Strawberries can be successfully grown in greenhouses in containers or hydroponically for propagule, plant, or fruit production. Recently, a crop of strawberries growing in a greenhouse with a mix of floriculture crops was observed to have slight to severe bronzing and stippling leaves wrapped in webs upon which populations of spider mites were also observed. Individual leaf conditions varied indirectly with leaf age; younger leaves showed less symptomology than older leaves, which had served more time as feeding/breeding grounds for spider mite populations.
At the time that these spider mites were observed, populations had already exceeded 15-20 mites per leaflet, and overall plant health had drastically declined.
Spider mites are tiny arthropods belonging to the class Arachnida, named for the webs that they create on their host plants. The three most common species of spider mites reported to impact strawberry crops are two-spotted spider mites, carmine spider mites, and strawberry spider mites. However, of these three species, the two-spotted spider mite is the most common spider mite in agriculture, with a wide host range of over 1,100 plant species. Most readily identified by the dark spots on either side of their abdomens, these mites will create strands and layers of silky webbing on the upper and lower leaf surfaces of their host plants.
Early signs and symptoms are less noticeable than bronzed leaves and webs, but with careful and trained eyes, scouts may be able to locate pioneer spider mites within days of infestation. The first symptom to appear on newly infested plants comes in as pale white-to-yellow stippling (or speckling) on leaves.
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