Three species of spider mites commonly afflict citrus trees: the citrus red mite, six-spotted mite and Texas citrus mite, according to the University of Florida IFAS's website. All are serious vectors of the citrus leprosis virus, which afflicts orange and mandarin trees.
The Texas citrus mite is the most prevalent spider mite on citrus trees, followed by the citrus red mite. The mites are most prevalent from March to June but can occur all year. The six-spotted mite appears during cold winters, especially in December.
Spider mites consume the epidermal layer of cells on mature citrus tree leaves. A tree that suffers a high infestation will have severe leaf drop. A severe infestation can also result in damaged fruit. Mites pose the greatest danger to a citrus tree when the humidity level hovers between 30 per cent and 60 per cent.
The citrus tree owner may have to turn to miticides to gain control of a severe spider mite infestation. Miticides that contain fenbutatin oxide, spirodiclofen, acequinocyl, propargite and hexythiazox have proved effective, according to the University of California's website. Petroleum spray oils are also used for control. Applying copper, lime sulphur, sulphur and copper plus oil can prevent the spider mites.
Releasing natural predators, including ladybirds, aphid lions, shiny button mites, tan mites and yellow mites, can help reduce the spider mite population.
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- University of Florida IFAS: 2010 Florida Citrus Pest Management Guide: Rust Mites, Spider Mites, and Other Phytophagous Mites
- University of California: Citrus Red Mite
- University of Florida IFAS: Citrus Red Mite
- University of Florida IFAS: A Guide to Citrus Mite Identification
- University of Florida IFAS: Citrus Diseases Exotic to Florida: Citrus Leprosis
- University of Florida: Citrus Leprosis