Friday, April 20, 2012

Dry Conditions Cause Turf Mite Damage by Mary Small

Our Plant Diagnostic Clinic has been seeing a number of lawn samples with the same problem - mite damage. Mite damage is caused by the dry weather we have experienced this fall, winter, and spring. Areas of the lawn looks dead, bleached or seems to be coming out of winter slowly. Damage is most common on south exposures, west or south slopes or in lawn areas next to sidewalks or driveways.

Upon close inspection, grass blades are speckled with whitish flecks. Some blades may be purplish. Living mites have been found in a few cases, but generally they are undetectable now. Turf mites are tiny, spider-like relatives that are active during the winter and early spring, when they suck sap out of the grass plants.

The best management strategy is to make sure lawns are watered in fall and winter months when it is dry and there has been little precipitation. This past fall and winter were dry and provided ideal conditions for these creatures to develop. Drought stress goes hand in hand with mites.

At this time of the year there is little that can be done except to over seed or sod damaged areas and be prepared for them next year.