With the winter season upon us, it’s prime time for one particularly unwelcome and annoying pest - the clover mite.
According to Jason Wheeler, owner of Ace Pest Control, February and March are especially bad months when it comes to clover mites in Amarillo, Texas. However, when people see them, they often mistake them for other insects such as bedbugs, ticks or chiggers. Thankfully, clover mites aren’t destructive and can be simply considered a nuisance pest.
“It’s really nice to be able to tell someone who thinks she has bed bugs ‘no, you have clover mites and we can easily take care of them,’” he said. “That’s a really great conversation to have.”
What is a clover mite?
Since clover mites are often misidentified, let’s explain a little bit more about them. Clover mites are arachnids. They’re closely related to ticks and spiders and they measure about one millimeter long. They quickly go from egg to nymph to adult and they have a relatively short life cycle, only living a couple of weeks to a couple of months. One fun fact about clover mites is they’re all females, which means fertilization doesn’t need to occur in order for them to lay eggs. Typically, clover mites will lay about 70 eggs each so it’s no wonder that their population can blow up pretty fast.
Because clover mites are red in color, many people think they feed on blood, but that’s not actually the case. Instead, their diet consists of grass, clover, flowers and plant life and they’re often found in over-fertilized and heavily watered lawns.
“What I’ve seen is when you have newer construction or if someone has new sod brought in, normally the clover mite population explodes from that within a couple of years,” Wheeler said.
How do clover mite infestations affect homes?
Unlike some pests, clover mites aren’t particularly destructive or dangerous to humans, although they can stain surfaces red if they are smashed during cleanup. However, Wheeler has seen a few instances where these nuisance pests have gotten out of control.
“The worst case I’ve seen was at a home where the patio furniture was covered and you couldn’t even see the covers - it was solid red, the walls were solid red, around the windows and inside the house there were thousands of clover mites,” he said. “That was a fully bloomed population.”
Why did that happen? Because in cooler temperatures, clover mites are looking for a source of shelter, especially at night, and the warmth of a home that’s been heated by the sun all day can be especially attractive to them. And thanks to their small size, it’s pretty easy for clover mites to enter a home through cracks in brick or grout. However, because there’s no food source inside a home, they start dying off pretty quickly.
“But that doesn’t make it any less annoying when you’ve got thousands of them coming in every day,” Wheeler notes. “It’s our job to stop the flow.”
Treating for clover mites
Total control of the outdoor clover mite population is challenging, Wheeler said, because they lay eggs in hard-to-access places like sidewalk cracks and behind bark in firewood piles. If your neighbor has them, you’ll probably end up with them too, or vice versa.
The good news is that should clover mites enter your home, eliminating them is “absolutely attainable,” Wheeler said.
When a customer calls in and suspects a clover mite infestation, the first thing the technician will do upon arrival is make a proper identification. Then, the technician will perform a comprehensive exterior treatment and recommend mitigation measures to eliminate nesting areas close to the home. And just like that, with one or two applications, the clover mite problem can be gone and order can be restored to the home.
“They’re not dangerous, they don’t spread disease and they’re not a threat to us outside of being an incredible nuisance,” Wheeler said. “But that’s enough for us to decide we want to get rid of them.”
Treatment for clover mites are covered under Ace’s signature pest control package. To find out more about how our expert technicians can help protect your home, contact us by clicking here.