June 19, 2013 | On Solid Ground, CAHNRS | by Bob Hoffman
Dealing with mites in orchards is tricky business. Some of these tiny arthropods—barely, or not even visible to the human eye—suck juice from leaves, insidiously sapping plant vigor. Other species of mites are actually an orchardist’s friends, feeding on the pest mites and other insect pests. But as WSU researcher Stan Hoyt discovered in the 1960s, spraying pesticides to control key pests like codling moth often causes pest mite outbreaks because this form of control also kills the good (i.e., beneficial, predator) mites.