A microscopic insect typically not found in Georgia could be a problem for the state’s tomato growers. It has been detected in the south-central part of the state. Growers need to take precautions to defend against it.
The tomato russet mite is in the Tifton area now. “This is not a ‘normal’ pest for Georgia tomato production as it generally does not over-winter here,” said Stormy Sparks, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension vegetable entomologist.
He says it is different type of mite than the more common two-spotted mite. Russet mites are almost microscopic and a 20x hand lens is needed to see them. They are small conical shaped mites with legs on the blunt end and tapered toward the rear. Their damage is reported primarily on tomato, but on rare occasions, damage eggplants, peppers and potatoes, too.
“Scouting is very difficult because of the small size. Similar to broad mites, the first sign is usually detection of their damage. They generally start low on the plant and cause a bronzing or golden discoloration of the stems and leaves. Leaves will also curl up,” he said.
Scouts are advised to look for the mites on the stems and upper and lower surface of leaves. “Look for the damage and then collect samples of discolored leaves and green leaves immediately above those leaves to check under a microscope for presence of the mites,” he said.
If treatment is needed, he said, it is important to remember not all acaraicides that work on two-spotted mites work on this species. It is a different type of mite and can respond differently to acaricides. Products that have russet mites on their lables include agri-mek (and generics), oberon, portal and dicofol.
Though the pickleworm and melonworm attack a variety of cucurbit crops, squash growers need to watch for them now, he said. The pests overwinter in South Florida and must migrate up each year to cause problems in Georgia. “They usually appear in significant numbers around mid-June. We have received reports of pickleworm and growers should be applying preventive sprays for this pest on the more susceptible crops, like squash,” he said.
The kudzu bug worried snap bean growers earlier in the season, but “as snap bean harvest has progressed, there have not been complaints of harvest problems or contamination. This is good news as this did remain a concern with this pest,” he said.