Tarsonemus myceliophagus Hussey Mushroom mite

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This species is an important pest of mushrooms, the relatively sluggish, barrel-shaped mites feeding on mushroom hyphae. Mite damage appears to encourage secondary breakdown of tissue, and this results in a reddish-brown discoloration around the base of the stipes; if the basal hyphae are severed, the developing stipes may also become loosened. The mites are also vectors of 'die back' virus. Development of the mite from egg to adult is favoured by spawning temperatures, requiring only 8 days at 24°C but taking about 12 days during the cooler cropping period. The mites are often particularly numerous if infestations develop during or soon after spawning. The adult mites are 0.2 mm long, pale brown, translucent and shiny; the hindlegs of males are robust, terminating in a strong claw, but lack a distinctive flange (cf. cyclamen mite, Phytonemus pallidus, p. 260). Mushroom mites are often preyed upon by long-legged mushroom mites, Linopodes spp. (family Penthaleidae), especially L. motatorius (L.). These very active predators (once thought to be damaging to mushrooms) are whitish in appearance, with very long, antenna-like front legs.

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