Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Tetranychus urticae
(two-spotted spider mite)



Tetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite)


  • Last modified
  • 19 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Tetranychus urticae
  • Preferred Common Name
  • two-spotted spider mite
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Chelicerata
  •         Class: Arachnida
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • T. urticae is a highly polyphagous, cosmopolitan species, which is readily spread on the wind. Under optimum conditions, it reaches a high population density, and its presence can cause a reduction in crop yield.

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Top of page
Tetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); colour enhannced SEM of an adult mite.
CaptionTetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); colour enhannced SEM of an adult mite.
CopyrightPublic Domain - Released by the United States Dept of Agrculture/Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS)/original image by the Electron and Confocal Microscopy Unit
Tetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); colour enhannced SEM of an adult mite.
AdultTetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); colour enhannced SEM of an adult mite.Public Domain - Released by the United States Dept of Agrculture/Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS)/original image by the Electron and Confocal Microscopy Unit
Tetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); adult male (smaller individual) and adult female.
CaptionTetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); adult male (smaller individual) and adult female.
Copyright©Horticulture Research International
Tetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); adult male (smaller individual) and adult female.
AdultsTetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); adult male (smaller individual) and adult female.©Horticulture Research International
Tetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); adult male.
TitleAdult male
CaptionTetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); adult male.
Copyright©Horticulture Research International
Tetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); adult male.
Adult maleTetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); adult male.©Horticulture Research International
Tetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); adult female with eggs.
TitleAdult female
CaptionTetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); adult female with eggs.
Copyright©Horticulture Research International
Tetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); adult female with eggs.
Adult femaleTetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); adult female with eggs.©Horticulture Research International
Tetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); adult female with eggs and a larva.
TitleAdult female
CaptionTetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); adult female with eggs and a larva.
Copyright©Horticulture Research International
Tetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); adult female with eggs and a larva.
Adult femaleTetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); adult female with eggs and a larva.©Horticulture Research International
Tetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); overwintering (diapausing) females around an apple calyx.
TitleDiapausing females
CaptionTetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); overwintering (diapausing) females around an apple calyx.
Copyright©Horticulture Research International
Tetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); overwintering (diapausing) females around an apple calyx.
Diapausing femalesTetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); overwintering (diapausing) females around an apple calyx.©Horticulture Research International
Tetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); speckling on a strawberry leaf.
TitleDamage symptoms
CaptionTetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); speckling on a strawberry leaf.
Copyright©Horticulture Research International
Tetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); speckling on a strawberry leaf.
Damage symptomsTetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); speckling on a strawberry leaf.©Horticulture Research International
Tetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); speckling on hop leaves.
TitleDamage symptoms
CaptionTetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); speckling on hop leaves.
Copyright©Horticulture Research International
Tetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); speckling on hop leaves.
Damage symptomsTetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); speckling on hop leaves.©Horticulture Research International
Tetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); webbing on strawberry leaves.
CaptionTetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); webbing on strawberry leaves.
Copyright©Horticulture Research International
Tetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); webbing on strawberry leaves.
WebbingTetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); webbing on strawberry leaves.©Horticulture Research International
Phytoseiulus persimilis predatory mites (orange-red individuals), in a colony of T. urticae.
TitleNatural enemy
CaptionPhytoseiulus persimilis predatory mites (orange-red individuals), in a colony of T. urticae.
Copyright©Horticulture Research International
Phytoseiulus persimilis predatory mites (orange-red individuals), in a colony of T. urticae.
Natural enemyPhytoseiulus persimilis predatory mites (orange-red individuals), in a colony of T. urticae.©Horticulture Research International


Top of page

Preferred Scientific Name

  • Tetranychus urticae Koch

Preferred Common Name

  • two-spotted spider mite

Other Scientific Names

  • Eotetranychus scabrisetus
  • Epitetranychus althaeae
  • Epitetranychus bimaculatus
  • Epitetranychus telarius
  • Paratetranychus althaeae von Hanstein
  • Tetranychus althaeae von Hanstein
  • Tetranychus bimaculatus Harvey
  • Tetranychus fragariae
  • Tetranychus manihotis
  • Tetranychus russeolus
  • Tetranychus scabrisetus
  • Tetranychus telarius *

International Common Names

  • English: glasshouse red spider mite; greenhouse red spider mite; hop red spider mite; two spotted mite; two spotted spider mite; twospotted spider mite
  • Spanish: ácaro común; arañita de las legumbres; aranuela de la patata
  • French: araignée rouge du cotonnier; l'acarien jaune commun; tétranyque à deux points; tétranyque à deux points; tétranyque commun
  • Portuguese: ácaro rajado (Brasil)

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: ácaro rajado
  • Denmark: lindespindemide; plettet væksthusspindemide; væksthusspindemide
  • Finland: lehmuspunkki; vihannespunkki
  • Germany: Spinne, Rote-; Spinnmilbe, Blatt-; Spinnmilbe, Bohnen-; Spinnmilbe, Eibisch-; Spinnmilbe, Gemeine
  • Israel: haakarit haadumu hamezuya
  • Italy: Ragnetto giallo dei giardini; Ragnetto giallo della vite e dei tiglio; Ragno rosso della vite; Ragno rosso tessitore
  • Japan: Nami-hadani
  • Netherlands: aardbeispintmijt; bonenspintmijt; cassave-mijt; kina-mijt; rode plantenspin
  • Norway: flekket veksthusspinnmide; lindespinnmidd
  • Sweden: lindspinnkvalster; växthysspinnkvalster
  • Turkey: iki benekli orumcek

EPPO code

  • TETRUR (Tetranychus urticae)

Summary of Invasiveness

Top of page T. urticae is a highly polyphagous, cosmopolitan species, which is readily spread on the wind. Under optimum conditions, it reaches a high population density, and its presence can cause a reduction in crop yield.

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Chelicerata
  •                 Class: Arachnida
  •                     Subclass: Acari
  •                         Superorder: Acariformes
  •                             Suborder: Prostigmata
  •                                 Family: Tetranychidae
  •                                     Genus: Tetranychus
  •                                         Species: Tetranychus urticae

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page Tetranychus urticae is part of a group of very similar species in the genus Tetranychus. At one time, a species complex included about 60 synonyms, each described from different hosts or from different parts of the world, the best known of which were Tetranychus telarius L., Tetranychus bimaculatus Harvey and Tetranychus altheae von Hanstein. The taxonomy of the genus Tetranychus is still problematical, but may be elucidated using molecular techniques.

The list of other names used excludes Tetranychus cinnabarinus, which may be the same species (see Similarities to Other Pests and datasheet for Tetranychus cinnabarinus). Additional synonyms are provided in Bolland et al. (1998). T. urticae is also known as the red spider mite.


Top of page Eggs

The egg is 0.13 mm in diameter, globular and translucent.


The larva is pale green and has six legs.

Nymphal stages

There are two nymphal instars, protonymph and deutonymph, with a quiescent interval between them and another between the deutonymph and adult. The nymphs are pale green with darker markings and have eight legs.


The adult female is 0.6 mm long, pale green or greenish-yellow with two darker patches on the body, which is oval with quite long hairs on the dorsal side. Overwintering females are orange-red in colour. The male has a smaller, narrower, more pointed body than the female.


Top of page T. urticae occurs in most parts of the world. It has been recorded from most countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia, the Pacific and Caribbean islands, North, Central and South America.

Other reference sources are given in Bolland et al. (1998).

Distribution Table

Top of page

The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


AfghanistanPresentIIE, 1996
ArmeniaPresentIIE, 1996
AzerbaijanPresentIIE, 1996
BangladeshPresentMir, 1990; IIE, 1996
ChinaPresentIIE, 1996
-AnhuiPresentZhang et al., 2008
-GansuPresentIIE, 1996
-GuangdongPresentIIE, 1996
-GuangxiPresentIIE, 1996
-HebeiPresentMiao et al., 2006
-HenanPresentChen et al., 1998; IIE, 1996; Jin et al., 2001
-HubeiPresentBao et al., 2001
-HunanPresentIIE, 1996
-JiangsuPresentIIE, 1996
-LiaoningPresentMiao et al., 2006
-NingxiaPresentHe et al., 2001; Miao et al., 2006
-NingxiaPresentHe et al., 2001; Miao et al., 2006
-ShaanxiPresentIIE, 1996; Chen, 2000
-ShandongPresentMing et al., 2002; IIE, 1996
-ShanghaiPresentMiao et al., 2006
-ShanxiPresentChen, 2000
-SichuanPresentIIE, 1996
-XinjiangPresentMiao et al., 2006
-YunnanPresentIIE, 1996
Georgia (Republic of)PresentIIE, 1996
IndiaPresentIIE, 1996
-Andhra PradeshPresentIIE, 1996; Rajkumar et al., 2004
-BiharPresentIIE, 1996; Rabindra-Prasad, 2003
-GujaratPresentIIE, 1996
-HaryanaPresentIIE, 1996
-Himachal PradeshPresentMeena-Thakur et al., 2004; Rajpal and Joshi, 2003; Rajpal et al., 2004
-Indian PunjabPresentJyotika Kapur-Ghai & Bhullar, 2003
-Jammu and KashmirPresentIIE, 1996
-JharkhandPresentRabindra et al., 2006
-KarnatakaPresentIIE, 1996; Rajkumar et al., 2005; Girish et al., 2014
-KeralaPresentIIE, 1996
-Madhya PradeshPresentSingh et al., 1990
-MaharashtraPresentIIE, 1996; Akashe, 2004
-SikkimPresentNagrare and Rampal, 2008
-Tamil NaduPresentIIE, 1996; Saranya et al., 2013
-Uttar PradeshPresentIIE, 1996
-West BengalPresentIIE, 1996; Ghoshal et al., 2004; Lahiri et al., 2005
IndonesiaPresentWaterhouse, 1993
IranPresentIIE, 1996
IraqPresentIIE, 1996
IsraelPresentIIE, 1996
JapanPresentIIE, 1996
JordanPresentIIE, 1996
KazakhstanPresentIIE, 1996
Korea, Republic ofPresentIIE, 1996
KyrgyzstanPresentIIE, 1996
LebanonPresentIIE, 1996; Rubeiz et al., 1997; Bayan, 1998
MalaysiaPresentWaterhouse, 1993
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentIIE, 1996
PakistanPresentIIE, 1996
PhilippinesPresentWaterhouse, 1993; IIE, 1996
Saudi ArabiaPresentElmoghazy, 2016
SingaporePresentWaterhouse, 1993
Sri LankaPresentWahundeniya et al., 2005
TaiwanPresentIIE, 1996
TajikistanPresentIIE, 1996
ThailandPresentWaterhouse, 1993; IIE, 1996
TurkeyPresentIIE, 1996
TurkmenistanPresentIIE, 1996
UzbekistanPresentIIE, 1996
VietnamPresentWaterhouse, 1993; IIE, 1996
YemenPresentKnapp, 1997


BeninPresentAdango et al., 2006
Congo Democratic RepublicPresentIIE, 1996
EgyptPresentIIE, 1996
KenyaPresentIIE, 1996
LibyaPresentIIE, 1996
MadagascarPresentIIE, 1996
MalawiPresentIIE, 1996
MauritaniaPresentIIE, 1996
MoroccoPresentIIE, 1996
MozambiquePresentIIE, 1996
RéunionPresentIIE, 1996
Saint HelenaPresentIIE, 1996
SenegalPresentIIE, 1996
Sierra LeonePresentIIE, 1996
South AfricaPresentIIE, 1996
-Canary IslandsPresentIIE, 1996
SudanPresentIIE, 1996
SwazilandIIE, 1996
TanzaniaIIE, 1996
TunisiaPresentIIE, 1996
UgandaIIE, 1996
ZambiaPresentIIE, 1996
ZimbabwePresentIIE, 1996

North America

CanadaPresentIIE, 1996
-British ColumbiaPresentIIE, 1996
-New BrunswickIIE, 1996
-Nova ScotiaPresentIIE, 1996
-OntarioPresentIIE, 1996
-QuebecPresentIIE, 1996
MexicoPresentIIE, 1996
USAPresentIIE, 1996
-ArizonaIIE, 1996
-ArkansasPresentKharboutli et al., 2000
-CaliforniaPresentIIE, 1996
-FloridaPresentIIE, 1996
-GeorgiaPresentIIE, 1996
-HawaiiIIE, 1996
-IdahoPresentGardiner et al., 2003
-IndianaPresentIIE, 1996
-IowaPresentIIE, 1996
-KansasPresentIIE, 1996
-KentuckyIIE, 1996
-LouisianaIIE, 1996
-MarylandIIE, 1996
-MassachusettsPresentIIE, 1996
-MichiganPresentIIE, 1996
-MinnesotaPresentWold and Hutchison, 2003
-MississippiPresentIIE, 1996
-MissouriIIE, 1996
-NebraskaIIE, 1996
-New JerseyPresentIIE, 1996
-New YorkPresentIIE, 1996
-North CarolinaPresentIIE, 1996
-OhioPresentIIE, 1996
-OklahomaPresentIIE, 1996
-OregonPresentIIE, 1996
-PennsylvaniaPresentIIE, 1996
-TennesseePresentLancaster et al., 2002
-TexasPresentIIE, 1996
-UtahPresentIIE, 1996
-VirginiaPresentIIE, 1996
-WashingtonPresentIIE, 1996
-West VirginiaIIE, 1996
-WisconsinIIE, 1996

Central America and Caribbean

Costa RicaPresentIIE, 1996; Aguilar and Murillo, 2012
CubaPresentIIE, 1996
GuadeloupePresentFlechtmann and Etienne, 2006
Windward IslandsPresentIIE, 1996

South America

ArgentinaPresentIIE, 1996
BrazilPresentIIE, 1996
-BahiaIIE, 1996
-CearaIIE, 1996
-Espirito SantoPresentChagas et al., 2001
-Mato Grosso do SulIIE, 1996
-Minas GeraisIIE, 1996; Soares et al., 2012
-ParanaIIE, 1996
-Rio Grande do NortePresentRoggia et al., 2009
-Rio Grande do SulPresentRoggia et al., 2008
-Santa CatarinaPresentMonteiro et al., 2002
-Sao PauloPresentIIE, 1996
ChilePresentIIE, 1996
ColombiaPresentIIE, 1996
GuyanaIIE, 1996
SurinameIIE, 1996
VenezuelaPresentGonzalez and Viloria, 1991; IIE, 1996


AlbaniaPresentBalliu and Cota, 2007
AustriaPresentIIE, 1996
BelarusPresentIIE, 1996
BelgiumPresentIIE, 1996
Bosnia-HercegovinaPresentKohnic et al., 2006
BulgariaPresentIIE, 1996
CroatiaPresentMilek and Masten, 2009
CyprusPresentIIE, 1996
Czech RepublicPresentIIE, 1996
DenmarkPresentIIE, 1996
EstoniaPresentIIE, 1996
FinlandPresentIIE, 1996
Former USSRPresentIIE, 1996
FrancePresentIIE, 1996
GermanyPresentIIE, 1996
GreecePresentIIE, 1996
-CretePresentIIE, 1996
HungaryPresentIIE, 1996
IrelandPresentLola-Luz et al., 2003
ItalyPresentIIE, 1996
-SardiniaPresentDelrio et al., 1989; IIE, 1996
-SicilyPresentIIE, 1996
LatviaPresentIIE, 1996
LithuaniaPresentIIE, 1996
MaltaPresentMifsud, 1997
MoldovaPresentIIE, 1996
MontenegroPresentRadonjic and Hrncic, 2011
NetherlandsPresentIIE, 1996
NorwayPresentIIE, 1996
PolandPresentIIE, 1996
RomaniaPresentIIE, 1996
Russian FederationPresentIIE, 1996
-Eastern SiberiaPresentIIE, 1996
-Russian Far EastPresentIIE, 1996
SerbiaPresentMilenkovic and Stanisavljevic, 2003
SlovakiaPresentBarok and Markovic, 2000
SloveniaPresentIIE, 1996; Milevoj and Osvald, 1996
SpainPresentIIE, 1996
SwedenPresentIIE, 1996
SwitzerlandPresentIIE, 1996
UKPresentIIE, 1996
-England and WalesPresentDewar et al., 2000
UkrainePresentIIE, 1996
Yugoslavia (former)PresentIIE, 1996


AustraliaPresentIIE, 1996
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresentYoung and Zhang, 2001; Brown, 2003
-New South WalesPresentIIE, 1996
-QueenslandPresentIIE, 1996
-South AustraliaPresentIIE, 1996
-TasmaniaPresentIIE, 1996
-VictoriaPresentIIE, 1996
-Western AustraliaPresentIIE, 1996
New CaledoniaPresentIIE, 1996
New ZealandPresentIIE, 1996
Papua New GuineaPresentIIE, 1996
Solomon IslandsIIE, 1996

Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page T. urticae has a very wide host range. It includes many crops grown in glasshouses such as tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers and flowers such as chrysanthemums and orchids. It is also a problem on protected and unprotected strawberries. In some areas it is a problem on field-grown fruit crops such as apples, pears and on grapevines. Other important crops that are infested include cotton, soyabeans and other legumes. This mite can also live on many non-crop hosts, which can provide a source of infestation. A more exhaustive list of hosts is given by Bolland et al. (1998).

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

Top of page
Plant nameFamilyContext
Abelmoschus esculentus (okra)MalvaceaeMain
Achillea millefolium (yarrow)AsteraceaeOther
Actinidia chinensis (Chinese gooseberry)ActinidiaceaeUnknown
Ageratum conyzoides (billy goat weed)AsteraceaeUnknown
Ageratum houstonianum (Blue billygoatweed)AsteraceaeUnknown
Allium cepa (onion)LiliaceaeOther
Allium sativum (garlic)LiliaceaeUnknown
Arachis hypogaea (groundnut)FabaceaeUnknown
Arracacia xanthorrhiza (arracacha)ApiaceaeUnknown
Asparagus officinalis (asparagus)LiliaceaeUnknown
Averrhoa carambola (carambola)OxalidaceaeUnknown
Beta vulgaris (beetroot)ChenopodiaceaeOther
Callistephus chinensis (China aster)AsteraceaeUnknown
Camellia sinensis (tea)TheaceaeUnknown
Capsicum (peppers)SolanaceaeUnknown
Capsicum annuum (bell pepper)SolanaceaeUnknown
Carica papaya (pawpaw)CaricaceaeUnknown
Catharanthus roseus (Madagascar periwinkle)ApocynaceaeOther
Chromolaena odorata (Siam weed)AsteraceaeUnknown
Chrysanthemum (daisy)AsteraceaeUnknown
Chrysanthemum indicum (chrysanthemum)AsteraceaeOther
Citrullus lanatus (watermelon)CucurbitaceaeOther
Citrus limon (lemon)RutaceaeUnknown
Citrus sinensis (navel orange)RutaceaeUnknown
Convolvulus arvensis (bindweed)ConvolvulaceaeUnknown
Cucumis melo (melon)CucurbitaceaeOther
Cucumis sativus (cucumber)CucurbitaceaeUnknown
Cucurbita moschata (pumpkin)CucurbitaceaeOther
Cucurbita pepo (marrow)CucurbitaceaeOther
Cucurbitaceae (cucurbits)CucurbitaceaeOther
Dahlia pinnata (garden dahlia)AsteraceaeUnknown
Dianthus caryophyllus (carnation)CaryophyllaceaeMain
Diospyros (malabar ebony)EbenaceaeUnknown
Elettaria cardamomum (cardamom)ZingiberaceaeOther
Enterolobium cyclocarpum (ear pod tree)FabaceaeOther
Euonymus alatus (winged spindle)CelastraceaeUnknown
Euphorbia pulcherrima (poinsettia)EuphorbiaceaeMain
Fabaceae (leguminous plants)FabaceaeMain
Ficus carica (common fig)MoraceaeMain
Fragaria (strawberry)RosaceaeUnknown
Fragaria ananassa (strawberry)RosaceaeMain
Gerbera (Barbeton daisy)AsteraceaeUnknown
Gerbera jamesonii (African daisy)AsteraceaeUnknown
Glycine max (soyabean)FabaceaeMain
Gossypium (cotton)MalvaceaeMain
Gypsophila (baby's breath)CaryophyllaceaeMain
Hedera helix (ivy)AraliaceaeUnknown
Humulus lupulus (hop)CannabaceaeMain
Ilex crenata (Japanese holly)AquifoliaceaeUnknown
Impatiens (balsam)BalsaminaceaeUnknown
Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato)ConvolvulaceaeOther
Lactuca sativa (lettuce)AsteraceaeUnknown
Malus domestica (apple)RosaceaeMain
Manihot esculenta (cassava)EuphorbiaceaeMain
Medicago sativa (lucerne)FabaceaeMain
Mentha (mints)LamiaceaeUnknown
Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco)SolanaceaeUnknown
Orchidaceae (orchids)OrchidaceaeOther
Oryza sativa (rice)PoaceaeUnknown
Papaver orientale (Oriental poppy)PapaveraceaeUnknown
Pelargonium (pelargoniums)GeraniaceaeOther
Phaseolus (beans)FabaceaeUnknown
Phaseolus vulgaris (common bean)FabaceaeUnknown
Phoenix dactylifera (date-palm)ArecaceaeOther
Prunus avium (sweet cherry)RosaceaeUnknown
Prunus cerasus (sour cherry)RosaceaeUnknown
Prunus domestica (plum)RosaceaeOther
Prunus dulcis (almond)RosaceaeOther
Prunus persica (peach)RosaceaeMain
Prunus salicina (Japanese plum)RosaceaeMain
Pueraria montana var. lobata (kudzu)FabaceaeUnknown
Pyrus communis (European pear)RosaceaeUnknown
Rhododendron (Azalea)EricaceaeUnknown
Ribes nigrum (blackcurrant)GrossulariaceaeMain
Ribes rubrum (red currant)GrossulariaceaeUnknown
Ricinus communis (castor bean)EuphorbiaceaeUnknown
Rosa (roses)RosaceaeMain
Rosa chinensis (China rose)RosaceaeUnknown
Rubus idaeus (raspberry)RosaceaeMain
Rubus loganobaccus (loganberry)RosaceaeMain
Salvia splendens (scarlet sage)LamiaceaeUnknown
Sechium edule (chayote)CucurbitaceaeUnknown
Sesamum indicum (sesame)PedaliaceaeUnknown
Solanum lycopersicum (tomato)SolanaceaeMain
Solanum melongena (aubergine)SolanaceaeMain
Sorghum bicolor (sorghum)PoaceaeUnknown
Stachys arvensis (staggerweed)LamiaceaeUnknown
Terminalia catappa (Singapore almond)CombretaceaeOther
Tilia cordata (small-leaf lime)TiliaceaeUnknown
Trifolium repens (white clover)FabaceaeUnknown
Trifolium vesiculosum (Arrowleaf clover)FabaceaeUnknown
Vicia faba (faba bean)FabaceaeUnknown
Vicia sativa (common vetch)FabaceaeUnknown
Vigna angularis (adzuki bean)FabaceaeUnknown
Vigna radiata (mung bean)FabaceaeUnknown
Vigna unguiculata (cowpea)FabaceaeUnknown
Viola odorata (English violet)ViolaceaeUnknown
Vitis vinifera (grapevine)VitaceaeMain
Withania somnifera (poisonous gooseberry)SolanaceaeOther
Zantedeschia aethiopica (calla lily)AraceaeUnknown
Zea mays (maize)PoaceaeUnknown
Zea mays subsp. mays (sweetcorn)PoaceaeMain

Growth Stages

Top of page Post-harvest


Top of page Feeding by T. urticae causes pale spots to appear on leaves. As infestations become more severe, leaves appear bronzed or silvery, become brittle, and may fall prematurely. Plants can be killed quite rapidly by this mite.

The mites spin webbing, which can cover all the surfaces of the plant.

List of Symptoms/Signs

Top of page
SignLife StagesType
Leaves / abnormal colours
Leaves / abnormal leaf fall
Leaves / webbing

Biology and Ecology

Top of page Genetics

Important economic species of Tetranychidae tend to have a chromosome number of n = 3 (Hussey and Huffaker, 1976). See Overmeer and Harrison (1969) and Mitchell (1972) for reports on genetic variation with respect to factors controlling the sex ratio of T. urticae. Refer to Hussey and Huffaker (1976), and references therein, for further information on the genetics of spider mites.

Physiology and phenology

T. urticae has an overwintering or diapause form of the adult female that is initiated by short photoperiod, decreased temperature and unfavourable food supply. The overwintering females stop feeding and egg laying and leave their host plants to hibernate in cracks and crevices in protected places, such as the soil or glasshouse structures. They resume activity in the spring when they lay eggs on leaves. These mites also produce copious amounts of webbing.

Reproductive biology

The development of the mite is rapid, particularly at high temperatures. At 30-32°C, which is the optimum temperature for development, the egg stage lasts 3-5 days, the larval/nymphal stages 4-5 days, and with a pre-oviposition period of 1-2 days, the total life cycle takes only 8-12 days. Each female can lay an average of 90-110 eggs during a lifetime of about 30 days, therefore numbers of mites can increase very rapidly during the summer, or under glass or plastic.

There is much additional information available on cytology and sex determination, mating behaviour, sex ratio, genetics, etc. Much of this information is reviewed in the chapters by various authors in the volumes on spider mites edited by Helle and Sabelis (1995a, b).

Natural enemies

Top of page
Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Acaropsellina sollers Predator Adults/Nymphs
Aegyptocheyla summersi Predator Adults/Nymphs
Aeolothrips intermedius Predator Adults/Nymphs Italy maize; soyabeans
Agistemus cyprius Predator Adults/Nymphs
Agistemus exsertus Predator Adults/Nymphs Egypt
Allothrombium pulvinus Parasite
Amblydromella denmarki Predator Adults/Nymphs
Amblydromella rhenanoides Predator Adults/Nymphs Italy Acer campestre
Amblyseiella setosa Predator Adults/Nymphs
Amblyseius addoensis Predator Adults/Nymphs
Amblyseius agrestis Predator Adults/Nymphs
Amblyseius andersoni Predator Adults/Nymphs Belgium; Ukraine
Amblyseius barkeri Predator Adults/Nymphs Italy soyabeans; Urtica dioica
Amblyseius bibens Predator Adults/Nymphs
Amblyseius bicaudus Predator Adults/Nymphs Italy maize; soyabeans
Amblyseius degenerans Predator
Amblyseius eharai Predator Adults/Nymphs
Amblyseius herbarius Predator Adults/Nymphs Italy soyabeans; Urtica dioica
Amblyseius herbicolus Predator Adults/Nymphs Japan
Amblyseius idaeus Predator Adults/Nymphs Sao Paulo
Amblyseius largoensis Predator Adults/Nymphs
Amblyseius limonicus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Amblyseius mckenziei Predator Adults/Nymphs USSR
Amblyseius neolentiginosus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Amblyseius nicholsi Predator
Amblyseius obtusus Predator Adults/Nymphs Italy Urtica dioica
Amblyseius olivi Predator Adults/Nymphs
Amblyseius paraki Predator Adults/Nymphs
Amblyseius potentillae Predator Adults/Nymphs Italy Lonicera; maize
Amblyseius potentillae Predator Adults/Nymphs
Amblyseius pseudolongispinosus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Amblyseius rademacheri Predator Adults/Nymphs Italy soyabeans; Urtica dioica
Amblyseius reductus Predator Adults/Nymphs Ukraine; USSR
Amblyseius sessor Predator Adults/Nymphs
Amblyseius swirskii Predator Adults/Nymphs
Amblyseius victoriensis Predator Adults/Nymphs Australia; New South Wales peachs
Amblyseius vignus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Anthoseius caudiglans Predator Adults/Nymphs
Anystis baccarum Predator Adults/Nymphs
Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki Pathogen
Bacillus thuringiensis thuringiensis Pathogen
Balaustium putmani Predator Adults/Nymphs
Beauveria bassiana Pathogen Jeyarani et al., 2011
Campylomma diversicornis Predator Adults/Nymphs
Campylomma verbasci Predator Adults/Nymphs
Cardiastethus nazarenus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Cheiracanthium mildei Predator Adults/Nymphs
Cheletogenes ornatus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Chernes cimicoides Predator Adults/Nymphs
Chrysopa orestes Predator Adults/Nymphs
Chrysoperla carnea Predator Adults/Nymphs Canada; Ontario; Italy maize; peaches; soyabeans
Conidiobolus obscurus Pathogen
Conidiobolus thromboides Pathogen
Coniopteryx esbenpeterseni Predator Adults/Nymphs
Conwentzia psociformis Predator Adults/Nymphs
Cunliffella panamensis Predator Adults/Nymphs
Deraeocoris fasciolus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Deraeocoris punctulatus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Dictyna consulta Predator Adults/Nymphs
Erynia radicans Pathogen
Eupeodes corollae Predator Adults/Nymphs
Euseius concordis Predator Adults/Nymphs
Euseius fustis Predator Adults/Nymphs
Euseius gossipi Predator Adults/Nymphs
Euseius gossipi Predator Adults/Nymphs Egypt
Euseius mesembrinus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Euseius scutalis Predator Adults/Nymphs
Euseius stipulatus Predator Adults/Nymphs Italy soyabeans; Urtica dioica
Feltiella acarivora Predator Adults/Nymphs
Feltiella macgregori Predator Adults/Nymphs
Frankliniella occidentalis Predator Adults/Nymphs
Frankliniella schultzei Predator
Galendromus annectens Predator Adults/Nymphs
Galendromus helveolus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Geocoris pallens Predator Adults/Nymphs
Geocoris punctipes Predator Adults/Nymphs
Haplothrips victoriensis Predator Adults/Nymphs Australia; South Australia Medicago sativa
Hemicheyletia bakeri Predator Adults/Nymphs
Hirsutella thompsonii Pathogen Adults/Nymphs
Holobus minutus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Holoparasitus caesus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Holoparasitus pseudoperforatus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Hyaliodes vitripennis Predator Adults/Nymphs
Hypoaspis aculeifer Parasite
Kampimodromus aberrans Predator Adults/Nymphs Switzerland
Lasioseius scapulatus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Macrolophus caliginosus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Macrolophus nubilus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Metaseiulus occidentalis Predator
Micromus angulatus Predator Adults/Nymphs Italy maize; soyabeans
Micromus tasmaniae Predator Adults/Nymphs
Mycosphaerella tassiana Pathogen Jeyarani et al., 2011
Nabis kinbergii Predator Adults/Nymphs
Nabis palifer Predator Adults/Nymphs
Neoseiulella aceri Predator Adults/Nymphs Italy Acer campestre
Neoseiulella tiliarum Predator Adults/Nymphs
Neoseiulus alpinus Predator
Neoseiulus anonymus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Neoseiulus californicus Predator Eggs/Nymphs
Neoseiulus chilenensis Predator Adults/Nymphs
Neoseiulus cucumeris Predator
Neoseiulus fallacis Predator
Neoseiulus longispinosus Predator Adults/Nymphs Japan
Neoseiulus setulus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Neoseiulus teke Predator Adults/Nymphs
Neozygites adjarica Pathogen
Neozygites floridana Pathogen
Neozygites na Pathogen
Oligota flavicornis Predator Adults/Nymphs Italy Acer campestre; Carpinus betulus
Oligota kashmirica Predator Adults/Nymphs
Oligota kashmirica benefica Predator Adults/Nymphs
Oligota oviformis Predator Adults/Nymphs
Oligota pygmaea Predator Adults/Nymphs
Oligota yasumatsui Predator Adults/Nymphs
Orius albidipennis Predator Adults/Nymphs
Orius insidiosus Predator Adults/Nymphs USA; Virginia apples
Orius majusculus Predator Adults/Nymphs Italy Acer campestre; Carpinus betulus
Orius minutus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Orius niger Predator Adults/Nymphs
Orius sauteri Predator Adults/Nymphs
Orius tristicolor Predator Adults/Nymphs
Orius vicinus Predator Adults/Nymphs Italy Acer campestre; Carpinus betulus
Phalangium opilio Predator Adults/Nymphs
Phoenicocoris minusculus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Phytoseiulus fallacis Predator Adults/Nymphs
Phytoseiulus longipes Predator Adults/Nymphs Egypt
Phytoseiulus macropilis Predator Adults/Nymphs Florida; Sao Paulo
Phytoseiulus persimilis Predator Adults/Nymphs Australia; Australia; Queensland; Australia; South Australia; Australia; Tasmania; Australia; Victoria; Belgium; British Columbia; Bulgaria; California; China; Beijing; China; Shanghai; Czechoslovakia; Denmark; Finland; Florida; France; Germany; India; Irish Republic; Italy; Japan; Latvia; Moldova; Netherlands; New Caledonia; New Zealand; Norway; Ohio; Poland; Romania; Sweden; Switzerland; Taiwan; Tunisia; UK; USA; Texas; USSR; Washington; Egypt Ageratum conyzoides; Dahlia pinnata; hops; maize; Medicago sativa; Pelargonium lateripes; raspberries; Rosa chinensis; roses; Salvia splendens; strawberries; tomatoes; Zantedeschia aethiopica
Phytoseius domesticus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Phytoseius finitimus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Phytoseius fotheringhamiae Predator Adults/Nymphs
Phytoseius hawaiiensis Predator Adults/Nymphs
Phytoseius plumifer Predator Adults/Nymphs
Propriorseiopsis messor Predator Adults/Nymphs
Proprioseiopsis jugortus Predator
Proprioseiopsis rotundus Predator
Scolothrips acariphagus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Scolothrips longicornis Predator Adults/Nymphs
Scolothrips sexmaculatus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Scolothrips takahashii Predator Adults/Nymphs
Scymnus gracilis Predator Adults/Nymphs
Scymnus interruptus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Scymnus rubromaculatus Predator Adults/Nymphs Italy Acer campestre; Carpinus betulus
Scymnus rufipes Predator Adults/Nymphs Italy Acer campestre; Carpinus betulus
Seiulus finlandicus Predator Adults/Nymphs Italy Carpinus betulus; Ligustrum
Stethorus bifidus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Stethorus fenestralis Predator Adults/Nymphs
Stethorus histrio Predator Adults/Nymphs Chile Phaseolus vulgaris; Ricinus communis
Stethorus loi Predator Adults/Nymphs Taiwan Averrhoa carambola
Stethorus nigripes Predator Adults/Nymphs Australia; South Australia Medicago sativa
Stethorus parapauperculus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Stethorus punctillum Predator Adults/Nymphs France; Italy Acer campestre; Carpinus betulus; maize
Stethorus punctum Predator Adults/Nymphs Pennsylvania
Stethorus punctum picipes Predator Adults/Nymphs Canada; British Columbia strawberries
Stethorus siphonulus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Tapinoma melanocephalum Predator
Therodiplosis persicae Predator
Thrips imaginis Predator
Typhlodromalus macrosetosus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Typhlodromus athiasae Predator Adults/Nymphs Israel apples
Typhlodromus baccettii Predator Adults/Nymphs
Typhlodromus exhilaratus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Typhlodromus italicus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Typhlodromus longipilus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Typhlodromus negevi Predator Adults/Nymphs
Typhlodromus phialatus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Typhlodromus porresi Predator Adults/Nymphs
Typhlodromus pyri Predator Adults/Nymphs Australia; Switzerland; Tasmania; UK; Czech Republic
Zetzellia graeciana Predator Adults/Nymphs
Zetzellia mali Predator Adults/Nymphs

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page At each separate locality there is a complex of local predators, hence lists of natural enemies are long and of limited value in other locations. The most effective natural enemies of T. urticae are predatory mites from the family Phytoseiidae. These mites, belonging to a number of genera, such as Amblyseius, Euseius, Neoseiulus and Phytoseius, have been shown to regulate populations of T. urticae on a range of crops. Phytoseiulus persimilis successfully controls the mite in greenhouses. It is also sometimes useful outdoors and has been released into the field; usually augmentative releases are required to maintain control.

Species of Stethorus, a group of small ladybird beetles (Coccinellidae), are also important predators of spider mites. Other useful predators include anthocorids (mainly Orius spp.), larvae of chrysopids, thrips (e.g. Scolothrips spp.), staphylinids (e.g. Oligota spp.), and larvae of cecidomyiid midges, in particular Feltiella acarisuga (=Therodiplosis persicae).

Epidemics of fungal disease sometimes occur, particularly in warm, humid conditions. These epidemics are usually caused by Neozygites spp.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

Top of page T. urticae disperses by active walking or by passive transport in the wind and on plants, tools and people (Zhang, 2003). Phoretic dispersal of T. urticae mediated by winged insects is thought to be rare in the wild (Yano, 2004).

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Clothing, footwear and possessions Yes

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Flowers/Inflorescences/Cones/Calyx adults; eggs; nymphs Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Fruits (inc. pods) adults; eggs; nymphs Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Growing medium accompanying plants adults; eggs; nymphs Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Leaves adults; eggs; nymphs Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants adults; eggs; nymphs Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches adults; eggs; nymphs Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
True seeds (inc. grain)

Impact Summary

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Animal/plant collections Negative
Animal/plant products Negative
Biodiversity (generally) None
Crop production Negative
Environment (generally) Negative
Fisheries / aquaculture None
Forestry production None
Human health Negative
Livestock production None
Native fauna None
Native flora Negative
Rare/protected species None
Tourism None
Trade/international relations None
Transport/travel None


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During feeding the mites penetrate the plant foliage/leaves with their mouth stylets and suck out the cell contents. On strawberry, low populations of T. urticae mainly damage the spongy mesophyll tissue but higher densities increase the area of damage and injury to the palisade parenchyma occurs (Sances et al., 1979; Kielkiewicz and Van de Vrie, 1983). The function of the stomatal apparatus is also affected, so that the stomata remain closed.

The result of this damage to leaf tissue is reduced chlorophyll content and reduced photosynthesis, carbon dioxide assimilation and transpiration. Such effects have been shown for cotton (Bondana et al., 1995), tomato (Nihoul et al., 1992), apple and peach (Mobley and Marini, 1990), and strawberry (Sances et al., 1982).

Crop yields are diminished as essential plant processes are affected. This has been demonstrated on maize (Archer and Bynum, 1993), strawberry (Oatman et al., 1982), pear (McNab and Jerie, 1993), cotton (Wilson, 1993), soyabean (Singh, 1988; Suekane et al., 2012) and grapevine (Hluchy and Pospisil, 1992), among others.

The mites feed directly on tomato fruit, causing gold fleck (discolouration of the fruit), which could have a negative impact on the marketability of the fruit (Meck et al., 2012).

Nyoike and Liburd (2013) studied the impact of the mites on the marketable yield of field grown strawberries in Florida and reported that yield reduction in strawberry was detected when plants had 80 mites per leaf in the 2008/2009 growing season, and 50 mites per leaf in the 2009/2010 growing season. Results like this can be used to determine the timing of control programmes, ensuring maximum yields are attained.

The timing of mite infestation has also been shown to have an impact. For example, Gore et al. (2013) reported that early infestations of T. urticae on cotton in mid-southern USA caused the highest impact on yield (compared with later infestations).

Detection and Inspection

Top of page Severely infested plants can be recognized by speckling and bronzing of the leaves and the presence of webbing. However, it is important to detect infestations before they reach this stage by examining the leaves, with a hand lens or under a microscope, to reveal the mites. Some sampling schemes have been developed that use the presence or absence of mites on a sample of leaves, to reduce the time spent counting (Raworth, 1986; Butcher et al., 1987).

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page Several species of Tetranychus look similar to T. urticae, and have similar biology. Some of the morphological differences between Tetranychus species were described by Boudreaux and Dosse (1963). However, it is difficult to separate some of these species and, more recently, new biochemical and molecular techniques have been used to try and distinguish between them. Enohara and Amano (1996) studied six species of Tetranychus common in Japan, which are difficult to separate: T. urticae, T. kanzawai, T. phaselus, T. ludeni, T. viennensis and T. piercis. They found that esterase patterns showed species specific characteristics and that the morphological characters of the adult females could also be used to distinguish between species. Goka and Takafuji (1997) used polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis to study the differences between two enzymes among seven species of Tetranychus and concluded that these enzymes could be useful markers for classification. Navajas et al. (1997) used nucleotide sequence variation and morphological characters to study the evolutionary relationships among nine tetranychid mite species.

The relationship/conspecificity with Tetranychus cinnabarinus is still problematical: molecular techniques seem to show them as conspecifics, for example, Gotoh and Tokioka (1996). More recently, Zhang and Jacobson (2000) reported on the use of adult female morphological characters to differentiate between T. urticae and T. cinnabarinus. They stated that T. cinnabarinus could be readily separated from T. urticae by variation in the number of setae on tibia I in females.

Prevention and Control

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Biological Control

T. urticae has been the subject of some of the most successful examples of biological control. The predator used most often has been the phytoseiid mite Phytoseiulus persimilis. This species was first used in glasshouses, on various crops, in the 1960s (for example, Hussey et al., 1965), and since then has been used successfully on a wide variety of crops in a range of protected and unprotected environments. Several biological control companies package this predator for distribution on to plants by growers. Suitable release rates and timings vary with the crop. In areas where the mite has been established, augmentative releases are required to maintain control.

However, P. persimilis is active only under a limited range of conditions (Gorski and Eajfer, 2003), and so other species of phytoseiid mite have also been used against T. urticae. For example, Amblyseius idaeus and Phytoseiulus macropilis have been used on strawberry and cucumber in Brazil (Watanabe et al., 1994). Metwally et al. (2005) investigated life table and prey consumption of the predatory mite Neoseiulus cynodactylon, and concluded that T. urticae was a profitable prey species of this phytoseiid as a facultative predator.

Predators from other insect families have also shown promise as biocontrol agents against T. urticae. For example, the chrysopid Mallada basalis has been used on strawberry in Taiwan (Tzeng and Kao, 1996). Yanagita et al. (2014) reported that the predatory thrip Scolothrips takahashii could be used as an effective control agent against T. urticae in integrated pest management programmes for strawberry plug plants. Other potential predatory biocontrol agents include Orius minutus (Fathi, 2013), Coccinellla septempunctata (Sirvi and Singh, 2014), Stethorus gilvifrons (Ahmad et al., 2010) and Stethorus punctillum (Gorski and Eajfer, 2003).

Neoseiulus californicus has shown promise as an agent in conservation biological control of T. urticae; the natural control of the mite in strawberries was used as the basis for developing an integrated management plan, using acaricide only when necessary (Greco et al., 2011).

Shivaprakash et al. (2004) reported on the natural occurrence of the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana on T. urticae in an okra plot grown without the use of chemicals in Bangalore, Karnataka, India. Laboratory tests using entomopathogens against T. urticae have also been carried out (e.g. Simova and Draganova, 2003; Chandler et al., 2005).

Host-Plant Resistance

Research to find sources of resistance to T. urticae has been carried out on a variety of crops, including Impatiens (Al-Abbasi and Weigle, 1982), soyabean (Mohammad and Rodriguez, 1985), Pelargonium (Chang et al., 1972), cucumber (de Ponti, 1980), Vigna angularis (Aguilar et al., 1996), strawberry (Shanks and Moore, 1995; Easterbrook and Simpson, 1998; Olbricht et al., 2014), watermelon (Lopez et al., 2005; El-Saiedy et al., 2011), maize (Mead et al., 2010), tomato (e.g. Saeidi and Mallik, 2012) and citrus (Agut et al., 2014). Several studies have found differences in susceptibility to the mite between different cultivars or selections. However, the resistance may be polygenic in most cases (Easterbrook and Simpson, 1998), and so is difficult to exploit by plant breeders. Even partial resistance is potentially useful in IPM programmes, however, as it slows the rate of population increase of the spider mite, and so makes it easier for predators to gain control.

Mechanisms of host-plant resistance to T. urticae have been attributed to flavonoid pathways in citrus (Agut et al., 2014), leaf trichomes on Fragaria (Olbricht et al., 2014) (shown to entrap mites on tomato [Saeidi and Mallik, 2012]), increased peroxidase and polyphenol oxidase activity in melon (Shoorooei et al., 2013), antibiosis and antixenosis in bean (Kamelmanesh et al., 2010), phytochemical compounds in watermelon, where El-Saiedy et al. (2011) reported a negative relationship between mite infestation and tannins, and nitrogen and protein content in maize leaves (Mead et al., 2010).

Chemical Control

T. urticae is very difficult to control with acaricides because most populations developed resistance to chemical groups after a few years of use (Cranham and Helle, 1985). In some cases, cross-resistance to other chemical groups has also developed. For example, resistance to the ovicide clofentezine developed quite rapidly, and cross-resistance to hexythiazox also occurred (Thwaite, 1991). Al-Jboory et al. (2004) reported that a bromopropylate-resistant strain (R) of T. urticae showed strong positive cross-resistance towards dicofol and a mixture of dicofol and tetradifon, moderate positive cross-resistance towards amitraz, and low negative cross-resistance towards chlorpyrifos. No cross-resistance was observed towards abamectin and dinobuton.

Later, control often relied on acaricides from a group that act as inhibitors of mitochondrial respiration in the mite (METIs), such as pyridaben, fenpyroximate, fenazaquin and tebufenpyrad. However, resistance was detected in a relatively short space of time, leading to decreased susceptibility to all the compounds in this group (Bylemans and Meurrens, 1997). This illustrates the importance of anti-resistance strategies, involving restricted acaricide use and rotation of acaricides from different chemical groups, such as that proposed for fruit crops by the Insecticide Resistance Action Committee (IRAC) (Wege and Leonard, 1994).

Increased resistance to acaricides has led to research into alternative sources for control, such as fatty acid derivatives (Silva-Flores et al., 2005), sugar esters (Puterka et al., 2003), plant extracts, including essential oils (e.g. Kawka and Tomczyk, 2002; Mateeva et al., 2003; Aslan et al., 2004, 2005; Hou et al., 2004; Kawka, 2004), such as Elettaria cardamomum (Fatemikia et al., 2014), and botanical insecticides derived from the neem tree (Azadirachta indica) (Pavela, 2003). Of various plant extracts tested for acaricidal activity against T. urticae in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, Mateeva et al. (2003) reported that thornapple (Datura stramonium), wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) and basil (Ocimum basilicum) were toxic to the active stages of this pest. It was stated that extracts of these species could be used to control T. urticae on rose in urban areas. Saber (2004) reported that ethanol extracts of sand wormwood (Artemisia monosperma) were least effective against females of T. urticae compared to petroleum ether, chloroform or ethyl acetate. The acaricidal activity of Australian Lamiaceae extracts has also been tested against T. urticae with varying results (Rasikari et al., 2005). Extracts from the subfamilies Ajugoideae, Scutellarioideae, Chloanthoideae, Viticoideae and Nepetoideae showed acaricidal activity, and 14 species of Plectranthus showed moderate to high contact toxicity against T. urticae. Methanol extracts of Cinnamomum species (family Lauraceae) are potential acaricides (Reddy et al., 2014).

Commercially available Bionatrol (specified emulsion nano-particle soyabean oil) was shown to reduce populations of T. urticae, aphids (Aphis gossypii) and whiteflies (Trialeurodes vaporariorum) on greenhouse-grown English cucumber (Cucumis subsp. kasa) by 88-95% (Lee et al., 2005).

Integrated Pest Management

Management of T. urticae forms an integral part of IPM programmes for many crops. It is important that pesticides used for other pests and diseases are chosen so that they cause minimal disruption to naturally occurring predators or biocontrol agents such as Phytoseiulus persimilis. Also, control agents applied against the same pest must also be chosen carefully so that they do not disrupt each other. Thus, even though P. persimilis and B. bassiana have been shown to be effective in controlling T. urticae, when applied together, an increase in handling time by P. persimilis was reported, leading to a decrease in the rate of feeding by the predatory mite (Seiedy et al., 2012).

It may sometimes be necessary to use a selective acaricide to reduce spider mite numbers and maintain a suitable pest/predator ratio. For example, a selective acaricide may be needed to reduce a large overwintered population of T. urticae in the spring, before a release of P. persimilis later in the year (Easterbrook, 1992).

IPM programmes should minimize the use of acaricides, to delay the onset of resistance and prolong their effective life, but even programmes that do not heavily rely on pesticide use need to be cautious when employing different control strategies. For example, hot-water treatment on strawberry discs has been shown to control T. urticae (Gotoh et al., 2013); however, it was suggested by the authors that the natural enemy, Neoseiulus californicus would have to be replaced following treatment due to its sensitivity to hot water.

Supplements, such as fertilizers, used in the growing environment must also work synergistically in an IPM programme and several authors have investigated the effect of fertilizer application on pests, such as T. urticae. For example, Zhang and Xiang (2007) reported an increase in the number of T. urticae (and Aphis gossypii) with an increase in organic fertilizer application; however, cucumber yield also increased. In contrast, other studies have shown that application of nitrogen or phosphorous fertilizers had no effect on numbers or activity of T. urticae (e.g. Shabalta et al., 1992, on soyabeans).


In 2006, Donohue et al. reported on atmospheric pressure plasma discharge as (APPD) a non-chemical method of control for insect pests including T. urticae. APPD is used to sterilize medical equipment and was shown to kill T. urticae. However, further reports of its application to control the mite in the scientific literature could not be found after publication of Donahue et al.’s paper in 2006.


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GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gateway source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

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