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Clover Mites: Startling, But Harmless

4/23/2013 12:00:00 AM
Clover Mites: Startling, But Harmless

They start appearing in early spring, after a bit of warm weather, crawling on the window sills: Tiny red bugs, so small that some people mistake them for dust. What are they? How are they getting in? How can they be stopped?

These tiny red bugs aren’t technically bugs at all, they’re arachnids. Clover mites have eight legs, and are related to spiders.

At less than one millimeter long, the clover mite is dwarfed by the head of a pin. Its reddish-brown coloring makes it easy to identify; when crushed, it might leave behind a red stain, which is pigmentation, not blood. Clover mites feed on grass, clover, flowers, etc., and do not bite humans or animals.

Unlike ants and other infesting pests, which enter structures for food, water, and harborage, clover mites are what we call accidental invaders. Attracted to well-fertilized lawns, they climb up the sunny side of a house and enter through windows and doors, and then congregate on and around window sills. Once inside, they die quickly, but can be cleaned up easily with a wet rag or vacuum cleaner.

Exclusion, or preventing pests from entering a structure, doesn’t work so well with the clover mite because of its size. The tiny holes in a window screen are open doors. Preventative pesticide treatments aren’t particularly effective, either, because it is difficult to predict when the tiny arachnids will become a problem. It’s more practical to treat them after they’ve arrived.

We treat clover mites with an indoor-outdoor insecticide application. Window sills and baseboards are treated inside, and the outside perimeter of the home is sprayed. This pest is among those covered by our Premium Protection Plan.

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