Predatory arachnids (Gamasida), which are among the most important beneficial organisms in viticulture. These insects, which belong to the order of mites, are found on numerous plants. They are characterised by mouth parts with scissors-like grippers as well as by distinct tags on the upper and lower sides of the body. The most important representative is the species Typhlodromus pyri, which is about 0.3 to 0.5 millimetres large. It has a pear-shaped body with four pairs of legs and a milky white to brownish colour. The females hibernate in small pieces of bark on the stem, and in spring the eggs are laid on the underside of the leaves. The main food for the hatched sex animals are the red spider mite and the common spider mite, which are harmful to viticulture, but they also eat the ruffled mite and the smallpox mite as well as vine thrips. After eating red spider mites they change their colour to reddish (picture right).
The species Typhlodromus pyri is cultivated in the laboratory and is specifically released in the vineyard as part of biological plant protection to control these pests as an environmentally friendly alternative to insecticides. The predatory mites spend the whole year on the vine and are therefore exposed to all adverse influences, especially the use of chemical agents (spraying). Integrated Pest Management takes this into account by using as little or no pesticides as possible. See also under vine enemies, as well as the general principles of environmentally friendly cultivation under organic viticulture.
Picture right: © W. Neudorff GmbH KG