Predatory mites are a diverse group of small arthropods, between 0.2 to 3 millimeters in length, depending on the species. The body shape may vary slightly depending on the species, but they are generally oval to pear shaped, with no distinctive head part. Common colors include pale yellow, tan, beige, or reddish-brown. Some species may have a translucent or semi-transparent appearance.
Like spiders, they are arachnids, and possess eight legs. These legs are relatively long and slender, allowing them to move quickly across plant surfaces or through soil, and they are generally faster than pest mites.
In Australia, several species of predatory mites are commercially available and commonly used in agricultural practices.
Some of the most widely used predatory mite species include
- Red velvet mites (Trombidiidae sp.)
- Spiny snout mite (Neomulgus capillatus)
- Pasture snout mite (Odontoscirus lapidaria)
- Anystis mites (Anystis wallacei)
- Mesostigmata mites (Mesostigmata sp.)
- Montdorensis (Typhlodromips montdorensis)
- Persimilis (Phytoseiulus persimilis)
Redlegged earth mite
Different species of predatory mites have different habitat requirements.
- Red velvet mites have been historically noted in Canola crops.
- Snout mites are found right across the cool, higher rainfall regions of southern Australia, and are most effective in pasture crops such as Lucerne.
- Montdorensis are successful in various protected crops. They can also be used in non-protected crops if temperatures don't drop below 10°C for extended periods.
- Persimilis mites thrive in humid conditions and dense foliage crops. They perform best at temperatures between 15-28°C and relative humidity above 60%. They have been successfully used in various protected and field crops,
Simple habitat management can increase beneficial enemies like snout mites. Management strategies such as minimum tillage, the presence of shelterbelts, cover crops or inter-row cropping vegetation provide shelter and will increase snout mite numbers.