Zoysiagrass mite

The zoysiagrass mite (Eriophyes zoysiae Baker, Kono, and O‘Neill) is becoming a more widespread problem on zoysiagrass since its introduction into the U.S. in the 1980s. It is a microscopic pest that often goes undiscovered. The tiny worm-like mites infest unexpanded leaves, leaf sheaths, and collar regions of zoysiagrass. It can be found in all areas of Arkansas and from Texas to Kansas in the U.S.

Areas infested with zoysiagrass mite will appear thin and off-colored (A, B). New leaf tips often fail to emerge and appear to be caught or attached to older leaves (C, D). This distinctive symptom is described as a “buggy-whip”. Additional damage symptoms include a white or yellow-colored streak along the edge of leaves with the leaf margin rolled inwards (E, F).

Image of zoysiagras mite damage

The zoysiagrass mite only infests zoysiagrass and is different than the bermudagrass (stunt) mite (Eriophyes cynodoniensis Sayed), although both are in the same family of eriophyid mites. Among the zoysiagrass cultivars used in Arkansas, Cavalier, Diamond, and Meyer are highly susceptible; Palisades is moderately susceptible; Crowne and El Toro resistant; and Emerald and Royal are highly resistant to zoysiagrass mite (Reinert et al., 1993).

Zoysiagrass mite damage is typically worse in shaded areas adjacent to tree lines, although this pest can be found in full-sun areas as well. Damage is more prevalent in the summer months although all life stages of this pest are present when zoysiagrass is actively growing. There are few management solutions for controlling this pest. Damage seldom is severe enough to completely kill the turf although it may be thinned.

Chemical control of these mites is possible, but difficult. Repeated applications of pesticides would be required for complete control. Because the mites are concealed inside the leaf sheath emerging leaf blades, most pesticides will only suppress mites and not provide complete control. Products containing azadirachtin (Azatrol), bifenthrin (Allectus GC SC, Bifenthrin 2EC, Quali-Pro Bifenthrin, Talstar F), deltamethrin (DeltaGard T&O 5SC), and lambda-cyhalothrin (Quali-Pro Lambda GC-O, Scimitar) are registered for use on eriophyid mites in turfgrass. Dicofol (Kelthane 50 WSP) can be used on sod farms and golf courses for eriophyid mites but not on residential turf. Chlorpyrifos (Chlorpyrifos PRO 4, Dursban, Quali-Pro Chlorpyrifos 4E) can be used on sod farms for eriophyid mites.


Aaron Patton

Sources:

  1. Reinert, J.A., M.C. Engelke, and S.J. Morton. 1993. Zoysiagrass resistance to the zoysiagrass mite, Eriophyes zoysiae (Acari:Eriophyidae). Int. Turfgrass Soc. Res. J. 7:349-352.
  2. Potter, D.A. 1998. Destructive turfgrass insects: Biology, diagnosis, and control. Ann Arbor Press, Chelsea, MI.

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