Southern Red Mite – Oligonychus ilicis

Southern Red Mite – Oligonychusilicis

Latin Name: Southern Red Mite

Common Name: Oligonychusilicis



The brownish to reddish egg is low and has a central stipe or hair (seta).


The larva is virtually white with a few crimson spots.


It has the same hue as an adult male.


The abdomen is dark red-brown or red-purple, while the cephalothorax is pinkish or red. There is also a light midstripe. The male is similar to the female but smaller (0.3 mm) and generally black, missing the pink or red tint.

Host plant:     

Azaleas (Rhododendron spp.) and camellias are common hosts (Camellia japonica). Other host plants that have been documented include American sycamore, Platanus occidentalis, boxwood, and Buxus sp.


Spruce spider mites are distributed across North America. Southern red mites are present in the eastern United States and California. Southern red mites favor azaleas, hollies, and camellias, but they have been found in various plants and herbs. Spruce spider mites feed on junipers, spruce, arborvitae, and other coniferous evergreens.

Damages caused by Southern Red Mite:

In early spring and late fall, look for stippling and different mite stages on broadleaf evergreens’ bottom and upper leaf surfaces. Tap leaves on white paper to dislodge and count mites, helpful insects, and predatory mites. Southern red mites have larger legs and travel faster than northern red mites. From November until early April, look for red overwintering eggs on leaves.

Life history and habits:

The mature female is about 1/50 inch long and has a rotund-elliptical body. The mature male is around 300 inches long, considerably less rotund, and narrower in the back. Both sexes are reddish brown, much darker than most red spider mites on woody ornamentals. This species’ body is more transparent at the front. Many generations occur each year, although population densities are highest during the colder months of spring and fall when there is significant humidity for extended periods. Overwintering as red eggs on the undersides of leaves, the species. When infestations are not managed, darker summer eggs can be numerous on favored hosts. While some mites may be active throughout the summer, most of the population is dormant.