Houseplant Pests – Cyclamen mite

This close relative of the red spider mite is difficult to spot since it starts feeding in the folds of young leaves and in unopened buds. The damage it causes, however, shows up when the leaves expand. Infested leaves are distorted, hardened and covered with small brown scars. Flowers opening from infested buds are spoilt by streaks and blotches. In severe cases the buds may simply wither and die without opening. Cyclamen mites breed continuously throughout the year, the eggs being laid in young developing leaves and in flower buds. The life cycle is completed in 14-28 days.

Plants attacked

These include azalea, chrysanthemum, cyclamen, fuchsia, gloxinia, Impatiens, Hedera (ivy) and Sathtpaulia.

Control measures

Daily misting of the plants with water reduces the risk of attack. Infestations of cyclamen mite can be controlled by spraying with insecticides containing dimethoate, malathion or pirimiphos.methyl. Two or three applications at 2-4 week intervals will, however, be needed to eliminate the pest. Care must also be taken to ensure that the spray penetrates into the folds of the young leaves.