Clover Mites

Clover Mite Damage – Do They Bite?

Clover mites (Bryobia praetiosa) can be a nuisance when they invade a home. These mites don´t bite but can cause skin irritation in sensitive individuals. When crushed, clover mites leave a reddish stain on walls, curtains, bedding, furniture and floors.
Clover Mite

An adult clover mite under a microscope.

Clover Mite Identification

Clover mites are arachnids, with an oval body and eight legs; the two front legs point straight forward and are sometimes mistaken for antennae. The mites are about 1/30 of an inch – smaller than a pinhead, and difficult to see. Adult mites are reddish-brown and/or orange but often turn a greenish color after feeding. In the early spring and late autumn, eggs and young clover mites are easily seen because they are very red in color.
Drawing of a Clover Mite

Drawing of a Clover Mite – Note the long, front legs.

These mites can be distinguished from other mites by their extremely long front legs. As the name implies, clover mites eat clover and grassy lawns, especially well-fertilized ones. They do not feed on humans. An interesting fact about clover mites is that they are parthenogenetic – there are no males; eggs develop without being fertilized. After overwintering in cracks of buildings, fence posts, under bark and other dry, protected areas, clover mite eggs hatch in early spring.
Red Young Clover Mite

Young clover mites are red in color.

A single female mite may lay up to 70 eggs and the generation is complete by early summer. New eggs deposited by this generation aestivate until September.

Clover mites feed on lawn grasses and a variety of plants besides clover.

Controlling Clover Mite Infestations

Clover mites are not necessarily pests in terms of biting and causing disease but they can invade homes in unbelievable numbers. In one case where clover mites invaded a home, an estimated 250,000 mites were crawling on the bedroom floor! If crushed, they leave red stains so if you only see a few, wipe them up carefully with soapy water. If, however, you have an infestation, Hearts Pest Management can treat successfully for clover mites by using both traditional and organic methods.

Clover Mite Prevention

Keeping grass and other plants trimmed away from the foundation of your home, prevents clover mites from entering through cracks and windowsills. Clover mites rarely cross clean, cultivated areas of soil; the recommended vegetation-free band of bare soil around the perimeter of a home is 18-36 inches. Any ornamental plants close to the foundation should be kept free of grass, fallen leaves, and weeds; gravel, not bark, should be used along the perimeter between these plants.
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Clover Mite References

Clover Mites, University of Kentucky – Entomology Mallis, Handbook of Pest Control, Tenth Edition, Saunders College Publishing, 2011.

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