Tarsonemid mite Tarsonemus pallidus

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Damage. Distortion of developing leaves and flowers resulting from small feeding holes and injected toxins are the main symptom of this pest. This may happen to such an extent that leaves and petals are stunted and misshapen, and flowers may not open properly. Plant species affected are Amaranthus, Fuchsia, pelargonium and cyclamen (the pest is sometimes referred to as 'cyclamen mite') A closely related but distinct strain is found on strawberries.

Life cycle. This spherical mite, only 0.25 mm in length, lives in the unex-panded buds of a wide variety of pot plants. In greenhouses, the adults may lay eggs all the year round, and the 2 weeks life cycle period can cause a rapid increase in its numbers.

Spread occurs mainly on transported bulbs, corms and plants.

Control. Care should be taken to prevent introduction of infested plants and propagation material into greenhouses. For the amateur, there is no recommended chemical product. For the professional grower, the contact acaricide, abamectin, is effective against the mite. Addition of a wetter/spreader may help the spray penetrate the tight-knit scale leaves of buds.

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