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Trombidium holosericeum spreads like a swarm in numerous German gardens in the summer months. The clearly visible red velvet mites often stay in close proximity to humans and are viewed by many with disgust. No wonder, the arachnids, which are between one and four millimeters in size, crawl around on the terrace or on the garden furniture and even move into the living room. If an infestation by the actual beneficial insects occurs, many people and gardeners are looking for suitable methods to get rid of them again. When combating the red velvet mite, it is important to check whether it is actually this species or another mite species. There are small red arachnids in many families.

Red velvet mite

Caution: risk of confusion!

Yes, the red velvet mite can be confused with another, much better known mite: the red spider. Also known as the fruit tree spider mite, Panonychus ulmi is one of the biggest pests in German and Central European gardens. They prefer to attack fruit trees and vines and can cause immense damage that will stun a proud apple tree. Fruit tree spider mites are controlled in a completely different way than red velvet mites. For this reason, you should know the differences between the two mites:

Recognizing and distinguishing mites

Red velvet mite

  • Size: 1 to 4mm
  • densely hairy
  • scarlet
  • Body acts like velvet
  • significantly enlarged abdomen
  • long front legs
  • small eyes
  • Jaw claws are reminiscent of scissors
  • soft-skinned
  • prefer dry and warm habitats
  • mostly inhabit forest edges, masonry and dry lawns
  • in the garden it is mostly terraces and walls
Red velvet mite, Trombidium holosericeum

The red velvet mite is one beneficial, since he chose neither man, animal nor plant as a target. As larvae and as adults, the mites eat insects and other arachnids, above all butterflies, some beetles such as the vine weevil and many more. The biggest advantage of the mites: they suck the insect eggs of numerous pests, which is ideal for containing this population.

fruit tree spider mite

  • Size: 0.5 to 0.6mm
  • carmine
  • some clearly protruding bristles on the back of the females
  • significantly smaller head
  • the body shape is clumsier, not so pronounced
  • can be found on fruit trees, vines and other shrubs
Red spider, Panonychus ulmi

Most often, gardeners will not jump to that pests attention, but to the damage caused after the infestation:

  • Leaves show bright spots from spring
  • these may be mottled
  • Leaves are turning a sickly shade of yellow
  • Mites, larvae and eggs are mainly found on the underside of the leaves
  • cobweb-like structures can also be seen
  • Leaves are drying up more and more
  • gradually fall off

As you can see, you always have to check which mite it is. Since you don't need to remove red velvet mites like the fruit tree spider mite, this comparison is important. However, since the velvet mite is not interested in plants, but keeps the overpopulation caused by pests in check, it does not pose a threat.

tip: Another possible risk of confusion is with the Tarsonemus pallidus fragariae, the strawberry soft skin mite. This is between half a millimeter and one millimeter long, slightly more orange in color and mainly affects strawberry plants (bot. Fragaria), but also other plants in the garden.

Fight red velvet mite: 5 tips

As you can tell from the way the red velvet mite lives, this arachnid is a natural one beneficial. Even if these occur in large numbers, they do not pose any danger to humans, animals or plants and even help to destroy pests. Nevertheless, it can happen that the red creepy-crawlies colonize your living space or disturb everyday life. Below are 5 ways to keep the red velvet mite away.

1. Insect screen

An effective way to keep red velvet mites out of your home is to use insect screens. You can choose commercially available models here, because these are sufficient due to the size of the mites. Trombidium holosericeum can only spread in their living quarters if the arachnids get into them. With insect screens on doors and windows, the mites cannot find their way into your house and stay outside. You should think about using the grilles, especially on the following floors:

  • basement, cellar
  • ground floor
  • mezzanine
insect screen

A subsequent terrace is ideal for the arachnids to get into your house, as they like to stay there due to the drought and higher temperatures. An advantage of the insect screens is the possibility to ventilate. Although these do not work in the garden, they ensure a restful sleep.

2. Closed windows and doors

As an alternative to the insect screens, simply leave your doors and windows closed for a longer period of time, especially overnight. Since the red velvet mite is looking for a warm place to stay at night, open doors and windows are an invitation. You should therefore keep them closed especially at these times of the day. Also consider this tip end of the summer pursue, since the mites can lodge over the winter.

3. water

Since the mites are arachnids that prefer dry conditions, it is not surprising that water can be used effectively against them. However, there is no use spraying the animals directly here, as they should not necessarily be killed for their usefulness, especially if you are the proud owner of a garden. Moisture in the garden will help deprive velvet mites of potential habitats mentioned above, which would otherwise become completely populated within a few days. The following points will help you to drive away the animals with water:

  • Regularly spray stone surfaces with a garden hose
  • choose a high level
  • especially natural stones have to be hosed down
  • also spatter stone walls
  • water more frequently during periods of intense drought
  • Water the lawn regularly
  • Wash garden furniture regularly

It is normal that red velvet mite infestations are less common in humid areas of Germany. This is what makes the use of water so effective. However, you should avoid this method if the higher humidity causes problems from other plants or even pests.

4. Thick-walled glass

Building a glass barrier in your garden helps with many insects and arachnids. This does not mean a glass fence, but thick-walled bottles or large glasses. The surface is unpleasant for the mites and for this reason they refrain from moving over it. You can take advantage of this by framing your terrace or a wall with glasses, for example. These are embedded in the ground, fixed and thus represent a barrier for the mites. Depending on the severity of the infestation, this barrier can work wonders.

5. Last resort bug spray

If none of the tips mentioned so far can be implemented for you or really work, you can resort to the chemical club. Keep in mind that sprays that create an odor barrier that animals do not want to cross are the main help for mites. Sprays that kill the arachnid, on the other hand, don't really help the mites. However, these biocidal products have some disadvantages and need to be used extra carefully because you don't want to poison yourself because of the following points:

  • are highly flammable
  • can severely contaminate garden water sources
  • particularly toxic to aquatic organisms
  • irritates the mucous membranes and skin
  • can cause cracks in the skin if used incorrectly

These are just some of the disadvantages that these products bring with them. Sufficient distance is important when using it and it is best not to use it in your own house or apartment. If you have important pollinating insects in your garden, you should keep your hands off the biocides. Only use this if the infestation has spread so much that you are no longer comfortable with your everyday life. The advantage of the biocides: They are usually with a long-term effect lasting between six weeks and six months.

If the arachnids are really too rampant in their population and populate the entire house or patio, you should contact an exterminator. In any case, be careful not to crush or wipe away the animals. The mites leave behind red spots that are mostly seen on clothing and surfaces. So be careful not to damage them as the stains are difficult to remove.

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