Southern red mite

Have you seen southern red mite?

If you think that you may have seen southern red mite, contact Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 for advice.

Early detection and reporting of symptoms are the key elements in controlling the pest.

Call us on 13 25 23

General information

The tiny southern red mite, Oligonychus ilicis, is a serious pest of ornamentals overseas. It causes a loss of plant vigour, distortion and when present in high numbers can lead to plant death.


Where it occurs

The pest exists in Brazil, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Paraguay, the Netherlands and the United States. It was also detected in Sydney in the late 1990s but was eradicated.

What it looks like

The southern red mite can barely be seen with the naked eye. The 0.38mm long female adult resembles a tiny spider and is reddish or pinkish (see Figure 1). It can be distinguished by colour from the common two spotted mite, which is greenish yellow with a large dark spot on each side of the body. Fine webs, similar to that of a spiders' may indicate presence of the mites.


Southern red mite has a wide host range which includes 34 plant families among 15 families, however it prefers azalea (Rhododendorn), camellia and holly. It has also been found overseas on boxwood, Eucalyptus, oak, walnut, pecan, camphor laurel, sily oak, rice, cotoneaster, quince, loquat, strawberry, pear and coffee.


Southern red mite feeds on lower leaf surfaces, causing bronzing and stippling (pale dotted effect) of the leaves. Your leaves may grow in a distorted fashion. The leaves later turn grey or brown and fall prematurely.


Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Wildlife (2006). New plant pests and diseases recorded in Australia. Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Wildlife.

H. A. Denmark, W. C. W., and T. R. Fasulo (2015). Southern Red Mite, Oligonychus ilicis (McGregor) (Arachnida: Acari: Tetranychidae). U. o. Florida. Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) Extensions.