Taking an environmentally sensitive approach to pest management


Integrated Pest & Crop Management


Wayne C. Bailey
University of Missouri
Plant Science & Technology
(573) 882-2838

Spider Mites Problems in Dry Areas of State

Wayne C. Bailey
University of Missouri
(573) 882-2838

Published: August 1, 2011

Spider mite problems in soybean are increasing with the continuation of hot, dry conditions in some areas of Missouri. Two-spotted spider mite populations vary from field to field, ranging from no infestation to economic infestations requiring an insecticide application to reduce numbers in soybean.

Spider mites are small organisms most closely related to chiggers and spiders than to insects. The two-spotted spider mite, Tetranychus urticae, is often an economic pest of soybean and to a much lesser extent of corn in Missouri during periods of drought conditions. This pest gets its name from two dark spots on the sides of the abdomen which are visible through the mite's translucent, greenish-yellow, white, orange, or red colored body. Spider mites feed on the underside of soybean leaves and are difficult to detect due to their small size of about 1/60 of an inch. Damage to soybean is thought to be caused by the mites piercing individual plant cells with their mouthparts and then feeding on cell contents. Spider mite injury to soybean initially appears as yellow stipples or spots on soybean plants growing along field margins (where mites often overwinter). As mite populations increase, damage moves across the field as mites infest additional soybean plants. In heavy infestations the yellow stipples are generally followed by the injured foliage turning yellow, then brown/bronze and finally dropping from the plant as leaves senesce or dry. Identification of this pest is best accomplished using at least a 10X magnification lens or by shaking infested leaves over a white paper and watching for the small yellow mites to crawl about the paper after being dislodged from the soybean plant.

Although good thresholds for this pest are not available, treatment of infested fields is recommended if drought conditions exist, stipples are present of soybean leaves, and live mites are present. Generally, infestations of this pest move downwind, so it is necessary to scout the entire field to determine if mites are present in spots or throughout the entire field. If hot and dry conditions persist, the entire field may require treatment even if mite numbers are low in some areas of the field. Soybean maturity will be earlier and shattering of grain will be increased by the presence of economic levels of spider mites. Fields which received rainfall should continue to be scouted as damaging levels of spider mite may redevelop if drought conditions return. Note: Even after spider mites have been killed with an insecticide spray, damage symptoms may continue to worsen for up to a week after this pest has been eliminated.

SPIDER MITES - Tetranychus urticae Koch
Comments: Before pod set, treat when foliage yellowing reaches 20% and mites are present on plants. After pod set, treat when foliage yellowing reaches 10% and mites are present on plants. Spider mite infestations on soybean are often associated with drought conditions.
Common Name Trade Name Rate of formulated
material per acre
Placement REI hours PHI days
bifenthrin *Brigade 2EC 5.12 to 6.4 fl oz foliage 12 18 (grain)
chlorpyrifos + gamma-cyhalothrin *Cobalt 13 to 26 fl oz foliage 24 21 (grain, ears, forage, fodder)
dimethoate Dimethoate 4EC 1 pt foliage 48 21 (grain)
lambda-cyhalothrin + thiamethoxam *Endigo ZC (suppresion only) 4.0 to 4.5 fl oz foliage 24 30 (grain)
Do not graze or feed livestock
zeta-cypermethrin + bifentrhrin *Hero 4.0 to 10.3 fl oz foliage 12 21 (grain)
Do not graze or feed livestock
chlorpyrifos *Lorsban Advanced 1/2 to 1 pt foliage 24 28 (grain)
Do not graze or feed livestock
chlorpyrifos *Nufos 4E 1/2 to 1 pt foliage 24 28 (grain)
Do not graze or feed livestock
lambda-cyhalothrin *Warrior II with Zeon 1.92 fl oz foliage 24 30 (grain)
Do not graze or feed livestock

*Designates a restricted-use pesticide. Use is restricted to certified applicators only.
Read the label to determine appropriated insecticide rates, directions, precautions, and restrictions.

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REVISED: September 28, 2011