In recreational turf, mites can cause significant visual damage to the uniformity and texture of the turf playing surface but more importantly cause growth retardation and slower wear recovery. The most prevalent species in South East Queensland is commonly referred to as Couch Mite which mainly affects Green Couch, Green Couch hybrids and Kikuyu. They are most active over the warmer months of the year and prefer hot and dry conditions. The image below from Syngenta shows the typical life cycle of mites:
How to identify damage?
The most noticeable damage can be described as a ‘witches’ broom’ or ‘bunchy top’ effect which is a result of the mites living in the leaf sheaths causing a shortening of the leaf size and decreasing the distance between the internodes. Patches of mite damage can range from a single shoot to half a hectare and can cause large bare areas that can lead to weed germination. Even after the treating the pest the bare areas may still be present due damage they have caused.
What treatments are available?
Chemical controls are affective and can be undertaken to eliminate the pest with the best application timing being at the first signs of their activity, reducing the damage they cause. Fertilising and lower mowing heights with clipping removal may help control and help repair their damage.