Bamboo Mites

island_murrFebruary 8, 2009

I own and operate a small bamboo nursery in British Columbia, Canada which lies just north of Washington State. I purchase a fair amount of my stock in Washington and IÂm afraid that I may have accidentally imported a very aggressive mite along with one of my bamboo shipments.

Two years ago, there were only a few leaves that showed signs of mite damage and at that time I thought that it was caused by some naturally occurring mite that exists in every outdoor garden. In 2008 my bamboo nursery experienced a population explosion of this pest and the result has been significant infestation of many of my bamboo plants. The mite has an affinity for most Phyllostachys species (Nigra, Henon, Megurochiku, etc.) it has not bothered my Fargesia, Borinda or Pleioblastus however. The leaf damage is significant and has resulted in unsightly leaves as well as stressed my bamboo to the point that they did not grow much last year at all.

Strategies I have tried to control the mite infestation:

1) I have removed and burned the infected leaves from each bamboo plant.

2) I have tried using insecticidal soap on the underside of the leaves but due to the number and size of my bamboo plants this isnÂt a realistic option.

3) I have imported predatory mites to eat the problematic mites but this was not even remotely successful.

I have purchased two insecticides that contain "Imidacloprid": Green Light Tree & Shrub Systemic Insect Killer  Imidacloprid 1.47% and Bayer Advanced Complete Insect Killer  Imidacloprid .72%. A bamboo nursery told me that the use of one or both of these products will be drawn into the plant tissue and when the mite begins to suck the juices from the leaves, they will ingest the insecticide and die. This will supposedly produce a systemic wide defense from these mites and should last the entire year.

The problem with these insecticides is that the dosage listed on the label is rated as if you are spraying this product on a lawn or garden area where the plant is rooted in the ground. My bamboo are all in pots so IÂm not sure if I should use the same dosage, more or less. I tried a little of this product in the fall of 2008 but didnÂt notice any difference in my plants  maybe it takes more time.

In summary I have a nasty problem and I could really use some good advice on how to eliminate this mite. If you have any comments I may find useful please forward them to me if you have time or point me in the direction (website, email, etc.) where I may find some assistance.

Thank you very much.

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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

I have quite a bit of bamboo in pots and in the ground (about 90 species) and mite control is something I have to be vigilant about. I'm of the opinion that you can never permanently eradicate mites, but you can control them very well without a huge amount of effort. I hate to use chemicals on any of my plants, but I make an exception with bamboo mites. My chemical of choice is Avid (Abamectin). I like it because it's very effective, and does not appear to pose a significant toxic risk to humans, pets, or other animals. It's not a pesticide, in the sense of killing mites outright; it's simply a chemical that interferes with their reproductive cycle. Mites have a short life cycle, so two sprays about a week apart takes them out . Here is what works for me:

-Choose a non-windy day in spring where it won't rain for a couple of days, but preferably a day where it also won't be full sun.
-Mix up the solution in a backpack sprayer according to the dilution directions, along with several mls per gallon of horticultural oil (which helps suffocate the mites).
-Spray all foliage, with special attention to the underside of the leaves where the mite webs are.
-Repeat in 7-10 days...that should take care of your problem for the year.
-Quarantine any new plants and make sure you spray them.

Mite-damaged leaves won't recover a healthy appearance, but seasonal leaf growth and turnover will have your plants looking like new by the end of summer. I also don't necessarily spray everything each year...just when I notice I'm getting a problem again.

The only caution I have about using Avid is that it can also interfere with bee reproduction, so you want to be careful not to spray bees directly or let drift from the spray get on them.

Here is a link that might be useful: Avid

    Bookmark   February 9, 2009 at 2:38AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Talk to other bamboo outlets, this is a ubiquitous problem in this region. A high percentage of local plantings are infested but I have not noticed a marked effect on growth - certainly no coming of the plants to a standstill. I wonder if you have mistaken another factor affecting the growth for an effect of the mites.

To see if the mites had a stunting effect an organized test would have to be conducted using matching blocks of infested and non-infested plants that were given identical conditions except for the one set having mites. A method to quantify any differences such as weighing all the plants at the end of the study would have to be undertaken.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 10:56PM
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I have used the imidacloprid type chemicals with good success for bamboo mite, as well as normal spider mite and aphids. one dose takes the aphids right out, but on the mites, I have had to tread a couple times, a month apart. I use the amount indicated for a shrub- so many ounces per foot of height, even for the plants in pots. pluck off and burn any leaves that have the mite damage visible, treat the plants, then a month or two later treat again. I have never had the mites come back. I now treat any plant I get in, just as a precautionary measure because bamboo mite is so prevalent, and my collection this far has been mite free.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2009 at 11:50AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

In this area it's pretty much like mildewing of rhododendrons and black spot and mildew of roses, scab on apples - if you want a full performance from the plant you have to find a resistant type (if there really are any, in the case of bamboo mites) or spray religiously.

If something gets too ugly I just take it out.

Life's too short.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 10:51PM
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Thanks for you thoughts everyone :)

    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 12:38PM
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booboy(Zone8 BC Canada)

I have been dealing with the same problem and to be honest with you I have pretty much given up. I would rather spend more time with my family and other things than to constantly battle mites. I also have attempted to start a nursery. When the plants look like **** they are hard to sell.. especially to garden centers. I sell the odd plant through buy and sell adds but I will stick to my landscaping business. Ps do you have a website for your nursery.

Morris Nanaimo

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 2:59PM
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island murr , how can I contact you by email or phone
regarding these bamboo mites

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 5:58PM
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