During the past few summers, we’ve had in influx of bermudagrass mite infestations in some lawns in the Oklahoma area. I’ve been caring for turf for 30 years in Oklahoma, and until recently, mites have not been that big of an issue. For some reason though, they seem to be getting worse. The damage is typically worse under drought conditions when the turf is under stress, as has been the case for the past few summers. However even with the drought-busting rains in May, we’ve seen lawn similar to this one, with severe damage.
The very small, white bermudagrass mite in an eriophyid mite 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. 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.
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. LawnAmerica can provide that if needed. This type of liquid insecticide treatment is fairly easy to do with a hose-end bottle of insecticide from the local garden center, which can be applied with a regular garden hose.
Chad, one of our Mangers, recently recorded a view of bermudagrass mites on a Tulsa lawn with a magnifier, in which you can actually see the tiny little pests crawling on the underside of a grass blade. Even though they are small, in such great numbers, they can wreck havoc on a lawn, so we do suggest that you treat the lawn if damage is present, or call us and we can provide service for you.