Strategies for control of the redlegged earth mite in Australia

James Ridsdill-Smith, A.A. Hoffmann, G.P. Mangano, J.M. Gower, C.C. Pavri, P.A. Umina

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    The redlegged earth mite, Halotydeus destructor, continues to be an intractable pest causing damage to most crop and pasture species in southern Australia. H. destructor feed on all stages of plants, but particularly damage seedlings in autumn. Research has aimed to develop new controls based on a better understanding of the biology and ecology of this pest. Chemicals remain the key tool to control H. destructor, despite the recent appearance of resistance to synthetic pyrethroids. A control package, Timerite, has been developed by which a single well-timed spray in spring can prevent H. destructor from developing diapause eggs. Field trials show this strategy provides effective control of H. destructor the following autumn, and protects plant seedlings, although mite populations build up again during winter. Non-chemical control strategies include grazing, the use of tolerant plants such as cereals, resistant legume cultivars and avoiding rotations where favourable host plants are available in the year before growing susceptible crops such as canola. Natural enemies can assist in mite control, and their numbers can be enhanced by methods including increasing landscape features like shelterbelts. Interspecific competition can occur between H. destructor and other pest mites, but the extent to which these interactions influence the structure of pest communities under different management regimes remains to be investigated.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1506-1513
    JournalAustralian Journal of Experimental Agriculture
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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