A fresh look at Turf Mites

(originally published in November 2014, updated to include new treatment options)

Turf mites are now a major economic pest and are credited with severe restriction of couch regeneration in Spring!

Mite populations build quickly as new shoots are produced in early Spring, providing an inviting food source for this difficult to control pest. Modern thinking suggests that protecting this early season tissue from mites with a rotation of control products will go a long way to establishing season long control which leads to a dense, resilient sward.

Living Turf’s accredited spray service, Precision Turf have been supplying and applying THUMPER, FINESSE, VOYAGER and HIGRAN in programmed applications with truly astounding results. MP REINFORCE is a new inclusion with the MSA active improving the leaf’s capacity to resist attack. Scores of couch sportsfields belonging to major metropolitan councils, schools and stadiums are thriving under this mite control strategy. Many clients are even using the opportunity to tank mix soil insect control (ACELEPRYN) and contact insecticides (SENTINEL and MERIT) for even broader spectrum turf protection.

In May 2011 Peter McMaugh produced a HAL funded report, “Mite damage – a survey of 4 warm season turf grasses”. Although mites have been recognized in Australian turf for 70 years, there had been no detailed investigation on the types of mite present and what turf types are affected by them. Since the drought a few years ago the threat posed by mites on turf farms and sportsfields has increased massively.

Symptoms of mites are variable but include the classic “witches broom” at growth tips, “porpoising” of stolons and patchy discolouration with turf decline. In Kikuyu, mite infection is often followed by diseases, especially Dreschlera leaf spot. As a result, the normal cross linking stolon mat development is restricted leaving a weak turf cover that is unable to resist wear. How mites create these growth distortions is not known but once infected the population is very difficult to control.


Chemical control is challenging because contact miticides must get under the tight leaf sheath that harbour the mite. Maximising coverage is therefore critical and so we suggest including WETOUT spreader adjuvant to improve pesticide efficacy. Systemic or translaminar products should be used in a programmed fashion to establish early season control. Because turf managers only have a limited number of registered products available for mite control, it is critical to apply them according to label directions and carefully plan rotation of active ingredients.

An accepted method of “control” is to try and outgrow the mite, so spring fertilisation should always accompany a chemical treatment strategy. A spray plan begins when new shoots appear, apply abamectin (THUMPER or AGADOR) and VOYAGER plus WETOUT. Approximately 2 weeks later apply FINESSE and HIGRAN plus WETOUT to achieve a full 6 week window of control. Repeating the rotation at this stage will extend control where mite pressure is severe.