Clover mites can be temporary nuisances in early spring. These very small, reddish-brown creatures usually appear as moving dark spots. Sheer numbers, plus the resulting red-brown stain left behind if they are crushed, make them unwelcome visitors. Clover mites do not feed on blood and pose no threat to people or pets. They will not become long-term residents, nor will they infest household products.
Clover mites feed on clover and grasses, and they can be especially abundant in the heavy, succulent growth of well-fertilized lawns. They usually enter a home around windows or doors so they are usually seen crawling along sills or thresholds.
- A soapy rag or wet sponge can be used to clean mites off surfaces. Wipe carefully to avoid crushing the mites and causing stains. The crevice tool of a vacuum cleaner may also be used to pick up mites. Rely on non-chemical control methods indoors. Do not apply insecticides to kitchen counters or other interior surfaces.
- There is an increased potential for invading structures when grass extends up to the foundation. A plant bed or open area will provide a barrier that will stop many mites and provide a long term solution to persistent problems. Avoid over-fertilizing lawns. This creates situations that are ideal for mites to increase to tremendous numbers.
- A barrier spray of a pyrethroid insecticide (e.g., Spectracide Bug Stop, Enforcer Overnight Pest Control Concentrate) may reduce movement of the mites from grasses to patios, decks, or house walls. Use a compressed air or hose end sprayer to treat at the base of all exterior doors, garage and crawl space entrances, around foundation vents and utility openings, and up underneath siding. It may also be useful to treat around the outside perimeter of the foundation in a 2- to 6-foot-wide band along the ground, and 2 to 3 feet up the foundation wall. Follow label directions.
By Lee Townsend, Extension Entomologist