Target Pest: Two-spotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae), General mite predator
Description: “Californicus" are tiny (0.5mm long), pear-shaped and tan in color. Males are much smaller and darker in color (dark brown) than females. There are usually slightly more females in Californicus populations.
Use in Biological Control: Californicus is a general predatory mite that primarily attacks spider mites, but will also feed on many other leaf inhabiting mites (even some microscopic species), other small insects and pollen. While Californicus is mainly used in greenhouse crops, it may also be used in the field, particularly in fruit crops (strawberries, pome, and stone fruit). Other suitable crops include vegetables (capsicum, tomatoes, eggplant and cucumber), ornamentals (gerberas, chrysanthemums and roses) and herbs.
Californicus is tolerant of various temperatures and low humidity, but works best under warm to hot conditions. It tolerates higher temperatures and lower humidity than Persimilis. When pests are low, Californicus will feed on pollen which keeps predatory populations around your crop. While some predators will actively seek out new prey in the absence of food, most will stay on the crop and wait for the arrival of new pests.
Life Cycle: Females will lay about 60 eggs over a lifetime, at the rate of about 2-3 per day. The eggs are oval and pearly white in color, and laid on the underside of leaves where spider mite populations are high. The eggs hatch after 1-2 days, where they will pass through a 6 legged larval and two different 8 legged nymphal stages before adulthood. Depending on temperature, the cycle from egg to adult is roughly 4-10 days, and then another 20 days as an adult.
For Best Results: Californicus works best when used preventatively, or when spider mites are first noticed on the crop. Best results are seen when Californicus is allowed to build up before the spider mite populations are able to establish themselves. Persimilis may be used in conjunction for fast knockdown of high mite populations.
The predators should be distributed evenly throughout the crop on the foliage, with higher concentrations at the end of row and in warmer areas that are prone to spider mites. They should be released as soon as possible after receipt.