Agriculture: Strawberry Pest Management Guidelines

Lewis Spider Mite

  • Eotetranychus lewisi
  • Description of the Pest

    Lewis mite has emerged as an occasional pest of strawberries, primarily in Oxnard, Salinas, and other coastal production regions. Lewis spider mite, or Lewis mite, infests the undersides of strawberry leaves, where they may form colonies and produce light webbing when abundant. Lewis spider mites are very small (about 0.01–0.014 inch in length) and are barely visible to the naked eye. The Lewis spider mite undergoes one larval and two nymphal stages before becoming an adult. Mobile mites are green to a yellowish. Under a hand lens, multiple dark blotches can be seen on each side of the adult mite's body. Eyes appear as two red eyespots. Lewis spider mite eggs are laid on the undersides of leaves and are spherical, clear, and colorless when laid but become pearly white as hatch approaches. Lewis spider mite colonies often first appear near leaf edges or veins. Eggs emerge about 3 days after they are laid, and the lifecycle from egg to adult emergence occurs in about 14 days, at 77°F. Development time takes longer at lower temperatures.

    Lewis spider mite has a wide host range, including ornamentals such as poinsettia and roses. It can also be found on weeds, such as castor bean, in and around the field. With the onset of warm weather, these mites migrate to the foliage of the plant and begin to lay eggs. In the mild winter coastal growing regions of California, it is unusual for a large percentage of mites to become dormant; instead they continue to grow and lay eggs, although at a slower pace during the winter months than in summer. The Lewis spider mite undergoes one larval and two nymphal stages before becoming an adult. The life cycle, under ideal conditions of hot and dry weather, can take place in 10 days.


    Spider mites, including the Lewis spider mite, feed on plant juices and cause a yellow stippling on the leaf surface. As the number of mites grows and feeding progresses, leaves turn yellowish brown before drying up and falling off. Feeding by Lewis spider mites on fruiting strawberries reduces plant vigor and fruit yield and size.


    The key to successful management of Lewis spider mites is to monitor their numbers and to initiate insecticide applications in a timely manner. Once mite numbers are high, damage has already occurred, and the mite numbers are difficult to control.

    Biological Control

    The most effective biological control agent of Lewis spider mite are the predatory mites Neoseiulus californicus, N. fallacis, and Amblyseius andersoni, which are introduced species. N. californicus does best in temperatures of 50º to 91ºF, so it is compatible with both spider mite and strawberry plant development. Although they occur naturally in California strawberry production areas, they may be purchased and released in fields for additional control.

    It is best to release predatory mites during cool mornings and avoid releasing them during high dry winds. Release the predatory mites early in the season, before spider mite populations build up. Apply predatory mites at the rate of 10,000 to 20,000 per acre in conventional fields and 40,000 or more per acre in organic fields.

    Phytoseiulus persimilis is not an effective predator of Lewis spider mite.

    Cultural Control

    Roguing (removing) heavily infested plants can reduce mite numbers. Controlling dust by watering or oiling surrounding roads and planting dust control barriers helps to reduce Lewis spider mite numbers.

    Organically Acceptable Methods

    Use cultural and biological controls including the release of predatory mites, and narrow range oil sprays, such as Organic JMS Stylet oil, on organic strawberries.

    Monitoring and Treatment Decisions

    Learn to differentiate between Lewis and twospotted spider mites, since the control strategies for the two mites are different. No precise treatment thresholds have been established for Lewis spider mites in strawberries. Monitor to keep track of increasing pest mite numbers as well as predatory mite numbers to determine the risk that populations will continue to grow. A ratio of 1 predator to 10 Lewis spider mites is considered favorable for biological control. Good under-leaf coverage is essential when applying acaricides. This is especially important with non-residual products such as the spray oils, since mites that escape contact with the spray will survive.
    Common name Amount per acre REI‡ PHI‡
    (Example trade name) (hours) (days)
    Not all registered pesticides are listed. The following are ranked with the pesticides having the greatest IPM value listed first—the most effective and least harmful to natural enemies, honey bees, and the environment are at the top of the table. When choosing a pesticide, consider information relating to air and water quality, resistance management, and the pesticide's properties and application timing. Always read the label of the product being used.
      (Organic JMS Stylet Oil) 3 qt 4 0
      MODE OF ACTION: Contact including smothering and barrier effects.
      COMMENTS: Amount is for 100 gal/acre; may use up to 150 gal/acre water carrier. Spray with ground equipment for optimum coverage of leaf surfaces. Oil sprays need to be applied frequently to achieve acceptable control, however, frequent applications of oils can damage the plant and compromise fruit yield. Heed label warnings about compatibility with other pesticides.
      (Acramite 50WS) 0.75–1 lb 12 1
      COMMENTS: Use permitted on bearing and non-bearing crops. PHI is for bearing canes. Use minimum of 50 gal water/acre.
      (Savey 50 DF) 4–6 oz 12 3
      COMMENTS: Do not make more than one application per year.
      (Agri-mek SC) 3.5 fl oz 12 3
      COMMENTS: Toxic to predatory mites and relatively toxic to parasites, but fairly safe for general predators.
      (Nealta) 13.7 fl oz 12 1
      COMMENTS: For resistance management, do not make more than one Nealta application before rotating to a miticide with a different mode of action.
    F. NEEM OIL#
      (Trilogy) 1–2 gal/100 gal water 4 0
      MODE OF ACTION: Unknown. A botanical insecticide.
      COMMENTS: Apply with sufficient water carrier to provide complete coverage. Most effective when applied before mites and eggs are present in large numbers. Repeat applications on 7- to 21-day intervals until mite numbers and damage reach acceptable levels. Oil sprays need to be applied frequently to achieve acceptable control, however, frequent applications of oils can damage the plant and compromise fruit yield.
      (Neemix 4.5) Label rates 4 0
      COMMENTS: An insect growth regulator.
      (GC-Mite) 1 gal/100 gal water 0 0
      COMMENTS: Good coverage is essential for control; the use of a spreader/sticker may improve contact and efficacy of treatment. Oil sprays need to be applied frequently to achieve acceptable control, however, frequent applications of oils can damage the plant and compromise fruit yield. Apply no more than once in a 7-day period.
      (Cinnacure A3005) 1–2 gal 4 0
      MODE OF ACTION: A botanical miticide.
      COMMENTS: Apply in 100 to 200 gal water/acre, apply every 10 days and check for phytotoxicity.
    Restricted entry interval (REI) is the number of hours (unless otherwise noted) from treatment until the treated area can be safely entered without protective clothing. Preharvest interval (PHI) is the number of days from treatment to harvest. In some cases, the REI exceeds the PHI. The longer of two intervals is the minimum time that must elapse before harvest.
    # Acceptable for use on organically grown produce.
    1 Rotate insecticides with a different mode-of-action group number, and do not use products with the same mode-of-action group number more than twice per season to help prevent development of resistance. For example, the organophosphates have a group number of 1B; insecticides with a 1B group number should be alternated with insecticides that have a group number other than 1B. Mode-of-action group numbers for insecticides and miticides (un=unknown or uncertain mode of action) are assigned by IRAC (Insecticide Resistance Action Committee).
    * Permit required from county agricultural commissioner for purchase or use.
    NA Not applicable.
    Text Updated: 07/18
    Treatment Table Updated: 07/18