Hot temperatures and dry conditions in some parts of the Southeast add up to ideal conditions for mite populations to increase in citrus groves.
Lauren Diepenbrock, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences assistant professor and entomologist, said citrus can tolerate some spider mite pressure. Increased pressure, though, can leave an impact.
“You can handle some amount of damage from spider mites, but if they get too high you will lose your leaves. That’s going to reduce the photosynthetic area that is used to develop your fruit,” Diepenbrock said. “A little bit of pressure is no big deal, but a lot of pressure is a challenge. The hot and dry periods are particularly problematic for any type of mite.”
Diepenbrock highlighted spider mite impact during the recent Citrus Growers’ Summer Update in Valdosta, Georgia. She emphasized that populations would increase during dry weather. They will feed on the upper surface of young, hardened leaves. The damage can lead to leaf drop, and the loss of leaves will impact the quality of the fruit.
“You just want to keep the populations to a dull roar,” advised Diepenbrock. “They can be there. But you don’t want them to have huge netting or webbing all over trees. You don’t want to have a bunch of leaves dropping because there’s too much pressure on them. A little level of spider mites is fine. It’s not the end of the world. They’re going to be there. Heavy populations where you’re getting 20, 30 or 40 to a leaf, that’s probably not going to be ideal.”