Mites are the biggest pest for citrus growers on the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland (FNQ). To improve understanding of citrus mites in FNQ, staff from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in Mareeba took a closer look at the pests during the last mite season (September 2020 to April 2021).
The oriental spider mite, Eutetranychus orientalis, was the most dominant mite species in five out of eight months of the study. Rust mites were the dominant species from January to March. Rust mites included mostly the citrus rust mite, Phyllocoptruta oleivora, and small numbers of Brown citrus rust mite, Tegolophus australis. Broad mites, Polyphagotarsonemus latus, were only present in February.
Mite control was solely based on chemical sprays and no other control methods were specifically used. Traditional miticides were the most commonly used products, including sulphur, abamectin, etoxazole and fenbutatin oxide. There was also regular use of broad spectrum insecticides, such as chlorpyrifos and methomyl. Overuse of broad spectrum insecticides is known to flare mites and destroy natural enemies.