Persea mites are a common pest of avocado bearing foliage!
Thankfully, with some patience, you can effectively eliminate them from your garden with some basic practices to control, eliminate, and manage those mites.
Most mites will leave on their own when fruit is completely harvested or your plants are strong. But you can help speed it up by intervening.
In this guide, you’ll learn about the following:
- Why your avocado is infested with persea mites
- How to identify persea mites
- Find out where they’re coming
- Uncover signs of their damage and what to look for to spot them
- How to get rid of persea mites naturally
- Ways to keep them off your avocado for good
- And more
Feel free to bookmark this page so you can find it easily later on. It’s written to be referred back to when necessary. Not to be read like a book.
If you have any questions, drop a comment at the end of this page and I’ll try to get back to you- as always!
Let’s dive in and save your avocados…for yourself. Not for mites.
What’s a Persea mite?
Persea mites are predatory mites from the Tetranychidae family.
They’re known as Oligonychus perseae, part of the Trombidiformes order.
If you’ve grown avocados, you probably heard of them. They’re notorious for destroying California avocados- considered to be one of the top avocado pests in CA. They’re also found on ornamentals.
They’ll eat through the avocado leaves, which makes them turn yellow, brown, or have holes between the leaf veins. They also create a white or gray webbing on the leaves, which can be quite ugly.
If you’re situated in CA and you’re trying to grow avocado, Persea mites are likely the bug that’s eating up the foliage of your plant. Persea mites are about 0.5mm in length, so they’re tiny.
They’re found everywhere in CA where avocado is grown, but not the Central Valley.
These mites were first discovered in California in the early 1990s.
Since they’re tiny and lightweight, it allows them to “fly” between avocado plants by wind currents. They also may be found in stone fruit trees, but they aren’t predatory for these fruits.
Persea mites haven’t been observed on stone fruit nowadays, but are still found on avocado where they feed on its foliage of it.
Persea mites have several nomenclatures, but many of them are often mistaken. Normal people aren’t trained in identifying these kinds of bugs.
Here are some other nicknames that Persea mites may be called:
- Avocado brown mites
- Six Spotted mites
- Yellow mites
- Brown mites
- Avocado mites
- Persea bugs
Are persea mites spider mites?
No, persea mites aren’t those red or orange spider mites you commonly see on garden plants.
While they are an arachnid with 8 legs, and they look like a spider, they’re not the same as spider mites.
Spider mites have their own classification, Tetranychus urticae, which are not the same as persea mites, Oligonychus perseae.
Appearance and identification
Mated females will find a nest that they cover with silk. These looked like webby patches that are found within the foliage.
Females are ovular, flat, and elongated when full size. Young nymphs are yellow or green with small dark spots on their underside. Males are smaller than females with pear-shaped, flat bodies.
They’re yellowish just like females, but don’t have small dark spots. That is how you can tell the difference between male vs. female persea mites.
The lifecycle of these mites is no different from most mites. Persea mites come from eggs that are deposited through adult females.
They lay up to 48 eggs during their entire reproductive cycle. The eggs are spherical, white-yellow, sticky, and will start to get eye spots as they incubate on the host plant.
The nymphs will begin feeding shortly on the same plant they were deposited on. They have 6 legs as larvae.
Over time, they’ll get bigger and morph into 8-legged adults.
Nymph to adult is about 3 weeks, but will change depending on the ambient temperature. Most CA temps range in the 70s, which is ideal for their germination.
The time to hatch can be estimated by the temperature. Cooler tempers will reduce mite populations, while warmer temperatures speed up germination time.
The nymphs will turn into adults quicker when temperatures are higher, which is usually around July to August.
March generally has the lowest insect density for Persea mites.
When temperatures are too high (above 100F) or humidity is too low (below 50%), their numbers will drop very quickly.
What do they eat? What does persea damage look like?
Persea mites will consume most avocado varieties but have a sweet tooth for Gwen, Hass, Esther, Reed, Fuerte, Zutano, Lamb Hass, Pinkerton, Bacon, or similar types.
Some avocados are more vulnerable than others.
Signs of persea damage include defoliation, sunburned fruit, aborted fruit, yellowing or browning of the leaves, burned bark, leaf dropping, leaf drop, or reduced avocado yields.
Constant feeding of avocado foliage will lead to brown spots on the lower leaf surface. With continued feeding, they can be seen on the leaf surfaces too.
Webbing may also be seen on the underside of the leaf. It looks like silver spider webs.
It resembles dense, silvery spots on the leaf bottom. If it’s less dense, it can be the damage from a six-spotted mite.
Roundish, scattered spots on the leaves are signs of persea mites as well.
But brown or purple blotches are not.
Persea mites feed by eating throughout the lower leaf and rarely on the top of the leaf. Heavily infested avocados will show up with lighter color foliage.
Mite feeding can be caused by avocado brown mites or even the six spotted pests.
If the upper leaf surfaces look bronzed or burned, it’s likely NOT the persea mite. Their feeding damage is circular, but another mite damage is confined next to leaf veins.
When they consume at least 10% of the leaf surface, it’s likely to drop off. Healthy avocado leaves are imperative for crop production.
If the leaves are even partially damaged by insects, it can reduce the ability for it to photosynthesize, which can then result in fewer tomatoes, poor taste, texture, or size of the fruit.
Where do they hide?
Persea mites typically can be found on the undersides of leaves on avocado fruit trees.
But they’re extremely tiny, so it can be hard to spot them without magnification. You can use your phone’s camera zoom to get a closer look.
But their bright colors may help make identifying them easier.
Check the following locations:
- Leaf surfaces
- Under leaves
- Within silvery webbing
- On the branches
- Eating damaged avocado fruit
Note that these mites won’t eat avocado fruit that’s still in undamaged condition. They prefer fruit that’s been split for easy access over the fruit’s hard skin.
If your avocado fruit is in good condition for extended periods, persea mites will perish.
Are they dangerous?
Persea mites pose little to no harm towards humans. They’re considered to be a predatory mite that is a key pest for California-grown avocados.
While they won’t harm you, they’ll gladly eat up your crops. But you should still exercise caution and wear protective equipment when dealing with insects.
Where do Persea mites come from?
Persea mites come from neighboring infestations. As mentioned earlier, they were first found in CA in the 90s.
Since then, their populations have dwindled, but you can still get outbreaks if you have avocados growing in your garden.
It’s possible that you may have introduced them to your garden from the following vectors:
- Infested plants that were recently purchased (this is why you quarantine new foliage)
- Infested plants from your neighbors
- Pest introduction through wind currents
These mites will develop white/silver nests that look like dense spider webs. They feed beneath this cover. If you spot these webs on your foliage, persea mites are likely hiding there.
How do you get rid of Persea mites?
Here are some suggestions to manage, control, and eradicate mites from your avocado plot.
While they may not be applicable to every single cultivar, you should be able to get a general idea of things you can do to protect your plants.
Start from the least invasive strategy and move up the scale. Remember to exercise caution, read labels, and use your own judgment.
There’s no single solution to get rid of these mites. It’s more of a “see what works” trial and error approach. Let’s get started.
Keep your avocados stress free
By keeping your foliage as stress-free as possible, you can greatly reduce the amount of impact persea mites have on your avocados.
This means doing things you should already be doing to ensure your plants get the necessary nutrients and basic requirements to sustain themselves.
Plenty of sunlight, regular watering, fertilizing when necessary, using a high-quality substrate, pruning foliage, correct elevation, harvesting on time, etc. You know the drill.
If you’ve raised avocados before, you know that they require a specific range of conditions to thrive.
By providing basic TLC, you can help them prevent the infestation from persea mites or other insects.
Harvesting on time will help prevent your avocados from spoiling.
The more time you let them hang there, the higher the chance of infestation by mites and other pathogens. Harvest your fruit early rather than letting them sit.
Pick before they ripen. They will ripen even off the tree sitting on your kitchen counter so don’t be worried.
This is usually in September, but the later you wait, the more chance of persea mites. So start a bit earlier and you’ll reduce the possibility of mite infestations on your fruits.
When avocados aren’t undamaged, you’ll see persea mite populations drop as well.
Overwatering your plants does not only kill them, it also brings in pests. When you give excess water to your avocado, the plant won’t uptake all of it with its capillary action.
It just sits there and pools slowly, especially if you have poorly draining soil.
If water doesn’t drain immediately afterward, it can increase the humidity ambiently, which will bring in all sorts of pests- including persea mites.
These mites need high humidity with moderate temperatures to breed. With the excess water, the humidity gets high and this brings in the pests.
Ensure that you only water what’s necessary depending on your local conditions/hardiness zone. Avocados need about watering 2-3 times per week for younger plants, or just once per week for fully grown.
The soil should be allowed to dry out between water sessions. Adjust the water frequency and volume as necessary for hotter or cooler weather.
Note that overwatering can lead to rot or fungus, which loves humidity. This is another reason to never give your avocado trees water that they don’t need. Switch to drip irrigation if possible.
Use natural predators
There are some predators that’ll gladly gobble up persea mites without a second thought, but this depends on the size of your avocado plot.
It’s likely NOT applicable for everyone. The reason is that it’s expensive to get these natural predators that eat the persea mites.
For farmers who are growing for profit, it may be considerable, but for gardeners who just have a small plot, it’s not worth it.
For your information, here are some predators that eat persea mites:
- Black hunter thrips
- Spider mite destroyer
- Dusty Wings
- Rove beetles
- Green lacewings
- Brown lacewings
- Six Spotted thrips
If you decide to buy these, use them as directed.
Do ladybugs eat persea mites?
Yes, but only specific spcies do. Partially, the spider mite destroyer. These are also known as Stethorus picipes. They feed on mites as thier sole diet.
Well, almost. Regular ladybugs aren’t effective for persea mite elimination.
Regular tidying up of your avocado trees will prove to be useful. Not only does it keep it looking neat, but it helps keep the bugs out.
Pests generally nest in overgrown, dense foliage. This lets them hide without disturbance, gives them protection from the elements, and allows them plenty of room to deposit eggs and feed.
If you let your garden go wild, this will bring in persea mites amongst others.
Avocado trees should be pruned on a schedule. You should remove excess foliage, damaged leaves, or spent flowers. Because it’s dense, regular pruning won’t harm it.
Don’t be afraid to cut off extra leaves. It helps the plant focus its energy on growing the fruit rather than looking pretty.
Additionally, pruning improves the overall airflow. This can help evaporate the water that builds up at the base of the plant or on the leaves. Removing this moisture will help prevent pests.
So it’s a double benefit.
Avocados will benefit from high-quality, organic fertilizer. Plant food that’s made for citrus plants is ideal. However, you should NEVER overfeed it.
It’s wrong to think that more plant food equals more fruit. There’s a perfect balance somewhere in the middle.
Excess fertilizer that floats around brings in more unnecessary nutrients in the soil column which the tree won’t utilize for production. If your avocados won’t use the plant food, guess what will? BUGS!
Start off by using a plant food with an NPK of 2-1-1 ratio. Avocados love nitrogen, but so do bugs. Dose as directed. Try half dosages if possible.
Never add more than suggested by the directions. Excess plant food will increase persea mite numbers.
This will then up the damage they do to your avocados in late spring or summer due to the excess nitrogen in the soil.
Spray with a hose
If you water with a hose, use a nozzle and turn it to the “jet” setting. Or just use your thumb to make it pressurized so you can spray the leaves.
If the stream is forceful enough, it can easily blast the presea mites off. Spray the undersides of the greens where feasible. However, doing this excessively can make the leaves start to rot, which needs to be watched.
So exercise caution when doing so. It’s an easy, natural DIY home remedy to quickly remove ethos persea bugs from your avocado without using insecticides or poisons!
Remove the webs
Manually removing the silvery mite nests isn’t easy, but it can wipe out their population.
This is only practical if you have a few avocado plants that are still small. It takes time to manage a whole multiple acreages of them.
- Get a bucket and put in a solution of water with dish soap. The ratio should be 1:10. Stir gently until the suds form.
- Put on your protective gear and head outside.
- Find some infested foliage.
- Place the bucket under the leaves that are infested.
- Use a cotton bud or swab. Dip it into the bucket of soapy water. Wipe the leaves gently to scrub off the nests.
- Dunk the scrub into the solution to clean the pests. Repeat once a week.
This will greatly reduce the mite numbers. It works well for smaller plants that are easy to clean. You may substitute rubbing alcohol instead of dish soap for scrubbing if it doesn’t remove the persea nests.
But keep the soapy water for cleaning. It’d be expensive to use alcohol only!
Check the roots
The roots of your avocado are subject to root rot, which is fostered by excess moisture or humidity in the soil. This is why overwatering should never be done.
When you work with the soil, you should give the roots a quick check. The next time you amend, compost, mulch, or do some other work, you should pay special attention to the root system.
Check for mold, fungus, or rot thoroughly. Pooling water that doesn’t drain is the main culprit of avocado pathogens.
Check the leaves
Get on a schedule to check the leaves every time you’re out there doing some work.
Whether you’re watering, pruning, harvesting, or just fertilizing, do a quick check of the foliage.
Look for signs of infestation such as the following:
- Veiny skeletonized leaves
- Holes in the foliage
- Jagged edges
- Leaves dropping
- Yellowing or browning
- “Burnt” look on the leaf surface
- Sticky residues
- Webbing on the leaf underside
Those ugly brown spots on avocado leaves are likely either persea mites or sixspotted mites.
Prune leaves that are infested. Don’t try to save them.
If you see these signs of damage, do something about it. Do a thorough inspection of your plant’s other leaves, stems, and fruits. Check often!
Inspect for mites, more damage, or other insects every week. The peak season for bugs to infest your avocado is between March through October.
You should be doing regular checking during this time.
There are plants you can put next to your avocado that may help repel insects.
Good plants that you can pair with avocado include the following:
Of course, not all of these will be applicable to your hardiness zone. Do your research and find out what you can grow with your avocado.
Reduce host plants
Persea mites infest more than just avocado. They have other preferable host plants that they eat as well.
If you have the following plants in proximity to your avocado plot, they may also bring in persea mites.
Consider these plants that persea mites infest:
- Thompson and Flame seedless grapes
- Apricots, peaches, plums, and nectarines
- Sow thistle
- Lamb’s quarters
Get rid of weeds
Persea mites also will feed on alternate host plants such as weeds, ornamentals, or other fruit-bearing plants. These mites should be removed regularly with your garden cleaning.
So if you keep your garden clean, you can indirectly get rid of Persea mites on your avocado tree. Fewer rotting weeds means fewer places to hide for pests.
Quarantine new plants, soil, or fertilizer
New plants should always be placed into quarantine for at least 14 days. This will allow you to check for pests or pathogens before you place them inside your garden.
The area should be isolated from other plants so insects can’t disperse onto your garden “safe” plants. Inspect it every other day for signs of pests or viruses. When 14 days have passed, it’s OK to move it into your yard.
It should be free from most issues by then. The same goes for new soils, amendments, compost, mulch, or any other organic materials you want to add to your yard.
Here’s a good video that tells you more info on how to quarantine plants:
Enjoy those heat waves
Persea mite populations will decline when temperatures exceed 100F.
They can’t sustain themselves when temps are at their extremes. Their numbers will generally fade by the end of summertime.
If your avocados aren’t entering extreme temperatures, avoid shading off and let the sunlight burn up those mites.
Drop the humidity
Similar to heat, persea mites also will perish following dry weather. If the humidity drops, you can expect the insect population to drop as well.
When humidity is lower than 50%, populations will go into decline slowly over time. Invest in a humidity gauge and place it next to your avocado. Monitor the humidity when you do things like watering your plants, during rain, or on normal days.
See if you can drop it below 50% by pruning, allowing more sunlight to shine, or watering less. This can help bring the insect population down, especially for the young nymphs.
You can set up box fans to help blow out the moisture provided they are weather-safe/proof. Or switch to a NON-moisture-retaining substrate.
Removing compost or mulch will also help dry up water quickly, which may reduce moisture, which will discourage persea mites from infesting the plant.
Trap the mites
Insects eating your avocado can be caught using passive techniques, such as insect bait, traps, or sticky adhesives that combine both.
These can be set up on the plant itself or nearby.
The point of the traps serves multiple purposes:
- They catch the bugs passively, which will reduce their population
- They let you see how the persea mite population is doing
- They can help catch nymphs before they become egg-bearing pests
If the DIY techniques you’re doing are working, you should noticeably see fire mites being caught over time.
But if you see no progress, then perhaps you need to switch methodologies. Try something else. Note that the seasons will change the number of mites that show up on the traps you use.
There are multiple types of ways you can build DIY mite traps to save your crops:
- Use sticky adhesive around the branches so that mites will need to touch them to cross, which sticks them in place
- Use hanging traps that are lined with insect bait
- Build your own mite traps using 2-liter bottles and insect bait
This works if you have a small plot of crops. But not if I have a field.
Consider hiring a professional
When you just don’t have the time to do it yourself, it’s time to hire a professional to do the work.
Do some research for exterminators near you. Make sure they’re licensed and reputable. Many companies will offer a guarantee.
So they’ll keep trying to rid the bugs until they do without charging you. Read online reviews. Call some companies. Get some quotes.
Sometimes, it’s worth it if you don’t have time or expertise.
Consider the opportunity cost. DIY isn’t for everyone.
If you decide to use store-bought commercial sprays, only use one active application at a time. Mixing different compounds is not good.
It also can make your pesticides useless if the persea mites resist them. Use as directed. Some sprays may also adversely harm natural predators of these mites, so you may want to use something that’s not broad spectrum.
Also, use sprays that are safe for fruits.
Use organic or natural insecticides if possible. Use as directed. Read the warning labels before use.
Never use excessive volumes of poisons. Pesticide resistance is a PITA. So save yourself the headache of it. Not worth it.
The problem is that most sprays that work are reserved for crop growers. They’re industrial strength poisons that target specific mites. You won’t find this on the shelf at your local home improvement store.
But if you shop around, you may run into sprays that claim to work on mites. If so, read the label and check out the ingredients.
If you believe it’s worth trying, proceed with caution because avocado isn’t just some plant that you won’t be eating. The spray needs to be safe for fruits or veggies.
Does neem oil kill persea mites?
No, it doesn’t. Neem oil doesn’t work on insects with hard shells. Persea mites need some powerful compounds to work. So don’t count on it.
What are some good Persea mite sprays?
There are no “good” sprays for peresea mite infesations that are sold the public.
These are reserved for farmers or crop growers with many acres of land.
For those with just one or two plants, you should stick with regular forceful streams of water from your hose. Blast the undersides of your avocado leaves to remove them without using harmful compounds. Do this every time you water.
Sadly, you don’t have ready to use kinds of sprays.
You may find these references/sources useful:
- Persea Mite – Applied Biological Control Research
- Avocado Persea Mite Pest Management – CA Avocado Growers
- Persea Mite – Tropical Research and Education Center
- Unleashing ‘Good Bugs’ to Battle Persea Mites – Los Angeles Times
- Gardening advice: Look for mites damaging avocado trees – San Luis Obispo
Protect your avocado from mites
Now that you know the basics of how to get rid of persea mites on your avocado trees, you can now effectively go forth with confidence!
The majority of mite infestations on your fruit can be managed with basic natural remedies using resources you have lying around the house.
So get going if you wanna save your crops!
It’ll challenge your determination and patience, but stick with it. See what DIY methods work for you and what don’t.
Use natural solutions to kill the mites. Prune your leaves to remove them. And then set up sticky tape to gauge how you’re doing.
Do you have questions about specific mite problems on your avocado? Post a comment using the form below and let me know.
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.