Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Not all mites are bad mites.

We maintain a sugarbeet root aphid, Pemphagus betae, colony in my lab. This insect is a pretty important pest of sugarbeets in my area and subterranean aphids are just kind of cool to study. Today, while going through our aphid colony, we found a predatory mite in the act (above). Fortunately for us, we have way more aphids than mites. However, wouldn't it be nice to have these established in the field and feeding on the root aphids attacking our crops? Combined with resistant varieties, these mites could be really beneficial. Maybe they already are beneficial and just have not been recognized as such. I have a student working on various aspects of beneficial insects in our soil. So, maybe in a couple years this mite might be recognized as an untapped resource. However, in the mean time, I just hope it doesn't crash my aphid colony!