Diagnosing balaustium mite

Balaustium mite is a sucking pest of crops. Crops usually outgrow damage unless stressed.

Lupin cotyledons become thickened and silvered
Canola cotyledons become cupped
Adult up to 2 millimetres long, uniformly red brown body with stout hairs covering the body.

What to look for

    Insect Adult

  • Adults up to 2 millimetres (mm) and uniformly red brown with stout hairs covering the body.
  • Very young mites are bright red.


  • Balaustium mites typically attack leaf edges and leaf tips of plants.
  • In canola damage is characterised by distorted cupped cotyledons that may have a leathery appearance.
  • In pulses and cereals Balaustium mites cause irregular white spotting on leaves that sometimes becomes bleached.

What else could it be

Condition Similarities Differences
Diagnosing redlegged earth mite Larval colour and plant damage The main difference is the distinctive red legs and black body of the RLEM
Diagnosing blue oat mite Larval colour and plant damage The main difference is the Blue oat mite's black body, red legs and red dot on the back
Diagnosing bryobia mite Coloured larvae Bryobia mite's front legs are much larger and they cause whitish trails on the leaf surface

Where did it come from?

Green bridge
Green bridge
  • Balaustium mites come from South Africa, usually have 2 generations per season and do not require cold temperatures to stimulate egg hatching.
  • Eggs hatch when there is sufficient moisture.
  • Mite damage is common in early sown crops in years with summer rain and green bridge.

Management strategies

Grass weed control
Grass weed control
  • Early control of summer and autumn weeds, especially capeweed and grasses will help to control populations.
  • Applications of synthetic pyrethroids at the highest registered rate provides control. Organophosphates are not effective against this pest.

Economic and financial considerations

To assist in assessing the economic risk and financial costs associated with various treatment strategies go to MyEconomicTool

There may be other economic and financial implications that need to be considered when choosing a management option. These may include:

  • Understand the potential yield losses associated with mite feeding damage.
  • Assess the costs and benefits of taking preventative action.
  • Assess the cost and benefits of controlling summer weeds to reduce potential feed source.
  • Compare the costs, benefits and risk of each management option against doing nothing.
  • Consider risk and associated costs or savings of no treatment or delaying treatment.
  • Ignore all previous treatment costs in assessing current management options.
  • Undertake a “what if” scenario analysis to see what impact changing assumptions (e.g. grain price and seasonal conditions), have on the projected economic outcomes.
  • Include a resistance management strategy into your spray program to reduce the chance of mites and other non-target pests developing resistance.

View these economic considerations in more detail.

Where to go for expert help

Page last updated: Friday, 17 April 2015 - 2:14pm