Let us take a look at how to get rid of lawn mites. Lawn mite infestations often occur and can make patches in your lawn, or kill the grass altogether. This can be a bit depressing. Often the causes of these mite problems can be managed, but normally you need to get the mites under control, then remove the problem that caused your grass to be weak so that they do not come back.
Types Of Lawn Mites
Many types of mites can damage plants. When it comes to mites that damage lawns, we get a few common suspects. Mites are typically a dry weather phenomenon. When conditions are hot and dry they will proliferate rapidly. If you find you have to control pests and mites in your garden a lot, I would suggest getting a jeweler’s loupe. These help you have a close-up look at leaves so you can ascertain if there are mites, and in some cases what type of mites you have.
The Banks grass mite (Oligonychus pratensis) is a common turf mite in dry weather and dry climates. When grass is drought stressed its ability to strengthen itself (plants can do this) against attack is weakened, and the mites thrive in the dry conditions. Your lawn will take on a look of having burnt patches, which can spread rapidly.
I am never a fan of chemical solutions for treating any problem. Luckily, we can use a commonly available safe chemical – water – to control these mites. If you get your irrigation set up correctly, you can make sure that parts of the lawn where mites proliferate – hot dry bits – are now irrigated and hence not hot and dry anymore, allowing the grass to get ahead of the mites. These mites do not like water much.
If you really feel the urge to spray something, you could try a product such as this. The active ingredient, bifenthrin, will give you a little bit of control over the mites, and together with an amended watering regime will allow you to get your lawn back on track.
Clover mites (Bryobia praetiosa). This mite is just a nuisance. I used to get invasions of them before I pulled up my lawns (in my opinion a lawn is a huge waste of money and a useful food production space). These mites breed up in my area in spring and fall and for some or other reason they decide to come into the house and sit on the ceiling where they poop or something and make these big stains. They are a terrible nuisance.
If you have not done as I did, and terminated your lawns, you can use your jeweler’s loupe to have a nice close look at a few mites. The clover mite has this long wavy set of front legs. My garden has a lot of vertical structures – trees, walls, rockeries, etc, and these mites need places like this to complete their life cycle. You will find that they cluster and cause lawn problems near trees and walls, as they need to be able to climb up something to grow (shed their skins) and also reproduce by laying eggs.
I found I was able to control them by watering – if you ensure that problem spots get supplemental watering it seems to keep them under control. As I have said before, I really do not like poisons – especially on my food or on surfaces I am going to walk barefoot on. Hence I do not spray, but if you do feel the urge to spray poisons in your garden, bifenthrin-containing products seem to be what is recommended.
Many other species of mites can be found on lawns, but the above two are the usual suspects in my experience.
Lawn Mite Damage
Lawn mites rasp the protective surfaces of the grass leaves causing them to dry out and wither. In addition to the visual appearance of the lawn, lawn mites can also damage your lawn by creating a musty, moldy smell.
If you are so inclined as to have a lawn (really think about this – it is a big waste of resources) maintaining a healthy lawn has a few benefits. The lawn keeps dust under control and stops mud and dirt from being tracked into your house. It provides a space for kids and pets to run around and it helps a bit to clean the air. In this regard, you can see why I would think spraying poison on a surface that performs the above functions makes no sense.
How To Get Rid Of Lawn Mites?
To get rid of lawn mites you can use several methods that include:
1. For lawn mites treatment, use an insecticide that is safe for your family.
There are various preparations on the market for acaricidal (kills mites) agents. If you really strongly feel the urge to spray poisons around your living area, then a relatively low toxicity product containing bifenthrin would be my choice. To be honest, I would rather cut my arm off with a blunt spoon than use poison on a surface I am going to walk on, or worse still have my future family play on it. But that is my choice – you can make yours.
2. Use organic methods
Some people use an application of borax that helps to control mites. Borax is a relatively safe product (apparently it has an LD50 of 2,6g/kg – if 50% of mammals that eat 2,6g/kg of body mass will die. That is quite high, meaning that it is pretty safe. For most pesticides the LD50 will be measured in thousands of that amount). Again, just because it is “safe” and “natural” does not mean that common sense does not apply.
Despite the internet being full of references to using borax to treat lawn mites, I cannot find a single product that is registered for application on a lawn.
This product is however registered for application on surfaces such as walls and around buildings, and can hence legally be used to control Clover mites when they decide to migrate into your house and make a mess.
If you have a small lawn, or a big lawn and a big budget, you could use neem oil for spot control of areas where mite infestations are significant. Again, just because it is natural does not mean it is “safe”. Follow the safety instructions on the bottle.
3. Use a pest control service.
Pest control companies are well regulated and also tend to know what will work in your area. If you are inclined to use poisons or need advice on biocontrols and a similar product, local pest control experts will tend to have good knowledge gained from extension services, pesticide companies, and research relevant to your area.
How To Prevent Lawn Mites?
Mites tend to be opportunistic pests. Healthy grass is less susceptible to mite damage. However, if you make you feed your grass too much it may look healthy but actually be a bit unhealthy. All plants will have a balance of sugars and salts in their leaves that will increase to a point with health. Plants that are unhealthy tend to have a lower concentration of sugars and salts in their leaves and become attractive to mites.
When plants are stressed, the concentration of sugars and salts in their leaves declines. Hence the maintenance of a healthy lawn is actually really about maintaining healthy grass that can fight off problems, rather than treating problems when they occur because your grass is not healthy.
I am a firm believer in establishing healthy populations of soil fungi – especially your arbuscular mycorrhizal population. These fungi actually live on and in the roots of your plants and help the plants absorb nutrients. This product contains a good mix of beneficial fungi for your soil.
Mycorrhiza improves grass growth, and improves the ability of plants to absorb nutrients – what this means is that they increase the concentration of salts and sugars in the leaves – this, in turn, makes your grass less attractive to mites. Fight from the inside!
In Conclusion – How To Get Rid Of Lawn Mites?
It is essential to learn how to get rid of lawn mites so that your lawn is free from these and other pests.
I would recommend that you use a combination of careful application of water, together with mycorrhizal fungi and balanced organic fertilizers (slow release products) that build your soil. Healthy grass in healthy soil is mite resistant. Unhealthy grass in unhealthy soil needs to be treated with pesticides and poisons. Your call.
Frequently Asked Questions
When to spray for lawn mites?
Spray as soon as you notice mite infestations on the plants. Mite damage is often not noticeable at first, but the plant will start to look worse and worse as the infestation gets worse. As the damage progresses the plant will become more and more unkempt looking, with leaves wilting, yellowing, and eventually dying. Spraying for mites should be done weekly or biweekly until the infestation has been brought under control.