Mites in citrus

Page last updated: Tuesday, 28 October 2014 - 9:57am

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Mites (Acari) are arthropods, a group that includes insects and spiders. Some mites are large enough to be visible to the naked eye while others can only be seen with a hand lens or microscope.

In Western Australia, five species of mite are potential pests: two-spotted mite, citrus bud mite, citrus rust mite, oriental spider mite and broad mite. Damage to citrus is rare except from the citrus bud mite. Depending on the species, damage ranges from feeding scars on leaves through to bronzing, scarring and fruit deformation.


Mites cause damage by sucking the cell contents from buds, leaves and fruit. On leaves, feeding damage results in stippling (light dots) which can sometimes take on a bronze color. Mites generally prefer to feed on young, flushing leaves, but if infestations are severe, they will also feed on older leaves. Leaf drop can occur through mite feeding and although this does not usually result in yield loss during the year of infestation (unless it occurs in spring or early summer), it can impact on the following year’s crop.

Symptoms of mite damage to fruit vary. Rust mites 'bronze' the skin of mature oranges, while broad mite causes 'shark-skin' to form on limes and lemons. Bud mite damage can deform lemons.



Sonya Broughton