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Bradenton AREC Research Report BRA1983-2 January 1983
THE CYCLAMEN MITE: UNDERSTANDING THIS PEST RECENTLY DISCOVERED
ON STRAWBERRIES IN HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FLORIDA
James F. Price
In December, 1982, a strawberry grower from Hillsborough County complained
about the unhealthy condition of a significant portion of his strawberry
crop. The plants were unusually small and chlorotic considering the plants'
age and culture. AREC-Bradenton scientists identified the problem as resulting
from an infestation of a mite, probably the cyclamen mite (Stenotarsonemus
pallidus (Banks)). Mr. Harold Denmark of the Florida Department of Agricul-
ture and Consumer Services and Dr. Harvey Cromroy of the University of Florida,
Department of Entomology and Nematology, confirmed that specimens taken from
the plants were cyclamen mites. The Hillsborough County Agricultural Exten-
sion Service subsequently identified about 7 additional farms infested with
This paper is prepared to inform strawberry growers of the biology of this
mite, of its relationship to the crop and of measures for control. The infor-
mation presented should prepare growers to prevent a recurrence of the problem
and inform managers of affected farms how to deal effectively with cyclamen
The cyclamen mite is found frequently on ornamental crops in Florida, partic-
ularly those crops produced in greenhouses. However, infestations in straw-
berry fields were not known to have occurred here. In the northeastern
United States, California and the Pacific Northwest cyclamen mites in straw-
berry crops are common. Therefore, much of our understanding of this pest
comes from research performed in other areas.
Distribution and Host Plants: The cyclamen mite is distributed worldwide.
It has been reported on flowers and shrubs from Europe, Asia and the Hawaiian
Islands as well as from throughout North America (Jeppson et al. 1975).
Hosts include monk's hood, African violets, ageratum, azalea, begonia,
crassula, cyclamen, dahlia, delphinium, gerbera daisy, gloxinia, Arabian
jasmine, petunia, ivy, antirrhinum, strawberry, numerous foliage plants and
others (Green 1978).
Appearance and Development of the Mite: Eggs, larvae and adult females are
the forms most frequently observed. All forms are so small that they are
only faintly visible without optical .csnification. Eggs are about half
as large as adult females, oval and opaque white. Several eggs may be found
bunched together and hatch in about 10 days at 59 F (Vernon 1978), the opti-
mal temperature for development (Green 1978). However, other literature
indicates that eggs develop more rapidly, 3-7 days (Jeppson 1975, Green 1978).
Assistant Professor (Assistant Entomologist)
Symptoms of Attack on Strawberries from Hillsborough County: All affected
plants possessed symptoms similar to those described by Breakey and Dailey
(1956). Leaves were small, chlorotic, highly wrinkled and had short petioles.
Runners had numerous small "thorns" rather than a smooth texture. Additional
symptoms observed were dark brown, dry flowers, russeted berries and poorly
developed root systems. Examination of plants under a stereo microscope
revealed cyclamen mites in the crevices of leaf wrinkles, on unopened and
opened flowers, on newly formed fruit and in the plant bud. Some plants
contained as many as a few hundred of these mites.
Development of the Problem on Strawberries: Problems with the cyclamen mite
on strawberries in Florida develop from setting infested plants imported from
the north. In more northern climates, where strawberries are grown for late
spring fruiting, cyclamen mites overwinter as adult females in the crowns of
infested strawberry plants (Jeppson 1975, Vernon 1978). Populations begin
to develop in the early spring and reach peaks in midsummer.
Cyclamen mites move along runners from mother plants to daughter plants. New
fields established from the daughter plants are rarely heavily infested unlon
the daughter plants had been severely infested earlier. Plants grown for a
second year are much more heavily infested and thus, should not be used as
planting stock (Vernon 1978).
Cyclamen mites, once introduced into fields in Florida, can move along runners
to infest neighboring plants or can be carried by bees, other insects, birds,
field workers or machinery to infest other fields. The movement of mites
along the soil or on plastic mulch is not likely since the mite requires the
humid environment of plant surfaces (Jeppson 1975).
Dealing with a Cyclamen Mite Infestation: Control of an outbreak of cyclamen
mites is difficult to achieve, so strategies should be directed toward pre-
venting an outbreak through the use of plants certified to be free of the
pest. Jeppson (1975) lists means to eliminate cyclamen mites from stock
to be planted, including fumigation of plants with methyl bromide or ethylene
dibromide, immersion of plants for 30 minutes in 110 F water or treatment of
plants with saturated air at that temperature for one hour. The success of
these treatments depends on the physiological condition and cultivar of the
strawberry and should not be considered as practical alternatives in Florida
To control cyclamen mites established in a fruiting crop in Florida, it is
extremely important to detect the infestation early before plant growth has
been significantly affected and before the numbers of mites have become too
large. A regular program of crop scouting should insure the earliest detec-
tion of this pest.
Thiodar endosulfann) and Kelthane& (dicofol) are the most effective miticides
available for cyclamen mites on strawberries, but neither provides the rapid
control of this pest that is desired. Thiodan should be applied at 2 pounds
of active ingredient per acre in 400 gallons of water. This material can not
be applied more than once every 35 days at the above rate. There is a 4 day
waiting period between application of the product and the earliest permissable
Kelthane should be applied at 2.4 pounds of active ingredient per acre in
400 gallons of water at 10 to 20-day intervals. There is a 2-day waiting
period between application of Kelthane and the earliest permissible harvest.
High volumes of spray preparations are required for miticides to contact the
mites deep in the plant bud. At least 150 psi are required to penetrate the
strawberry canopy and contact mites in crevices (Shanks 1979). Application
machinery and methods must be adjusted in order to achieve proper delivery
of Thiodan or Kelthane. All pesticide label restrictions must be carefully
Summary of Precautions Against Cyclamen Mites:
1. Plant inspected strawberries free of cyclamen mites.
2. Plant only first year daughter plants.
3. Inspect fields regularly for outbreaks.
4. Restrict movements of possibly contaminated personnel and machinery
out of infested sites and into noninfested sites.
5. Provide the greatest separation in time and distance that is prac-
tical between infested fruiting fields and summer nurseries. This
may require an agreement from managers of infested farms to destroy
their completed crop as early as possible.
6. As the cyclamen mite has few weed hosts on which to survive the
noncropped summer, the elimination of cultivated and noncultivated
strawberry plants from the area of an infested farm is important
to prevent reinfestation in the following year.
7. Summer nurseries should be inspected carefully following a season
in which cyclamen mite was present on strawberries in the community.
Kelthane and Thiodan should be used to control any infestations
Breakey, E. P. and Ervin F. Dailey, Jr. 1956. A method for identifying
cyclamen mite damage on Northwest variety strawberries. State College
of Wash. Ext. Cir. 261. 4 pp.
Green, James L. 1978. Cyclamen mite alert. Orn. Northwest. Feb-Mar. 6-9.
Jeppson, Lee R., Hartford H. Keifer and Edward W. Baker. 1975. Mites
Injurious to Economic Plants. Univ. Calif. Press. Berkeley and
Los Angeles. 614 pp.
Shanks, Carl H. 1979. Cyclamen mite on strawberries. Proc. Western
Wash. Hort. Assoc. 135-6.
Vernon, J. D. R. 1978. Strawberry mite. British Ministry of Agric.
Fisheries and Food. HSD 51. 4 pp.