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Cyclamen Mites, belonging to the Tarsonemidae family and known by their scientific name Phytonemus pallidus (Banks), are one of the most harmful pests causing damage to foliage, buds, and blooms of various greenhouse and ornamental plants.
The Cyclamen mite causes the most damage to:
- African violets
- New Guinea impatiens
Also called Phytonemus pallidus, and Polyphatarsonemus latus (broad mite), these tiny arthropods with brown-orange, translucent, elliptical bodies do not grow more than 0.5mm in size.
This makes them invisible to the naked eye on infested plants. They move around with their four pairs of legs.
Adult female broad mites are larger in size and have thread-like hind legs, whereas male adults have pincers or claws at the end of their hind legs.
The cyclamen mite has a fast reproductive cycle and their life cycle takes no more than 3 weeks to complete.
Female broad mites lay around 90 eggs, which are larger in size than adult mites.
New eggs hatch in summer to reveal the six-legged larvae.
After a dormant nymphal stage, the cyclamen mite becomes fully mature in two weeks.
Broad mites spread at an alarming rate after infestation.
Female cyclamen mites often go into semi-hibernation in the soil waiting for a host plant.
What Are Cyclamen Mites?
Cyclamen mites are tiny pests found in young, unfolded leaves, the calyx of flower buds, and different parts of flowers.
Cyclamen mites pierce delicate tissues of the plants like the African violet, feeding and sucking the sap along with other cellular content.
The damage caused is severe and persistent. The Phytonemus pallidus pests love humid conditions.
They thrive in places with temperatures within 59° – 72° degrees Fahrenheit (15° C – 22° C) and relative humidity over 80%.
Hence, they are mainly found in tropical regions with temperate climates.
They infest a variety of plants from commercial crops to the ones grown in the nursery.
They hate sun exposure and remain hidden in the curled or enclosed parts of the plant like flower buds.
This helps them retain the moisture of their soft, jelly-like exoskeleton.
What Damage Does Cyclamen Mites Cause?
Due to their microscopic size, cyclamen mites are hard to detect in the initial phases of infestation.
Cyclamen mite pest infestations is often discovered after the plant has undergone severe damage.
These mites target the plants grown in fall or those in their second year of planting.
However, they also spread when transplanting.
Cyclamen mites affect specific regions around the buds in some plants, whereas in some species it may spread throughout the plant.
The symptoms of cyclamen mite infestation may include discoloration of the foliage, withering flowers, distorted and stunted growth and premature fruit drop.
The damage to the leaves is most prominent as they become dull and blotchy.
Leaves develop streaks and wrinkles on their surface. They also harden and curl inward.
Cyclamen mites kill the blooms and deform the buds.
The infested plant will either stop producing fruits or affect its quality and size.
How To Treat Cyclamen Mite Infestations?
Cyclamen mites spread rapidly and readily to neighboring plants. Hence, it’s important to control and prevent their infestation.
Prevention is the best management technique for these stubborn pests because controlling the mites after infestation might lead to plant causalities.
- Cyclamen mites cannot survive without humid conditions.
- Keep the plants in a region with low humidity.
- Take special care when handling plants as these mites can travel far and wide to find new host plants on your hands or clothes.
- Check for symptoms and isolate the plants if they show signs of infestation.
- Get control of infested benches (spray them) and get rd of severely infested plants to control the problem.
- If the infested plant has not yet suffered heavy damage, salvage it by trimming the injured parts and then immersing it in water heated to 110° degrees Fahrenheit (43° C) for about half an hour.
- Monitor the temperature carefully.
Chemical control is also effective to control Cyclamen mites.
- Ensure the infested plant is kept away from the healthy ones before subjecting it to miticides or insecticidal soap.
- If using pesticides, apply four times with a two-week break after each application.
- In the case of insecticide soap, add a wetting agent and keep 3-to-5-day breaks between applications.
- Apply directly on all parts of the plant, take cuttings, and discard the infested or damaged parts.
Another chemical-free, natural biological control procedure involves releasing predatory mites.
- The naturally occurring predatory mites for cyclamen mites are Typhlodromus bellinis and T. reticulates.
- These mite predators will feast on the pests and overcome the problem.
- Choose the predators after studying their humidity and temperature needs.
Keep plants protected from these pests with a regular spray treatment program of pesticide and insecticides. Always follow the label.