Ornamental & Turf Insect Note Logo


Steven D. Frank and S. Bambara, Extension Entomologists

CAUTION: This information was developed for North Carolina and may not apply to other areas.
[General Information] [Biology] [Control] [Other Resources


General Information

mite close upFalse spider mites are flat and orange to red with black spots and the group is comprised of several different species. The adult mite is small (about 0.3 mm) and has a genital opening. Tenuipalpus mites are broad in the middle and narrow behind. Pentamerismus mites are elongate and orange. Brevipalpus mites are strongly textured on top.

The eggs are somewhat flattened and red, and are sometimes ridged. False spider mite larvae are the size of the eggs and only have six legs at this stage. The protonymphs resemble adult mites in shape and have eight legs. The deutonymph, the last stage before the adult, is as large as adult false spider mites and it has eight legs. But this stage has no genital opening.


mites on leafFalse spider mites are found throughout North America, parts of Europe, South Africa, and Australia. The family is considered to be cosmopolitan. Various species of false spider mites feed on a variety of ornamental, fruit, and vegetable crops. The phalaenopsis mite (Tenuipalpus pacificus) and the oncidium mite (Brevipalpus oncidii) are fairly specific for orchids. Another false spider mite, Tenuipalpus orchidarum, also feeds on orchids. The red and black mite (Brevipalpus phoenicis) has been collected on greenhouse palms, privet, citrus, and English walnut and many other plants. The omnivorous mite (Brevipalpus californicus) and the privet mite (Brevipalpus inornatus) feed on a variety of woody ornamental plants. The privet mite is common in the southeastern United States. Another false spider mite, Pentamerismus erythreus, has been collected on a variety of coniferous host plants: arborvitae, Juniperus, sequoia, spruce, and Chamaecyparis.

With their needle-sharp mouthparts, false spider mites puncture the epidermis of the host plant and suck out the juices. This causes a pale spot which may later turn brown. Infested shrubs slowly turn reddish-brown and appear to have "winter injury". This damage resembles that of spider mites but the onset of symptoms is much slower.

Female false spider mites lay eggs which take 20 to 21 days to hatch at room temperature. Larvae hatch from the eggs and feed for about two weeks before molting into protonymphs. After 15 days of feeding, the protonymphs molt into deutonymphs. Two weeks later, the deutonymphs molt into adult mites. Incubation and development are slower outdoors in cold weather. There are 4 to 6 generations per year (18 to 36 generations of spider mites per year).


Several pesticides are labled for "mite" control. Most false spider mites feed on the lower leaf surface so that the pesticide spray must be directed upwards to contact the mites. The following pesticides are suitable for home use. Use only one of the following products.

Be sure to read and follow the directions for safe application found on the label.

Pesticide  (Trade Name)  Comments 
*fluvalinate (Mavrik)  
*horticultural oil (Sunspray, Ultra Fine, others)  
*soap (Insecticide Concentrate, M-Pede, others)  
abamectin  (Avid) tends to work better in combination with hort oil
bifenthrin (Talstar)  
disulfoton (DiSyston) granular (many uses discontinued)
pyridaben (Sanmite) greenhouse and nursery
spiromesifen (Forbid) 4F Outdoor landscapes only
spiromesifen (Judo) Greenhouse and Nursery
* Suitable for home use.

Useful Links: Floricultural mites in Canada

Recommendations of specific chemicals are based upon information on the manufacturer's label and performance in a limited number of trials. Because environmental conditions and methods of application by growers may vary widely, performance of the chemical will not always conform to the safety and pest control standards indicated by experimental data.
Recommendations for the use of chemicals are included in this publication as a convenience to the reader. The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services in this publication does not imply endorsement by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned. Individuals who use chemicals are responsible for ensuring that the intended use complies with current regulations and conforms to the product label. Be sure to obtain current information about usage and examine a current product label before applying any chemical.
For assistance, contact your county North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service agent.

Other Resources

Published by North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service
Distributed in furtherance of the Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914. Employment and program opportunities are offered to all people regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. North Carolina State University at Raleigh, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.
© 2001 NC Cooperative Extension Service

Originally prepared by: James R. Baker & S. Bambara, Extension Entomologists
ENT/ort-47 September 1994 (Revised)May 1997

Web page last reviewed January, 2011 by the webperson.