Armored Mite (oribatida) - Photo, Description Of How To Get Rid Of Them

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Armored Mite (oribatida) - Photo, Description Of How To Get Rid Of Them
Armored Mite (oribatida) - Photo, Description Of How To Get Rid Of Them
Video: Armored Mite (oribatida) - Photo, Description Of How To Get Rid Of Them
Video: Identifying Mites 2023, February


  • Who are shell mites

    Differences between spider and shell mites

  • Do shell mites harm
  • Armored mites on orchids

    • Are shell mites useful in orchids?
    • Own observations
  • How to get rid of shell mites

Armored mites are one of the numerically dominant groups of arthropods found in soils. They certainly play an important role in soil food webs, regulating the decomposition of organic matter and microorganisms that inhabit the soil. Among the mites there are many species, some prefer to colonize in slightly acidic soils, others in alkaline ones. On average, the population density of shell mites of various species reaches several hundred thousand individuals per square meter.

Stages of development of armored mites: larva, nymphs of three instars, and adults (adults).

Unlike spider mites or flat beetles, armored mites develop rather slowly. So, spider mites go through a full development cycle at high temperatures in 3-5 days, and most species of shell mites develop from eggs to adults from several weeks to several months, and in nature, in temperate climates in forest soils, up to two years.

Do not confuse armored mites with herbivorous root or onion mites, which never crawl to the surface of the stems, do not run over the leaves and have a characteristic translucent gray body, the same watery-gray large eggs.

But why are we talking about them in the section on pests of indoor plants? Because many sites on the Internet convince you that shell mites devour your plants, especially harmful to orchids, especially young ones. And what really is, let's figure it out a little below.

Differences between spider and shell mites

shell mite
shell mite

Armored mites can also be seen with a magnifying glass.

shell mite
shell mite

It runs very quickly along the leaf into the substrate.

The main differences between pests and non-pests:

Carapace mites Spider mites and flat beetles
They have a body of dark brown or black color, often with luster, measuring about 0.7-0.9 mm. The eggs are reddish brown or brown and are also visible to the naked eye. Herbivorous mites can be whitish (dirty gray), light brown (sandy), reddish brown, yellowish with brown spots, brick or brick brown. The size of adult ticks is from 0.1 to 0.3 mm (on average).
They run fast - about 5-7 mm per second (my observations). They are very slow, the same 5 mm crawl in a minute or two if you stir them up, and for the most part they sit motionless.
They run away from the light source, immediately hide under leaves, onion scales, in the soil. They are not afraid of light, initially they settle on the back of the leaf, there are more of them, but not for the reason that light interferes with them - it is easier for them to stay on the leaves there (they do not fly off from streams of water, rain or air movement).
They crawl all over the plant, but they lay eggs on decaying organic matter - fallen leaves, twigs in the ground, a tangle of rotten roots, on already dead yellowing leaves of plants that were not cut off (but only if they come into contact with the soil surface). They crawl all over the plant, but lay eggs on green leaves. The most favorite places are young shoots of leaves, tops of shoots, stems, sprout buds. In plants with fluffy leaves, eggs are laid in any part of the leaf, in plants with smooth leaves - mainly along the convex veins on the back side or in the depression of the central vein on top of the leaf.
They develop only in a humid environment, damp soil. Humidity of air and soil for spider mites and flat beetles does not matter.

Do shell mites harm orchids

In fact, shell mites do no obvious harm to orchids or other plants. Oribatida mites are one of those living things that make the soil structure by crushing, actually chewing, fallen leaves and all organic debris, including feeding on fungi and algae.

Among the mites, there are no species that feed on living tissue, even if they are young shoots. In fact, panic and myths were born mainly on Russian-language resources. Among the Canadian or US orchid lovers' societies, there is no mention of the fact that shell mites can somehow injure young seedlings of phalaenopsis or other orchids.

For example, so as not to be unfounded, I will quote Paul Johnson, professor of entomology at South Dakota State University, from November 22, 2008: “Quite often, many harmless mite species are found with orchid cultures, which feed on fungi, bacteria and rotting organic material. There are also several beneficial carnivorous mites that feed on herbivorous mites, insect pests, and other critters. Oribatids, which look like tiny round, dark-colored bugs, feed on fungi on plant roots, rotting products of organic materials."

shell mite
shell mite

They hide under dry scales of bulbs, bulbs.

shell mite
shell mite

Black shiny oribatids slightly less than 1 mm in size.

But shell mites can cause indirect harm - they are carriers of helminth eggs, as well as nematodes. Therefore, it is advisable to prevent their appearance in the soil for flowers. To do this, it is enough to warm up the prepared substrate in the oven, scattered on a baking sheet in a layer of about 5 cm at 200 degrees for 20-30 minutes in order to destroy pests and pathogens.

Mites-oribatids carry fungal spores and bacteria on their paws, and they crawl not only along healthy tissue - if a leaf or root of a plant breaks off, the mites will immediately climb onto fresh scrap. And at the same time they will bring in a bunch of microbes. Therefore, all cuts and cuts on the orchid must be dried, but not with brilliant green, but with colloidal sulfur or crushed birch charcoal.

Real, simply deadly damage to the leaves of orchids and other plants is caused not by shell mites, but most often by a wide mite - Polyphagotarsonemus latus - a microscopic mite that you will not find even in a magnifying glass, only in a microscope. Signs of its appearance are deformation of the tops of the shoots, ulceration and curvature when unfolding a young leaf. The saliva of wide mites is toxic and the symptoms are similar to a chemical burn: the shriveled brown edges of opening leaves, buds. Less commonly, yellowing and gray spots. It is the wide tick and its counterpart, the cyclamen, which are the main and main pests in greenhouses, including industrial greenhouses with orchids.

wide tick
wide tick

On this orchid, two types of mites were found: spider mites - from it gray stripes and a wide mite (close-up).

wide mite eggs
wide mite eggs

The wide mite has characteristic eggs - completely transparent with white bumps (through a microscope).

Armored mites on orchids

Shell mites on orchids, like mushroom mosquitoes, are an indicator of the state of the soil in pots. Their abundant reproduction suggests that your pots are very damp, so damp that the bark, moss, forest litter that has ended up in the ground (sticks, twigs, leaves) rot. And they rot very actively! Even if the pieces of bark in your pot of orchids look dry, they probably won't dry out on the inside.

Is it bad? Under natural conditions, this is natural and inevitable, armored mites literally swarm in damp forest litter, but epiphytes themselves choose where to direct their roots - to too moisture-consuming moss and rotting bark and leaves, or grow up the trunk, where there is less moisture. In room culture, we forcibly keep orchids in pots, their roots have nowhere to run, and if bark and pieces of wood rot nearby, blue-green algae develop, and roots also rot.

Therefore, if you have armored mites crawling, panic not about these animals, but about the fact that, most likely, pathogenic microflora is actively multiplying in you - fungi and bacteria that can kill an orchid in a few days. In addition, wide mites and spiderwebs can settle on your orchids simultaneously with armored mites, if a silvery bloom appears on the leaves, or the growths are deformed, it is worth looking for them, first of all!

shell mite eggs
shell mite eggs

Carapace mites lay their eggs on wet, decaying organic matter.

shell mite
shell mite

Already lifeless scrap of a leaf, mites only digest what has died from waterlogging or from old age.

Are shell mites useful in orchids?

Think about why we need pine bark in pots - this is a very slowly decaying organic matter, first of all, it does not nourish, but serves to fix orchids in a pot - so that it does not fall, does not fall on its side.

During watering, a small part of the nutrients consumed by orchids passes into the water. Many indoor orchids, including phalaenopsis, can do just fine without bark, on a block or in an empty pot. Orchids classified as terrestrial (conditionally terrestrial) do not grow on compost heaps! These orchids grow in a substrate that is also slowly decaying and moderately moist.

Therefore, keeping an orchid in a pot filled with raw rotting bark is about the same as drinking classic tea or chifir from five bags per glass.

If you have armored mites crawling in a pot, the pine bark will turn into dust several times faster, you will need more frequent transplantation. And for an orchid, shaking from pot to pot, from bark to bark is inevitable root injuries. Orchids can and should live in one place (substrate, block) for several years in a row (6-8 years). A transplant is necessary only when the soil is salinized, when the walls of the pot are silted, when the bark turns into dust, if necessary, treatment and removal of rotten root areas.

Therefore, if there is an opportunity to get rid of shell mites, get rid of them. You should not immediately resort to acaricides, as is the case with spider mites and wide mites. Just remove the orchid from the bark (substrate), rinse it whole in hot water. Most orchids with dense leathery leaves tolerate hot water up to 50 degrees. I have not tried rinsing precious orchids, but if in doubt, rinse in warm water (about 40 degrees).

It is necessary not only to soak, but to rinse out the orchid or other plant. In order not to injure the bush, I take a large basin, very large, so that you can not knock the leaves on the walls, but freely move the plant back and forth, without touching the walls. The fact is that armored mites are afraid of light, especially bright ones, they hide not only in the roots, between pieces of bark, but also under the scales on the bulbs, axils of the lower leaves. It is impossible to tear off dry scales, but the streams of water when rinsing will wash the mites from under them. The water in the basin must be changed 3-4 times.

Next, you need to destroy the mites in the ground. Freezing them does not bother, but high temperatures will help us. The easiest way is to heat the substrate in the microwave for a few minutes until the steam starts to flow. Then dry thoroughly. But do not plant the orchid immediately in this substrate - keep it for several days without the substrate, repeating the rinse and letting the roots breathe fresh air.

Own observations

In summer, cucumbers grew on my balcony. They grew in huge buckets and, naturally, I did not sterilize such a volume of soil.

On the same balcony there were pots of orchids, in one of them was a small dendrobium, cured of spider mites. And then she overlooked, let the cat into the "garden", he cut off a couple of branches of cucumbers, dropped the crops of cacti and ate orchids. I screamed, beat the cat, collected what I could, and put the dendrobium stub in a bucket with the cucumbers. I didn't know what to do with it, the healthy growth was destroyed, and what was left was gray-silver leaves after spider mites.

find a tick
find a tick

A bucket of cucumbers contained a bunch of sphagnum moss and a few alder leaves. And since the cucumbers were watered very abundantly, a wonderful place was created for the soil animals. My dendrobium lay a little on top of an alder leaf, and armored mites also ran along it. I didn’t take it out, I decided to see what would happen. And nothing terrible happened - a week passed, the dendrobium increased 4-5 mm of healthy green leaf tissue and started up 3 mm roots.

I looked at the whole menagerie through the microscope for a long time and did not find any damage on the new growth, while the shell mites were swarming on it - they mostly crawled along the bunch of dead roots, which I never cut off.

I don't know if this baby will survive (it is still very small), but the shell mites certainly did not harm him in any way.

Later, I went to a friend whose phalaenopsis grow in the bark, literally dig deeper and found shell mites in one pot. They are easy to spot - glossy, shiny round, like balls moving very quickly. Of course, they were found in the pot where there was the dampest bark (although, it took 5 days after watering), there was one yellowed leaf and several rotten roots.

How to get rid of shell mites

If you nevertheless decide to get rid of armored mites by chemical means, then use drugs from the group of acaricides - all the same as for the destruction of any other types of ticks: Fitoverm, Apollo, Vermitic, Nisoran, Sunmight, etc.

However, these arthropods are just as easily adaptable to chemistry (the fittest survive), like all other living creatures. Therefore, if the remedy did not help the first time, reuse the drug with an active substance from another chemical group.

Remember that Aktara does not work on arthropods!

To surely get rid of armored mites, you need not only to apply acaricide, but also to thoroughly dry the soil. In some cases, it is advisable to replace the entire soil, and simply soak the plant's root system in a basin with acaricide solution.

When compiling the soil for any indoor plants, keep in mind that sphagnum moss and inert (non-decaying materials), like coconut substrate and fibers, do not favor armored mites; from all organic matter, they prefer fallen leaves, semi-rotten wood and bark.

You can get rid of a huge number of shell mites, i.e. not to destroy them, but to reduce the colony to negligible: put a few rings of potato peel, cucumber or apple on the surface of the soil, after a few hours adult mites will climb on them, and you can throw them out.

Natalia Rusinova

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