What do homeowners need to know about clover mites?

June 8, 2021

Sitting in your yard, perhaps on a decorative retaining wall or landscaped stone steps, you notice tiny red dots. Are they moving? If you touch them and crush them, a red stain will appear on your hands. These are clover mites.

What are clover mites?

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Red Clover Mite crawling over brown foliage

According to the University of Florida, “The clover mite, Bryobia praetiosa Koch, is one of the larger plant-feeding mites found in the landscape. It often becomes a pest indoors after heavy rain, excessive heat, or a change in the season, stimulating massive numbers to enter buildings. The mites appear as moving dark spots to the naked eye, crawling around walls, windows, and doors. Crushing the mites to kill them leaves a large reddish spot. Fortunately, the mites do not reproduce indoors and will die within a few days from dehydration.”

Clover mites are not insects. They are tiny mites that can invade your home. Many homeowners have seen clover mites sparsely around the house but dismissed them. Others have seen large areas covered in these small red dots and were unsure of what they were. Here are a few facts about clover mites.

  • Clover mites feed on clover, lawns, weeds, and landscaping plants.
  • These tiny mites are just about 1mm in size. They have long front legs that you cannot see without a microscope.
  • They are a vibrant red/orange and will stain if crushed.
  • Clover mites are parthenogenetic, meaning the female lays her eggs and does not require fertilization by males.
  • Attracted by the strongest sun, you may find them at the sunniest side of your foundation, yard, or home.
  • Inside, they appear on window sills, directly on the windows, or on the inside walls.
  • They are particularly fond of moist, dark cracks and areas.

Are clover mites harmful?

No, they do not pose a danger to people or pets. Clover mites do not transmit disease nor damage or feed on household materials once indoors. They do not infest food or products. These mites are no threat to the structure of your home.

How do you get rid of clover mites and other insects and pests?

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The tiny, red, velvety Clover Mite crawling over craggy pine bark

Like many outdoor pests and insects that enter a home, prevention is the best medicine to minimize the risk of entry and possible infestation. Just because clover mites pose no health risk, they are still unwanted guests.

Nine tips to keep insects from entering your home

Prevention is the most effective way to control clover mites and insects in general.

  1. Cut back 18 to 24 inches of vegetation from the house around the foundation perimeter and sides of buildings. Without it, the mites cannot travel to enter the home, and this ‘gap’ provides an identifiably treatable area.
  2. Treating cracks and holes on buildings in which mites may have crawled can be effective.
  3. Gutters, especially clogged gutters, create standing water- the perfect home for mosquitoes, cockroaches, and other pests.
  4. Standing water from clogged gutters may cause wood to rot and welcome termites and carpenter ants.
  5. Inspect your landscaping to ensure proper drainage away from your home.
  6. Keep your lawn trimmed. Cut back bushes and trees away from growing against or on your home, shed, or garage.
  7. Sprinkler systems can spring leaks and create standing water. Always service your sprinkler system to ensure it is properly functioning.
  8. Seal cracks and holes, including areas where utilities and pipes enter the home. Use caulk, steel wool, or a combination of both.
  9. Never place firewood inside or near your home or garage.

Here is an interesting fact: planting flowerbeds with plants that are not attractive to them might be helpful, such as geranium, chrysanthemum, zinnia, marigold, salvia, rose, petunia, or shrubs such as barberry, juniper, and yew.

Continue to be vigilant all summer long. Inspect your yard and outdoor living area regularly, especially after heavy rain or storms. It will be well worth your time.

Accurate Pest Control can help!

We have received increased calls for pest control services for clover mites in the past three weeks from customers in Clifton Park, Schenectady, Albany, Saratoga, and surrounding counties. They have experienced large visible amounts of clover mites. Contact us for treatment options, including our annual maintenance agreements.  Enjoy your summer.

resources: Special thanks to the University of Florida, An Equal Opportunity Institution
Featured Creatures Editor and Coordinator: Dr. Elena Rhodes, University of Florida

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