Turf mites

Asked July 15, 2014, 7:45 PM EDT

My lawn is only two years old, and both years it had turf mites at the beginning of Spring. The first year, the lawn all came back. This year, about 75 square feet completely died.

I was under the impression that I could spray for mites at the end of winter/beginning of Spring, to prevent them. Now that I'm looking into it further on the Web, it sounds like you are supposed to wait and see if you have them, and then treat it.

I would like to prevent them. I do know you are supposed to water during winter and early spring, and that is supposed to be a good preventative measure.

Is there a preventive insect control spray/treatment that can be used rather than waiting until the lawn has them?

Thank you.

Jefferson County Colorado lawns and turf

5 Responses

The best preventive for turfgrass mites is water. The pests proliferate on drought stressed turf, typically south and west facing areas, particularly those that are sloped. Apply the water in the fall and winter months during warm, dry spells. This will help keep crowns and roots hydrated and may make the plants less attractive to the mites.
As far as a pesticide goes, look for one containing either bifenthrin or lambda-cyhalothrin. Turf mites can be active from February to May. Having the pesticide applied earlier during this period, rather than later, can keep populations managed.

Thank you, Mary. My lawn is south facing and slightly sloped. :(.

Could you say more about watering during winter? I learned after the first year of mites that I should water more during winter. So, the 2nd year it seemed like there just weren't any good days to water. I think I did water once or twice all winter.

It's my understanding that the temperature should be above 40 degrees F and you don't want it freezing overnight the day or night that you water, and of course there should not be snow on the ground. I think I may be mistaken here. Anyway, with those parameters, it was hard to find a time to water.

Does it matter if I water and then it freezes that night or soon? I think that was the biggest problem for me. It was a cold cold winter last year.

Thank you very much for your help. I may be paying mucho $$ to reseed the 70 sq. ft. that has died and to overseed the rest of the front and back lawns. I want to try to take better care of it. I'm going to see if I can buy a mite pesticide and apply it myself. Otherwise I have a $75 per treatment quote from once place.

Both fall and winter are good times to water. So you could begin as early as November 1 and continue roughly monthly unless there is rain/snow melt and/or snow cover.
Yes, temperatures above 40 degrees F are recommended. Water early enough in the day so that it penetrates the soil before the sun begins to set.

The main thing you want to avoid is standing water on the turf surface or around the trunks of trees and shrubs. I don't recall how the weather was last year, but I know the previous couple years I watered between Christmas and New Year's. You're right, if the weather isn't cooperative as far as temperatures (and your availability at the "correct" time, there's not much you can do about it!

Thank you, again, Mary. Sorry to be writing again. I just want to be sure about the freezing issue. I am probably dense. :(, plus, I worry.

Is it okay to water, say in the morning if the temp is above 40, but the forecast is for below freezing that night? That was my main problem last year. Every night for weeks at a time went below freezing, so I thought I shouldn't water even if it was warmer during the day.

Yes, it is okay to water in the morning if the temp is above 40 degrees, even if it is supposed to go below freezing at night. The most important thing is to water early enough in the day so it has time to soak in.