Facts, Identification & Control
APPEARANCEWhat Do Clover Mites Look Like?
- Shape: Clover mite adults are oval shaped and about as small as the head of a pin.
- Size: Red colored
- Legs: Eight legged. The front pair of legs is very long compared to the other six legs and may be confused for the mite's antennae.
How Did I Get Clover Mites?
Abundant in well-fertilized lawns, clover mites get into houses through cracks around windows and doors, especially on the south and southwestern side of buildings. Because of their small size, even the tiniest of gaps may provide entry. The pests can also climb home siding to come inside through openings into attics and upper levels.
Thick shrubbery around homes creates the perfect conditions for a clover mite infestation. Populations of the insects are at their peak in the spring and early fall, when plants are thriving.
How Serious Are Clover Mites?
These nuisance pests are not dangerous to humans, as they do not feed on blood like other species of mites. However, clover mites do tend to invade houses in large numbers and may also leave stains if crushed. While clover mites are not long-term infestation problems, when the mites are active it can be best to request assistance from the Orkin pest specialists.
How Do I Get Rid of Clover Mites?
Control of clover mites is best left to your pest management professional (PMP). Your PMP will perform an inspection and use the inspection findings to prepare an integrated pest management plan for clover mite control. Your PMP will use his expertise and knowledge to recommend the application of effective and efficient chemical control measures to reduce the clover mite problem. However, his control program will likely include some helpful preventive measures the homeowner may choose to employ, as well. Among these preventive measures are:
- Using a wet sponge or a crevice attachment of a vacuum cleaner to remove mites, making sure to take precautions to avoid crushing the mites and causing stains.
- Removing all grass and weeds from around the foundation perimeter and leaving vegetation free strip about two feet wide. This method is especially important on the south and southwest sides of the structure. Clover mites are not as likely to move through bare, loose soil as they are through soil that is supporting plants that touch the structure's foundation. Use of pea gravel can also discourage mite movement into the structure.
- Sealing holes, cracks and gaps on the foundations, windows and doors, thus helping discourage mites from entering the structure.
- Making sure to use window screens that are tight fitting.
- Making sure not to over-fertilize the lawn or ornamental plant areas since clover mite populations tend to do better in lawns that are well fertilized.
SIGNS OF AN INFESTATION
Observance of the reddish colored clover mites crawling on surfaces such as windowsills and siding on the sunny sides of homes are the most obvious indicator of an infestation.
BEHAVIOR, DIET & HABITWhat do they do?
Although clover mites are not a danger to human health and do not destroy furniture, clothing or food items, they can become an indoor nuisance when invading homes, business and medical facilities. Once inside, they will soon die, but not until they have created problems resulting from an annoying presence and cosmetic damage from red stains resulting from mites that are crushed. This stain is not the mite's blood, but is the mite's body pigments.What do they eat?
Clover mites are not blood feeders, but feed on plants getting their nutrition from sucking plant juices from grasses, clover and other plants common to lawns. Clover mites can become a nuisance in multi-story buildings since they can live on rooftops and patios where mold or mildew provide sources of food.
Life Cycle & REPRODUCTION
Clover mites go through 4 life stages – eggs, larvae, nymphs and adults. The clover mite overwinters in any dry protected location primarily in the egg stage. Sidewalk cracks, walls of buildings and logs can host vast numbers of overwintering eggs.
The overwintering eggs hatch early in the spring and clover mite adults become active as soon as the temperature warm above about the mid-forties and begin to climb up the exterior walls from the ground and gain entrance around windows and doors. Overwintering mites hatch in the spring and begin to produce second generations. Spring generations will aestivate, which is a form of summer hibernation where mites go inactive on warm, dry days. Second generations typically complete in the fall.
Clover mite populations may become large since females can lay up to 70 eggs and each becomes a mature adult in 30 days or less under suitable circumstances. Clover mites reproduce by parthenogenesis, which means the females are able to reproduce without being fertilized by the males.
Clover mites are found throughout the United States.