Seeing a swarm of tiny critters?
April 30, 2014
The size of a red clover mite is measured against the size of a penny. In numbers these mites may leave stains on the inside walls and window coverings of structures. (Photo credit: Whitney Cranshaw)

Every year at about this time, small red clover mites begin invading homes in large numbers. Thousands of them can appear during the spring or fall. Clover mites often crawl around through cracks and tiny openings around windows and doors.

A heavy growth of well-fertilized grass growing against the foundation of a home is often the source of an infestation.

“Clover mites are plant feeders and they get nutrients by sucking plant juices. Damage to plants generally is minimal. For that reason there is seldom a need for control,” said Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

Clover mites do not bite people or pets and cannot cause damage to home structures. They can leave unsightly stains on light-colored walls, carpet, fabrics, or papers when crushed.

The south, southwest, and east sides of a building are most susceptible to the critters due to quick warming from the sun.

“Prevention is the best step in controlling populations of clover mites. Creating a zone free of grass and weeds around the foundation of the home is important,” said Byers.

To prevent movement into the home, exterior cracks around doors and windows or holes in the foundation should be caulked.

Once inside, there are really only two options for removal: vacuuming them or killing them with a direct contact pyrethrin aerosol spray.

For more information, or answers to your specific lawn and garden questions, contact one of the following Master Gardener Hotlines in southwest Missouri: Barton County, (417) 682-3579; Christian County, (417) 581-4853, Greene County, (417) 881-8909; Jasper County, (417) 358-2158; or Stone and Taney counties, (866) 357-6812.

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