Friday, 6 February 2015

Day 97 - The Beauty of the mini-beasts part 5

Hey everyone,

Red Spider Mite (Tetranychus urticae)
Well it's day 97 and the 5th day of my trip, in fact I should be back by the time this is scheduled to go up. Just in case I'm late (or very tired) I've done a 5th day of my panto inspired Beauty of the Mini-beasts posts.

This one was quite a difficult one! Not only is the mini-beast a very small little bug it is also hard to find much on the internet that doesn't focus on how to get rid of it!

The little beastie in question is the red spider mite, and it was another find in the greenhouse with the iphone macro lens. I can't wait to try it on some slightly larger mini-beasts! I hope you can make it out in the photos here. Just in case I've linked a photo lower down from wikipedia commons.

 So what did I find out about these creatures:

  • They aren't very popular, gardeners really don't want them and they can cause a lot of damage to crops when they are in large numbers.
  • It is the smallest creature I've photographed, adult females are just 0.4mm long.
  • It's a very adaptable insect that can feed on hundreds of different plants.
  • Red spider mites feed on the contents of the plant cells, they suck out the insides of the plant cell by cell.
  • If Dad was really lucky this little guy could be a Phytoseiulus, another mite that preys on the Red Spider Mite and is used as an organic control for them. They are slightly bigger at 0.5mm!
  • They are only red in winter, most of the time they are a greeny-brown colour.
  • They can breed without mating, unfertilised eggs can hatch into males.
  • Severe infestations can defoliate (take all the leaves off) a plant!

So the smallest creature I've found seems to be the biggest pest!  The only site I found which didn't concentrate on how to get rid of them is Wikipedia if you want to know more.

Hope you enjoyed,


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