The clover mite, or bryobia praetiosa, is a tiny red or brown mite that often lives in tall grasses, shrubs, and bushes, where it feeds on sappy plants. If you own domestic plants, you may be worried about these mites hurting them.
Clover mites can hurt your plants, but only if you have a heavy infestation. These bugs eat sap from clover, grasses, trees, and shrubs, and some plants may wither or die if too much sap is consumed. However, it’s unlikely to see such damage unless you have hundreds of clover mites in your garden.
In the rest of this article, I’ll help you understand how to tell if you have a clover mite infestation and give you some tips on how to ward them off.
7 Things You Should Know About Clover Mites
So, when are clover mites a problem, and how can you prevent them from taking over your landscape? Let’s talk more about these interesting arachnids.
1. Clover Mites Are the Largest Plant-Infesting Mite
Clover mites are much larger than other mites. However, that doesn’t mean that they’re “big” in the sense you may think of. In fact, they usually aren’t any larger than a pinhead, so it can be challenging to see them.
Since they’re tiny bugs, they can be difficult to spot when they’re hiding in your garden. You’re more likely to notice them when they’re moving, and they look like swift, small shadows.
They’re usually ovular, and they have long front legs that most people mistake for antennae. They come in various colors, but they’re most often bright red, red and brown, or greenish-brown.
Clover mites lay their eggs in small cracks and crevices, and it’s common to see them on sidewalks since females often lay their eggs in sidewalk cracks.
2. Clover Mites Can Infest and Damage Some Plants and Lawns
Clover mites eat sap from clover, grasses, trees, and shrubs, sucking the sugars from the stems and leaves.
In small numbers, they don’t do much damage to your plants. That’s because these mites are tiny, and having one or two hundred of these bugs in your garden won’t result in too much sap loss.
However, if you have a full-blown clover mite infestation, they can suck so much sap out of your garden and lawn that plants may wither or die. The most common sign of an infestation is brown or yellow patches on your yard, where clover mite-infected grass has died.
Infestations are uncommon. However, there are some conditions that make it more likely that these mites will set up camp outside your home permanently, including if:
- You have tall, unkempt grass.
- Your lawn is well fertilized and bright green.
- Your lawn faces the south or gets full sunlight – clover mites are attracted to warmth.
- It’s early spring (when plants grow sweet, fresh shoots rapidly) or autumn (when mites begin searching for new feeding grounds).
3. Clover Mites Eat More Than Clover
Clover mites, as their name indicates, love to eat clover. However, they have many other favorite foods that might attract them to your garden.
Clover mites are known to eat more than 200 species of plants. Along with clover, they are also attracted to some of the most common ornamental and lawn plants, so creating a garden that isn’t enticing to the mites may be challenging.
That said, keeping your plants mite-free is easier if you know where to look for them.
Some common plants that clover mites feed on are:
- Lawn grass, especially tall grass
- Ornamental flowers such as primrose, daffodils, and coneflower
- Sappy trees like maple and mesquite
- Fruit trees
- Algae, mold, and mildew
- Burning bush and other shrubs
4. Clover Mites Won’t Hurt You or Your Pets
Clover mites are related to spiders and ticks, but they don’t eat blood or harm humans, so they don’t pose much of a safety risk for you and your pets.
Additionally, they don’t eat household items like fabrics or wood and won’t pose too much of an issue for your property.
They don’t bite, and they don’t like to invade indoor spaces since they primarily eat grass and clover. If they do get inside your home, they’ll die quickly. So, if you have clover mites inside your home, don’t hesitate to remove them by hand.
5. Keep Your Lawn and Shrubs Trimmed To Prevent Clover Mites
Removing their feeding and living grounds will usually do the trick if you want to eliminate the clover mites around your home.
Clover mites often sleep where they eat. Since they usually choose to hide, they are most common in overgrown grasses, bushes, and unkempt fields, where they can easily go undetected.
So, if you’re looking to keep these mites off of your plants, keep your lawn trimmed and remove debris like leaves and weeds.
6. Clover Mites Are Attracted to Mulch
Mulch, such as bark and straw, makes the perfect place for clover mites to hide and lay eggs. They often hide in mulched areas when they can’t find food, when it’s cold, and when it’s raining outside.
For homeowners and gardeners wanting to get rid of your clover mites, switching out your mulch for stones or gravel is essential. If you must use mulch, keep it far from your prized plants and treat the mulch with an insecticide to kill mites on contact.
7. Not All Insecticides Work Against Clover Mites
If you want to kill the clover mites on your property, you’ll need to use the correct insecticide, especially if you have a widespread infestation.
Clover mites are resilient, and you’ll only be able to kill them if you use a chemical or organic insecticide that works for them.
Best Insecticides for Clover Mites
Some of the best long-lasting insecticides for killing clover mites are as follows. All are available on Amazon.com:
I recommend Diatomaceous Earth DE10 because it’s safe for pets and children, plus, it’s easy to apply. It’s also effective against a range of insects, making it a good multi-purpose option to have readily available.
I recommend this Permethrin-based insecticide by Bayer because it can be used as a spray, making it easier to target key areas on your pants (or garden). In addition to clover mites, it’s also effective against a range of insects, including roaches, ticks, fleas, flies, and mosquitoes.
I recommend this Bifenthrin-based insecticide by Ortho because it’s perfect for keeping mites (and a wide range of other pests) off your lawn and home for up to three months with just one application. While clover mites are usually only an issue in spring and fall, this spray will keep you just as well protected during the rest of the year.
Clover mites aren’t usually an issue for plant owners, but if they infest your lawn and garden, your grass, flowers, trees, and shrubs may wither. Keeping your clover mite population under control is simple if you keep your lawn trimmed, avoid mulch, and use a long-lasting pesticide to protect your plants.
- Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County: Clover Mites
- Entomology University of Kentucky: Clover Mites
- How I Get Rid Of: How To Get Rid of Clover Mites
- University of Florida Entomology: Clover Mite-Bryobia Praetiosa
- PestWorld.org: Clover Mites in Early Spring: How to Get Rid of Mites
- Arrow Pest Control: Facts and Information About Clover Mites
- Entomology and Plant Pathology Tennessee: April Clover Mites