Common Name: Tomato russet mite
Scientific name: Aculops lycopersici (Massee)
Description: Microscopic, about 1/25-inch long, cigar shaped bodies and two pairs of legs. Also in this group are Bermudagrass mites, Eriophyes cynodoniensis (Say), which infest Bermudagrass in low humidity areas of Texas causing thickening of the shoots and shortening of internodes. Injured grass appears pale and stunted. The citrus rust mite, Phyllocoptruta oleivora (Ashmead) is an occasional pest of Texas citrus that causes bronzing of leaves and green twigs.
Life cycle: Development from egg to adult can occur in 6 to 7 days.
Habitat and food source(s): In addition to tomatoes, the tomato russet mite also infests eggplant, pepper, potato, petunia, groundcherry, datura, and other solenaceous plant species.
Pest status: Damage stems, leaves and fruit of tomatoes and related plants, but medically harmless. Mites insert their mouthparts into plants and sucking out the plant juices. Infested plants are often reddish in color due to the presence of large numbers of mites on the stems and petioles. Mites injure plants and cause bronzing or “russeting” of the surface of stems, leaves and fruits. Plant injury starts at the base of the plant and spreads from the stems to the leaves and fruit. On tomatoes, injured leaves turn brown and paper-like and may fall off infested plants. Injured fruit turns bronze and can crack longitudinally.
For additional information, contact your local Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent or search for other state Extension offices.
Literature: Hamman & McIlveen 1983. Reviewed Burke 3/1996.