Clover mites are accidental invaders that can be a temporary nuisance during early spring. These very small, reddish brown creatures appear only as moving dark spots to the naked eye. Sheer numbers, plus the resulting red-brown stain left behind if they are crushed, make them unwelcome visitors. Clover mites are not blood feeders and will not harm people or pets nor will they infest household products. Once inside a home or building they will soon die.
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 these mites are usually seen crawling along sills or thresholds.
A soapy rag or wet sponge can be used to clean mites off of 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 indoors. Do not apply insecticides to kitchen counters or other interior surfaces.
There is an increased potential for mites 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.
By Lee Townsend, Extension Entomologist