Fight the Mite!

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Pecan leaf scorch mites have long been a nemesis for Georgia pecan farmers.

Tim Flanders explains, "When you first see the damage, it will be a scorched appearance or a brownish appearance along this mid-rib, and as it progresses it actually dies out in a pattern around this mid-rib."

Scientists say the rising costs of insecticides and an interest in protecting the environment has led them to an alternative weapon against scorch mites. They say they're fighting the pesky insect with another insect.

In pecan orchards, scientists say they're using a combative mite that acts as a predator, attacking the scorch mites and leaving the trees alone.

Tim Flanders, Grady County Extension Coordinator, says, "Any time you can stock an orchard with a predatory insect, you're putting less insecticides into the environment, which that's always a good thing."

Researchers at the Coastal Plain Research Station now say they're trying to find out if the combative mites will survive year to year, meaning a grower would not need to restock his orchard, making it a money saving venture.

Researchers say pecan growers can buy the combative mites now. They add that the cost per acre is cheaper than insecticide.