Predatory mites

What are predatory mites?

Predatory mites are beneficial arthropods used in pest control to manage and reduce populations of harmful pests in various agricultural and horticultural settings. These tiny arthropods are natural enemies of many plant-feeding mites and insects like spider mites, whitefly and thrips. Predatory mites are an essential component of integrated pest management (IPM) strategies as they offer an sustainable alternative to chemical pesticides.

Koppert is the pioneer in the development of predatory mite solutions, starting in 1967 with the rearing of the predatory mite Phytoseiulus persimilis. Over the years, we have further specialized in producing a big range of natural enemies and have several patents to our name. Our stability in breeding, quality, reliability, and secure delivery is well-known around the world. Our dedication and commitment to develop methods that enable growers to effectively introduce these solutions into their crops, ensuring optimal performance, is an integral part of our DNA.

Advantages of predatory mites

  • Precision targeting: Predatory mites have a remarkable ability to locate and prey upon specific pest species, minimizing damage to non-target organisms.

  • Resilient pest management: Predatory mites can build up a population in the crop and control pests for a long period of time.

  • Reduced pesticide dependence: The integration of predatory mites can lead to a reduction in the use of chemical pesticides, thereby lowering the ecological footprint of horticultural and agricultural operations.

  • Resistance management: By diversifying pest management strategies, predatory mites can help reduce the development of pest resistance to chemical treatments.

  • Biodiversity promotion: The introduction of predatory mites supports biodiversity by minimizing disruptions to the local ecosystem through the use of chemical pesticides.

  • Easy to use and integrate: Predatory mites can be used in combination with other beneficials, forming the foundation of many IPM systems.

Which pests do predatory mites control?

Predatory mites are known to control a variety of pests including spider mites, thrips, whitefly and fungus gnats. Some predatory mite species are specialized on particular pest targets (Spical, Spidex), while others are generalists (Swirski-Mite, Limonica, Montdo-Mite, Thripex, Macro-Mite, Entomite-M), capable of tackling a wide array of pests.

When introduced into an environment with pest infestations, they actively seek out their prey. Once they locate their target pests, predatory mites feed on them by piercing their prey's body and extracting their bodily fluids, causing their death. As predatory mites feed on pests, they also reproduce rapidly, leading to an increased population of beneficial mites. This population growth further enhances their pest control capabilities. Due to their population development, predatory mites not only reduce existing pest populations but also act as a deterrent to future infestations. The presence of beneficial mites can discourage pest outbreaks by creating an environment where pests are less likely to thrive.

Predatory mites for spider mite

Predatory mites are an effective biological solution to control spider mite. Phytoseiulus persimilis (Spidex) and Neoseiulus californicus (Spical) are specialized in feeding on spider mites. They both prey on spider mites at every stage of their life cycle.

Predatory mites for thrips

Several predatory mite species are commonly used for the control of thrips. Neoseiulus cucumeris (Thripex) and Amblyseius andersoni (Anso-Mite) excel in managing thrips populations. They can rapidly build up populations as they can also survive on pollen or other prey. Amblyseius swirskii (Swirski-Mite), Amblydromalus limonicus (Limonica) and Transeius montdorensis (Montdo-Mite) are generalist predatory mites which are also used for the control of thrips.

Predatory mites for whitefly

For the control of whitefly, predatory mites are highly effective. The generalist predatory mites Amblyseius swirskii (Swirski-Mite), Amblydromalus limonicus (Limonica) and Transeius montdorensis (Montdo-Mite) can be used to control whitefly.

Predatory mites for fungus gnats

There are two predatory mites species which are most effective for fungus gnats control, Macrocheles robustulus (Macro-Mite) and Stratiolaelaps scimitus (Entomite-M). These beneficial mites prey on the larvae of fungus gnats in the soil, preventing them from turning into adult fungus gnats.

Predatory mites packaging

Predatory mites in bottles

The standard packaging for predatory mites includes a bottle with a convenient dosing cap, simplifying the process of distributing them throughout the crop. Additionally, for certain products or crops, using a blower for dispersion is an available option. This approach proves particularly effective when a swift response is required due to a pest invading your crop, enabling you to introduce a substantial number of predatory mites at once.

Examples of predatory mite solutions in bottles are: Anso-Mite, Entomite-M, Limonica, Macro-Mite, Montdo-Mite, Spical, Spidex, Swirski-Mite and Thripex.

Predatory mites in sachets

If a gradual introduction of predatory mites is your preference, predatory mite sachets offer an optimal solution. Within these (slow release) sachets, you will find a combination of predatory mites, food, and carrier materials. The mites breed within the sachets and subsequently disperse into the crop. These release sachets are constructed from paper, rendering them particularly suitable for greenhouse applications.

Examples of predatory mites in paper sachets are: Anso-Mite Plus, Montdo-Mite Plus, Spical-Plus, Spidex Vital Plus, Swirski-Mite Plus, Swirski-Mite LD and Thripex-Plus.

For crops cultivated in tunnels, outdoor settings, or consistently high-humidity environments, our Ulti-Mite sachets present an optimal choice. These sachets contain the same components but come in an industrially compostable plastic packaging that offers superior protection to the predatory mites, against both excess moisture and drying out. This unique and patented system has demonstrated its practical effectiveness, enabling the use of predatory mites even in suboptimal conditions.

Examples of predatory mites in Ulti-Mite sachets are: Spical Ulti-Mite, Swirski Ulti-Mite and Montdo Ulti-Mite.

Predatory mite species

Koppert offers a diverse selection of predatory mite species, each designed to address specific pest control challenges in agriculture and horticulture. These predatory mite species include: Amblydromalus limonicus, Amblyseius andersoni, Amblyseius swirskii, Macrocheles robustulus, Neoseiulus californicus, Neoseiulus cucumeris, Phytoseiulus persimilis, Stratiolaelaps scimitus (Hypoaspis miles) & Transeius montdorensis.

How to use predatory mites?

Using predatory mites for pest control involves several key steps:

  1. Identification of pest: First, identify the specific pest species infesting your plants. Different predatory mites are effective against different pests, so knowing the target pest is crucial. Scouting is essential to know where the pest is, how severe the infestation is and to identify the pest.
  2. Select the right predatory mite: Choose the appropriate species of predatory mite that preys on the identified pest. Consult with a Koppert advisor or supplier if you're unsure.
  3. Release timing: Timing is essential and depends on factors like pest presence, pest density, crop type, and environmental conditions.
  4. Quantity: Determine the appropriate quantity of predatory mites needed based on factors such as the size of your crop and the severity of the pest infestation.
  5. Distribution: There are various methods to distribute predatory mites. You can sprinkle them directly onto the affected plants, use slow-release sachets, or employ specialized applicators like blowing devices, depending on your preference and the type of crop.
  6. Monitoring: Regularly monitor the pest and predatory mite populations to assess the effectiveness of biological control. Make adjustments to the release rate if necessary.
  7. Environmental conditions: Maintain optimal environmental conditions for the predatory mites. These conditions typically include adequate humidity and temperature ranges suitable for their activity.
  8. Avoid or check pesticide use: Refrain from using chemical pesticides simultaneously, as they can harm both pest and predatory mite populations. If chemical intervention is needed, first check the side effects of pesticides on the predatory mite by consulting our Side Effects App.
  9. Use alternative food if needed: Generalist predatory mites can be supplemented with alternative food, like Nutari and Nutemia, to survive and build a population.
  10. Repeat as necessary: Depending on the severity of the pest problem, multiple releases of predatory mites may be required. Follow the recommendations of your crop consultant for the frequency of releases.

How many predatory mites do I need? 

The dosage and frequency of predatory mites depends on climate, crop and pest density and should always be adjusted to the situation. Consult a Koppert advisor or a recognized distributor of Koppert products for advice on the best strategy for your situation.

Life cycle of Amblyseius swirskii
Life cycle of Amblyseius swirskii

Predatory mite life cycle and appearance

The life cycle of predatory mites consists of five developmental stages, including egg, larva, protonymph, deutonymph and adult. Predatory mites lay their eggs near pest-infested areas. The larvae have three pairs of legs. Depending on the predatory mite species larvae are active or inactive. Once the larva has moulted to the protonymph (with four pairs of legs) stage, it begins feeding immediately. During the protonymphal, deutonymphal and adult stages the mites feed almost continuously. Protonymphs and deutonymphs are similar to the adults in appearance, but smaller in size.

Predatory mites are typically measuring only a millimeter in length. Their bodies are often spherical.

They exhibit an array of colors, ranging from pale tan and translucent to deep red or brown. The colour of predatory mites can vary according to the prey eaten. If the food supply has been absent for some time, they become thinner and a uniformly light transparent colour.

Many species have finely sculpted bodies with bristles, setae, and hairs that aid in their movement and sensory perception.

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FAQ

  • Are predatory mites harmful to plants?
    Are predatory mites harmful to plants?

    No, predatory mites are harmless to plants. They focus solely on insects and do not damage plants in any way. Most species also feed on pollen.

  • How quickly do predatory mites work once released?
    How quickly do predatory mites work once released?

    Predatory mites start working immediately upon release. Their impact becomes noticeable as they reduce pest populations over the course of a few weeks.

  • How do I know if the predatory mites are working?
    How do I know if the predatory mites are working?

    A reduction in pest population, visible decline in pest damage, and overall healthier plant growth are indicators that predatory mites are successfully controlling the pests.

  • Can predatory mites be used indoors?
    Can predatory mites be used indoors?

    Yes, all species of predatory mites are suitable for indoor pest control, especially in greenhouse environments or indoor gardens.

  • Can predatory mites be used outdoors?
    Can predatory mites be used outdoors?

    Yes, predatory mites can be used outdoors for natural pest control in gardens and agricultural fields.

  • How do I release predatory mites?
    How do I release predatory mites?

    Predatory mites are usually released directly onto plants or soil. They disperse naturally and quickly establish colonies once released in areas with pest infestations. Through bottles, they can be distributed throughout the crop. By using sachets, the mites will breed within the sachets and subsequently slowly disperse into the crop. Additionally, the content of bottles can be distributed by using application advices such as Airobug. This results in a black of mites in your crop.

  • How many times do I need to release predatory mites?
    How many times do I need to release predatory mites?

    The frequency of releasing predatory mites depends on the pest pressure. Generally, releasing predatory mites multiple times over a period of a few weeks to a few months may be necessary to effectively control the pest population. Follow supplier instructions for effective control.

  • How long do predatory mites live?
    How long do predatory mites live?

    Predatory mites have a relatively short lifespan, usually a few weeks to a couple of months, but their rapid reproduction ensures a continuous population.

  • Are predatory mites safe for pets and humans?
    Are predatory mites safe for pets and humans?

    In general, predatory mites are harmless to pets, humans, and plants. They are non-toxic and pose no threat to the health of animals or people. However, some people have or develop an allergy. Read more about precautiony measurements for allergies.

  • Do predatory mites work in all climates?
    Do predatory mites work in all climates?

    Yes, in general predatory mites are adaptable and work effectively in various climates, making them a versatile solution for pest control in different regions. However, some species have difficulties in speicific conditions. Contact our consultants for more information about your conditions.

  • Are predatory mites a one-time solution or do they need regular application?
    Are predatory mites a one-time solution or do they need regular application?

    Depending on the severity of the pest problem, multiple releases of predatory mites may be necessary. Regular monitoring helps determine if additional releases are required to maintain pest control.

  • Can I see predatory mites with the naked eye?
    Can I see predatory mites with the naked eye?

    Predatory mites are extremely small, often not visible to the naked eye. You might need a magnifying glass to see them clearly.