Watch for Two-Spotted Spider Mite in Soybean

Bill Cissel, Extension Agent – Integrated Pest Management;

I am starting to find Two-spotted spider mites (TSM) in soybeans. Populations are still low and hopefully, by the time this article goes to print, we will have received some rain that can encourage TSM populations to crash. Hot, dry weather favors TSM and drought can trigger outbreaks. TSM populations are held in balance by natural enemies and the weather. Under high temperatures, the amount of time required for TSM to complete its lifecycle is shortened, allowing more generations to be completed in a shorter period of time. Female TSM can produce 300 offspring in her lifetime (~30 days) and most of the individuals in the population are female. Dry conditions also diminish the activity of fungal diseases that often play a key role in keeping outbreaks from occurring. So if it rains, does it mean we don’t need to worry about TSM? Precipitation can not only favor spore formation and mite infection but also reduces plant stress. This however isn’t always a silver bullet and TSM populations can continue to increase even after rain events, especially if the weather returns to being hot and dry. Cool nights and humid conditions promote the fungal disease that infects TSM.

Scout for TSM by examining the underside of 5 leaflets in 10 locations for mites, noting the presence of mite eggs and the amount of leaf damage. The threshold for TSM during bloom to podfill is 20-30 mites per leaflet and 10% of plants with 1/3 or more leaf area damaged.

Concentrate scouting efforts on field edges for initial detection, especially edges bordered by grass and road ditches (it’s not unusual to also find hot spots in the interior portions of the field). TSM typically develop on grasses and other plants on field borders before ballooning into fields. Once TSM are detected, scout the interior portions of the field to determine if they have spread throughout the entire field. If only concentrated on field edges, spot treating may be an option. If spot treating on field edges, extend the treated area about 100 ft further into the field from the damaged area.

Here is a link to our Soybean Insecticide Recommendations for chemical control options:

Also note that in 2016, two miticides were registered for use on soybeans; Zeal SC, (Valent U.S.A Corporation) and Agri-Mek SC, (Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC). These are the only labeled formulations of these products. Please consult the label for rates, additional restrictions, and adjuvant requirements.

Zeal SC Supplemental Label for use on soybean:

Agri-Mek SC Label: