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Pear Rust Mite Epitrimerus pyri are very small. Pear rust mite is often not detected until after damage had occurred. The russetting on the fruit becomes visible around late May or June, when pears have increased in size and turned down. On occasion, late-season populations of pear rust mites may be present but feeding only on tender foliage
Pear Rust Mite
Hosts Pear rust mite is found only on cultivated pear, several Pyrus species, Cydonia sp. and Pyronia.
Life Stages : Egg: See description of apple rust mite. Immatures: See description of apple rust mite. Adults: Adults are about 150 microns long and are difficult to see without magnification. A 10- to 20-power lens is recommended. They are broad at the front, tapered at the rear and are yellowish brown. They have only two pairs of legs which are at the front end of the body.
Life Cycle :Female mites overwinter beneath bud scales and bark predominantly on 1- to 2-year-old wood. As buds open in spring, mites emerge, move to developing clusters, and feed within buds. As clusters open and leaves expand, some pear rust mites move to the leaf tissue and feed until leaves mature and harden, while large numbers remain on the fruit. As leaves mature, pear rust mites move either to young succulent leaf tissue or to fruit.
Eggs are produced shortly after adults become active in spring. Eggs are spherical and nearly clear when first laid. Immature mites grow rapidly through two instars.
Several generations occur each growing season; each takes only 10 to 14 days under ideal conditions. During the growing season, adults are pale white to cream colored. By late summer, only females are present, and they seek overwintering sites under scales of newly developed buds or in protected areas on 1- and 2-year-old twigs, unless tender new foliage is present, in which case they may remain active into November.
Damage : As pear rust mite starts feeding within the developing fruit clusters, it can damage fruit very early in the season. The feeding causes light russeting that can cover the entire surface of the fruit. Often, however, only the calyx end of the fruit is russeted. The russet is most obvious on clear-skinned pears such as Bartlett, Anjou and Comice. Naturally russeted cultivars, such as Bosc, and red-skinned varieties seem more tolerant of rust mite damage.
The pear rust mite also feeds on young leaves which, if heavily attacked, turn bronze in color. Heavy feeding can cause defoliation and reduced shoot growth. Although pear rust mite may persist on both fruit and foliage throughout the season, it causes the most severe damage in the early spring. For that reason, direct controls are usually applied prebloom
Pear rust mite feeds on the surface of fruit and foliage, causing a bronzing of the tissue. Injury to leaves may stunt the growth of young trees, but on older trees it is of minor importance compared to fruit damage. Soon after petal fall, damaging populations may develop on fruit around the calyx or stem end, giving a localized russetting to those areas. Feeding and russetting may spread over the entire fruit if mites are unchecked. Late season feeding tends to be scattered more uniformly over the fruit surface, with the intensity of russetting determined by the number of mites and the length of their feeding period. Rust mites are not an economic pest of naturally russetted varieties and in these orchards are even considered beneficial because they serve as a predator food source.
Control:Pear rust mite may increase in orchards where mating disruption is used to control codling moth because broad-spectrum insecticides are not being used. Dormant or delayed dormant treatments will help suppress populations of this pest but control of pear rust mites is best obtained during the postharvest period. In-season treatments are necessary when monitoring indicates a need.
Pear Rust Mite Damage
Rust mites do not come under complete biological control in unsprayed orchards, though they are heavily suppressed in most years. Rust mites become much more of a problem in sprayed orchards where predaceous mites are destroyed by pyrethroids and other materials, especially if high populations of rust mite are allowed to overwinter.
Pear rust mite is attacked by several indigenous predators including predaceous mites, green and brown lacewings, coccinellids and larvae of the cecidomyiid fly Arthrocnodax. However, in the Pacific Northwest, pear rust mite causes severe fruit damage each year where it is left uncontrolled. This suggests that there are insufficient natural controls to make biological control a viable alternative to chemical suppression.
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