February 2018

Clover mites, lamium announce early arrival of spring

Clover mites. Photo courtesy Purdue University

Because the winter has been incredibly mild, many people are asking if there will be more insects this year.

Purdue University Entomologist Tim Gibb says Indiana’s 11th warmest winter probably didn’t hurt insects or help them.

Bugs have behavioral and physiological ways of buffeting the cold and usually are unaffected by winter temperatures mild or fierce, says Gibbs in a posting at Purdue’s Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory Website.

However, when insects emerge from their winter doldrums is temperature related and people may see bugs earlier than normal when the season has been mild.

“In fact, we are already seeing the late winter emergence of many arthropods such as lady beetles, clover mites and crane flies that usually begin later in March,” Gibbs says.

Clover mite size. Photo courtesy Purdue University

Right now, clover mites are on the radar.

The mites congregate in newer lawns and migrate in fall and late winter. “Clover mites are small enough to squeeze through the tiniest of cracks and openings in buildings, making it nearly impossible to seal them out,” Gibbs says.

Although their presence can creep people out, clover mites are harmless to humans and pets. However, wiping them up often leaves brown-red smears that are difficult to clean.

Gibbs recommends applying a double-sided tape around windowsills to help stop mites from gaining access. Once indoors, the mites quickly dehydrate and can be swept up with a vacuum cleaner.

Hoosiers will probably see more garden weeds.

Mild temperatures prompt the germination of winter weeds, such as  lamium (Lamium purpureum) and Persian speedwell (Veronica persica), which seem particularly rampant this spring.

Lamium purpureum. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Black medic (Medicago lupulina), a summer annual weed, also has appeared already. Dandelions (Taraxcum), a perennial weed, never seemed to go away. They bloomed periodically all winter.

Pull, hoe out or treat weeds as soon as you see them. If using an herbicide, read and follow the label directions so desired plants will not be harmed.


1 comment to Clover mites, lamium announce early arrival of spring

  • irvin

    THe Lamium and chickweed are simply lush in the back garden. They take full advantage of the manure and mulch.