Bermudagrass Mite damage on a lawn.
Bermudagrass Mites are becoming an ever-increasing problem in Oklahoma lawns. I’ve been caring for lawns for over 30 years in Oklahoma, and until a few years ago, mites were not that big of an issue. We don’t really know why they are increasing, but the changing weather patterns with warmer winters does seem to play a role in it. Another big factor is that two popular insecticides that were even labelled to control mites, Dursban and Diazinon, have been off the market due to E.P.A. regulations for the past 10 years or so. The replacement insecticides used for things such as flea and tick control while good for those insects, do little to control Bermudagrass Mites.
Mites are very small, only 1/100” in size, so they cannot be seen with the naked eye. The mites feed under the leaf sheaths, sucking sap from the plants. The can go from egg to adult in 7-10 days, so the population can quickly explode into a damaging level in turf. As the mites feed on bermudagrass, the plants shrivel and develop a “witches broom” effect or what looks like tufted growth on the stem. Yellowing and wilting then can occur, giving the appearance of drought stress and thinning turf. Most homeowners, and even many professionals, cannot properly diagnose Mite problems due to the small size, newness of the problem, and because the symptoms looks similar to other issues such as drought.
Mites spread by wind, water, from other insects, etc. If mite damage is present, mow turf a little shorter than normal and bag the clippings to remove as many mites as possible. Water and fertilize the grass well so that the turf will outgrow the damage. There is no miticide or insecticide that has the bermudagrass mite on the label. However, university research and our experience has been that at least two liquid treatments of insecticides such as Bifenthrin applied about a week apart can provide some control of the mites. We also add horticulture oil to help smother the mites and their eggs. LawnAmerica can provide a liquid insecticide treatment if needed. You may also try insecticide which can be applied with a regular garden hose and try the treatment yourself.
For more information, visit our YouTube on Bermudagrass Mites at: