As a child, you may have seen little specks of red moving around on your windowsill and for fun, squished them to see a trail of red as a result of squeezing them. These little red specks are not just moving dust particles, but they are actually clover mites.
Clover mites gained their name because of the host that they prefer which are clover leaves and grass. They actually do not damage buildings or furnishings inside the home. Clover mites also do not harm people or animals. They are considered pests because they can become a nuisance inside the home when they invade by the thousands, primarily in the spring and then again in the fall seasons. Although they are native to North America, clover mites can be found worldwide.
Biology and Habits
Clover mites follow the full life cycle of egg, larva, protonymph, deutonymph and adult. An entire developmental stage will take about one month which means that several generations can be completed during the different seasons. Clover mites reproduce parthenogenetically. This means that only females are known to exist and the male species are unknown. This also means that females are able to reproduce without a mate. Clover mites will lay their eggs typically during the summer and fall season. They lay their eggs in the foundation walls or cracks, under the bark of trees, or basically any tight crack or crevice of the exterior of the home. Eggs laid in the spring will remain dormant and hatch the following fall and likewise, eggs that are laid in the fall will hatch the following spring.
Clover mites are plant feeders only and so they are commonly found in areas that have heavily fertilized lawns or in areas with abundant vegetation. Although they cannot create damage to a building and do not bite people and animals, clover mites in the thousands can potentially damage crops. Clover mites do not create any significant damage but can be a nuisance in the early summer and towards the end of the fall season when they invade the inside and the outside of homes by the thousands because of climate changes and when vegetation starts to die.
When clover mites are crushed, they will leave a red stain or mark. It seems like a blood stain and so many people will begin to worry that they are blood thirsty parasites, however, the red color merely comes from the pigments of the clover mites. When they invade the homes, they are commonly found on windowsills, door frames – basically entryways from the outside of the house. They are so miniscule that they are able to crawl through crack and crevices and most insects can not.
Clover mites are easily distinguished from other mites by their color and size. Red in color and about 1mm in size, clover mites are a bit larger and brighter in color than other species of mites. They are actually not considered insects but arachnids, in the same family as spiders and ticks. Their noticeably long front two legs differentiate them from their arachnid cousins.