Two turf mites that are pinhead-sized pests that can cause extensive damage to already drought-stressed turfgrasses. There are 2 types of turf mite that are especially harmful: the reddish-brown clover mite and the green-colored banks grass mite. Most of the damage from these 2 insects will appear in early to mid spring. Turf mites can be problematic in the spring after especially dry winters. These turf damaging insects can cause large damaged areas that may be anywhere from 1 foot to 100's of feet.
There are many species of mites and some are actually beneficial in to the breakdown of thatch in the lawn.
Banks grass mite differs considerably in appearance from the other turf-damaging mites. It is smaller and lighter in color. Banks grass mites spend most of their time near the base of the turfgrass making them difficult to detect with chemical pesticides.
These pests do not like moist areas and so one effective prevention is to insure adequate water, especially during fall and spring around areas that have vertical surfaces.
Clover mites are smaller than the head of a pin. They can be varying colors from reddish brown to dark green. What makes them distinctive are the unusually long pair of front legs that identifies them from the common spider mite.
Damage is commonly found in sunny areas next to the southern exposure of buildings or other vertical surfaces which the mite use to periodically shed their skins.
Clover mite injury to turf is commonly mistaken for winter kill and usually is found in the same sunny, dry areas of the lawn where winter drying problems occur. Furthermore, almost all injury occurs within 10 feet of a building, tree or some other upright surface. This is because clover mites periodically climb out of a lawn to shed their old skins and lay eggs.