Red velvet mites are a type of spider commonly seen on the ground or trees during the spring, especially following a rainy period. Unlike many mites, red velvet mites are almost a half inch in length, long enough to be seen and noticed by most people. Young mites are parasitic on insects, while adults are predators.
Identify the mite. There are many different kinds of mites, most of which can not be easily seen. Balaustium putmani, or the red velvet mite, is a large mite shaped like a tick. During winter, eggs remain underneath the bark of trees. In May, nymphs hatch and begin feeding on mites, eggs and other small insects.
Monitor the mite population. If you notice mite eggs on tree twigs, especially fruit trees, note the number and whether they are increasing from year to year. Continued monitoring is important since mite populations grow rapidly given the right weather conditions.
Apply a miticide for controlling mites or a general insecticide. Apply these only as needed because some mites can develop a resistance to these chemicals.
- University of Florida Extension: Selected Miticides for Use on Ornamental Plants
- "Cochise County Master Gardener" Newsletter: The Agent’s Observations
- University of Kentucky Department of Entomology: Kentucky Mites and Ticks
- North Dakota State University Crop and Pest Report: Entomology for May 20, 2004
- Ontario Ministry of Agriculture: Mite Pests and their Predators in Ontario Orchards
- Red velvet mites are not parasitic on humans and generally do not need to be controlled, according to the Cochise County Cooperative Extension in Arizona. Indeed, these mites are useful predators and remain on fruit trees throughout the growing season, according to Ontario's Ministry of Agriculture.
- Depleting the natural red velvet mite population in a field, yard or garden can upset the balance between predatory and parasitic mites. This can result in the overpopulation of an area by harmful mites.