected mite lands on a rose that already has it, picks it up, and then is blown by the wind to another rose, which it proceeds to infect.

You know you’ve got it when your roses start to throw off strange growth that is purplish in color and most noticeably has “foliage” in the shape of what is called “witches broom” (see photos). It actually looks a lot like Roundup damage.

It is particularly lethal to the species R. multiflora and in fact has been mentioned as a potential biological control method for it. R. multiflora spreads like crazy, and in much of the eastern United States it’s classified as a noxious weed. In their attempt to control it, some government officials actually facilitated the spread of RRD by purposely infecting stands of multiflora. They claim there was no scientific proof RRD infected ornamental roses, the kind you and I grow in our garden.

Well, guess what? They were flat out wrong! RRD does affect ornamental roses, although some more than others. And that is enough about how it got here. Since this is a how-to article, we now want to answer the question: What the heck can you do about it?

First, let’s talk about what you can do to reduce the likelihood of it getting into your garden. Since it hits R. multiflora quickly, check in your area for stands of that species. R. multiflora only blooms in spring with smaller white flowers that have five or so petals each. That’s the easiest time to spot it. When it’s not in bloom, the foliage helps. It’s a shiny green, and the leaves are elongated. It’s usually thornless, which really helps. It’s a rambler and so throws off long canes. Dig it up and get rid of it. That’s your first step.

If RRD does happen to infect a rose in your garden, there is no known cure. However, I’ve noticed in dealing with it that there are steps I can take. The first one is understanding how it spreads in a rose. The mites land on the top of a rose cane, where the new tender foliage is. They inject RRD into that part of the rose, and from there it slowly travels down through the cane to the base and then up the other canes. The important word here is slowly.

I’ve noticed that the symptoms on the infected cane (the witches broom) often show up before the rest of the plant is infected. So the minute I see the witches broom, I follow that cane to the base of the plant and cut it off at the base. I put it in a garbage bag and get rid of it so I don’t accidentally shake any mites onto another rose. Eventually the cut-off cane is replaced by a new one, and it’s as if nothing ever happened.

However, if the disease appears to have spread into another section of the rose, you have no choice but to dig the entire rose up and either destroy it or get rid of it via the plastic garbage bag. I’ve lost a couple, and I know others who have lost more. But once they understood what was happening and how to deal with it, the incidents became less.

So does this mean you should simply stop growing roses? Of course not! RRD is a bummer when you first get it, but by knowing how to deal with it, you can reduce it to another part of normal garden maintenance. Just keep an eye out for it, and act quickly.

For further reading, check out Ann Peck’s amazing website on RRD.

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