Abacarus hystrix Nalepa Cereal rust mite

Infestations of this widely distributed mite occur on various cereals and grasses but are most often present on ungrazed or uncut Italian rye-grass and perennial rye-grass, especially the latter. The pest is a well-known vector of rye-grass mosaic virus. In North America, it is also implicated in the spread of Agropyron mosaic virus. When numerous, the mites cause direct damage and infested leaves become discoloured. The combined effect of mite feeding and virus infection results in undersized plants, which lack vigour and give reduced yields.

BIOLOGY

Adult females overwinter on tender tissue at the tips of host plants and become active in the spring. They then invade the upper surface of the young leaves, and eventually deposit eggs within the longitudinal grooves between the veins. Breeding continues throughout the summer months and populations reach peak numbers in late August or early September. Mites feeding on virus-infected plants pick up the virus within a couple of hours; they are then capable of transmitting the disease to healthy plants.

DESCRIPTION

Adult 0.18-0.20mm long, whitish, elongate and slender-bodied; hysterosoma subdivided into numerous tergites and sternites; prodorsal shield setae directed backwards.

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