Clover mites are tiny, reddish-brown creatures that often appear by the thousands in homes, crawling around windows and many other areas. They are most abundant in the spring but can be found during other months of the year. Clover mites are readily distinguished from other mites commonly found around homes by their front legs which are as long as their bodies. They do not bite humans or pets nor cause any damage but are extremely annoying, both by their presence and the red stain that they leave when crushed.
Clover mites feed by sucking juice from plants. They attack and breed on a number of grasses and on many cultivated plants and weeds growing around homes. They are most numerous in newly established lawns and in old lawns where there is a heavy growth of succulent, well-fertilized grass.
The mites spend most of the year on plants outdoors. As cooler days appear in the fall, the mites begin to migrate to protective cover and often crawl up the sides of buildings to be in the sun. For this reason they are usually found on the sunny sides of buildings. When cold weather arrives, the mites go into hibernation in protected places under bark, debris, in foundation crevices, around and in the frames and channels of windows, behind clapboards, shingles, in wall spaces, etc.
The mites resume activity and are increasingly more noticeable during periods of warm weather and rising temperatures, in winter and in early spring. They congregate in sunny areas--especially around windows--in preparation for migration to outdoor plants. This is the time that homeowners usually first notice their presence. Activity reaches a peak during May and then tapers off as mites complete their migrations from the house to outdoor plants. The mites resume feeding and breeding and can produce two to six generations in a year. During adverse summer weather, such as drought, mites may migrate back to buildings until outdoor conditions improve.
Mites already in homes can be eliminated with bug bombs carbaryl (Sevin), diazinon (Spectracide) or malathion (Cythion), or vacuum cleaned as they appear. These treatments only provide temporary relief and must be repeated as new mites move out of hibernation.
Grass growing next to the foundation of homes affords the mites protective cover and easy access to buildings. Flower beds or unplanted strips of sand or fine gravel 18 to 24 inches wide around the foundation help reduce the number of mites entering homes.
The best control is achieved by destroying the mites outside before they get into the house. Use sprays containing any of the following materials in combination with barrier strips: diazinon (Spectracide, D.Z.N.), fluvalinate (Mavrik), chlorpyrifos (Dursban), insecticidal soap, kelthane or malathion. See label for dosage rates,
Try to treat when daytime temperatures will be at least 60oF, because the effectiveness of miticides is greatly reduced by cooler temperatures. Spray a band of lawn at least 15' wide around the entire foundation of the house. A drenching spray is necessary for good control. Mites will be present in lawns from the egg to adult stage. Since all stages are not susceptible to chemical control, repeat treatments may be needed at 14-day intervals.
Caulk all cracks and crevices in clapboards, shingles, the foundation and around basement windows. Be sure to spray into the area between the bottom of the house siding and the foundation.
Basement windows are reported as one of the favorite hiding places for clover mites. Remove basement windows, if possible, and thoroughly clean them to remove mites and their eggs from window frames and in window channels. This can be done by first using a brush to loosen them and then picking them up with a vacuum cleaner. After cleaning the window frames and channels should be treated by spraying or painting with one of the recommended miticides.
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