Gall mites, or eriophyid mites, cause abnormal plant growths on a wide variety of plants. While these mites rarely cause stress or injury to an affected plant, the deformations gall mites cause can be unsightly and repeated gall mite infestations can sometimes cause stunted plant growth.
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Gall Mite Identification
Gall mites are translucent, cigar shaped, microscopic mites that feed on many different plants. There are over 2000 species of eriophyid mites. Some are host specific, others feed on a wide variety of plants. The adult females overwinter as fertilized adults and reproduction is continuous. When buds begin to break open in spring, the mites emerge and begin to feed on new growth.
Gall Mite Symptoms
The salivary secretions from the mites spark increased production of plant growth hormones, which result in increased cell size and leads to galls. This mostly occurs when the plant is an accelerated growth period (late spring, early summer). Feeding can cause abnormalities like leaf curling, blisters, rusts, slivering, fruit russeting, and deformed buds, finger-like galls, and pocket pocket galls. The feeding of the mites forms galls. Gall mites cause ash flower gall, maple bladder gall, spindle galls on maple and linden, velvet galls on maple, along with many other plants. These mites don’t often affect mature plants.
Gall Mite Treatment & Control
Since gall mites cause no real harm to the plants they feed on, treatment is generally not recommended. However, if the unsightly deformations bother you, or if repeated infestations are affecting your plant’s growth, there are some measures you can take. Monitoring plants, using plants less susceptible to gall mites, removing infested leaves and branches and heavily infested plants (like corn or wheat), can help keep infestations down. Pesticides formulated for mites can be used if absolutely necessary. Spraying plants at the period when buds begin to break open is a good time to spray. Remember to read instructions and keep in mind that you may reduce the populations of natural predators for other pests.
Information via DoMyOwnPestControl.com experts, Colorado State Extension, and Utah State University Extension.
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