Entomology (Study of Bugs)/mystery mites


mite on 2mm cable
mite on 2mm cable  

mite on leaf
mite on leaf  
Hi Dr Saugstad,

i grow orchids as a hobby and lately my greenhouse have an infestation of mystery mites, they are very tiny, white in color, and tend to crawl all around the pots, bark compost, the leaves etc..

i am not sure if they are doing any damage as they seem to be always on the move, and occasionally settling down on leaves which is abit worrying. not sure if they are the dreaded broad mite or cyclamen mite? but considering the cyclamen and broad tarsonemid mites are very dangerous, i hope they are not as it seems damage to the plants has not visible... yet!? (i hope!)

i got some  photos attached, if you look at photo 601, that black cable in comparison to the size of the mites, the cable diameter is about 2mm or 2.5mm, is that sufficient for a sense of scale?

i have more photos to upload but seems i can only upload 2 at a time, i would love to take a better show but it seems its reached the limit of my camera's macro capabilities.

they are driving me nuts and considering my large collection of exotic orchids i would like to find out if they are harmful or not, i hope they are just some wort of mold or grain mites.


Dear Joel - I will first readily admit that I am not an expert on mites, but to my eye at least, these look more like saprophytic or granivourous/flour mites than plant pests. I can only suggest
that you look at the information at http://tinyurl.com/p7xgt52, http://tinyurl.com/kw9qlzm, and http://tinyurl.com/lk9md5q to see if can help you reach a control decision.

Sorry not to be of more definitive assistance,

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Ed Saugstad


Will accept most questions in general entomology, including those related to medical entomology, taxonomy, ecology, arthropod surveillance, and pest management. If you are requesting a 'mystery bug' identification, PLEASE either attach an image to your question, or post an image on a web page (such as Flickr) so that I can look at it, as verbal descriptions frequently are insufficient for a definitive identification.


21 years in the U.S. Army as a medical entomologist; duties varied from surveillance of pest populations (including mosquitoes, cockroaches, ticks, and stored products pests) to conducting research on mosquito-virus ecological relationships and mosquito faunal studies. Ten years as a civilian analyst for the Department of Defense, primarily on distribution of vector-borne diseases worldwide. Limited experience on surveillance of agricultural insects in North Dakota and Indiana.

Entomological Society of America, West Virginia Entomological Society, Society for Vector Ecology, National Speleological Society, West Virginia Association for Cave Studies.

American Journal of Public Health, Contributions of the American Entomological Institute, Japanese Journal of Sanitary Zoology, Journal of Economic Entomology, Mosquito News, and Mosquito Systematics.

B.S. in entomology from North Dakota State University in 1963, M.S. in entomology from Purdue University in 1967.

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