Mite (Gorse mite) Tetranychus lintearius

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Chelicerata
Class: Arachnida
Subclass: Acari
Superorder: Acariformes
Order: Prostigmata
Family: Tetranychidae 
Genus: Tetranychus
Species: T. lintearius 
Binomial name: Tetranychus lintearius
Common name: Gorse spider mite

Tetranychus lintearius is a species of spider mite known as the gorse spider mite. It was imported from England 1988 as an agent of biological pest control on common gorse, a noxious weed. The adult mite is half a millimetre long and bright red. It lives in colonies in a shelter of spun silk spanning many branch tips. Infested plants are easily identifiable by these cobweb-like sheets of silk, which can grow quite large. The female lays one to four eggs per day during her three- to four-week adult lifespan. The tiny nymph is small enough to disperse on the wind during its first stage. Those that stay behind populate the colony as it expands. This mite is native to Europe, where it does more damage to the plant than any other organism. The mite appears to be host-specific; it does not attack any other plants. The adult and nymph damage the plant by piercing its tissues during feeding. Heavy mite activity reduces flowering and can stunt the development of the branches but does not kill the plant.

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