Last year, the focus of the Insect of the Week was crop pests. This year, we’re changing things up and highlighting the many natural enemies that help you out, silently and efficiently killing off crop pests. [note: featured Insects of the Week in 2015 are available on the Insect of the Week page]
This week’s feature natural enemies are predatory mites. These are not insects but instead belong to the Arachnid or spider class of arthropods. My known encounters with mites have been of the pest type (e.g. two-spotted spider mite), spinning their webs and literally sucking the life out of their host plants and transmitting viruses. But this group, the predatory mites get their meal instead from insect eggs, all stages of pest mites, thrips, young aphids and leafhoppers. They may be small, but they are ‘mity’.
For more information about these natural enemies, other pests they control and other important crop and forage insects, see the new Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada – Identification and Management Field Guide for identification, life cycle and conservation options (download links for field guide available on the Insect of the Week page).
Adult whirligig mite,
Aleksander Balodis (AfroBrazillian), Wikimedia Commons
Adult red velvet mite,
Jorg Hempel, Wikimedia Commons