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The Broad Mite (Polyphagotarsonemus latus) is a member of the Tarsonemid mite family. These mites will attack and cause damage to a wide range of plants including; Peppers and many types of ornamental plants including Azaleas, Begonias, Cyclamens and Gerberas. The Broad Mite life cycle consists of a transition from eggs to larvae and then to adults. The eggs are laid on the underside of leaves and are generally transparent. The adult Broad Mites are oval shaped and about 0.2mm in length. The mites are normally pale yellow but this colour can vary depending on what they are feeding on. The females will often have a white stripe on their back.
The damage symptoms on plants are similar to those sustained by plants when they are infected with viruses, with plants showing distorted growing tips and curled up leaves, as pictured above. Broad Mites will suck out the contents of plant cells and secrete substances on to the leaves which are harmful to the plants. Leaves will turn brown, especially around the edges and brown patches can also appear on plant stems. The mites prefer feeding on young growth such as the growing tips, young leaves and even flower buds of plants. In large numbers Broad Mites can kill off growing tips and in severe cases cause plant death.
To control Broad Mite infestations you should consider removing leaves infested with the mites. You can also try reducing the relative humidity where your plants are kept as this will slow down the Broad Mite development. There are also several predatory mites that will feed on Broad mite adults and eggs to offer a biological control for this pest. Broad Mite Killer is supplied as Amblyseius andersoni and can be released on plants indoors or outdoors for control of Broad Mites. Other predators that will feed on Broad mite include; Amblyseius californicus, Amblyseius swirskii and Amblyseius cucumeris.