Spider mites thrive in heat, hurting yields

A University of Missouri field crop entomologist says he is seeing more spider mites in fields.

Kevin Rice tells Brownfield the mites can be present all growing season, but they flourish during the summer months.

“It’s the hot, dry weather that really makes their populations explode,” he said.

Rice said the spider mite’s life cycle speeds up from three weeks to about five days in hot weather, causing them to reproduce faster. He said spider mites mostly affect soybeans, but they can also be found in corn.

Rice said scouting the mites can be difficult…

“They’re about the size of a grain of salt,” he said. “So, you really need a hand lens. Alternatively, you can take a piece of white paper and sort of shake the plant and you may see these really tiny yellowish-white things moving on the paper.”

Rice recommends surveying fields moving in a “V” or a “U” shape to get the best samples. He says the pest can be treated using insecticides that can be found on MU’s Integrated Pest Management webpage.

Kevin Rice Interview

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