The eriophyid mite, Phyllocoptes fructiphilus, can vector a virus of roses, known as rose rosette. Although rose rosette is nothing new, there have been more reports of it recently in east Texas. Keep an eye open for symptoms.
Eriophydae is a family of a few thousand different species of mites. They are smaller than the twospotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae) and their damage often results in the formation of galls; hence the common name gall mites. They can be seen with the use of a good hand lens, if you know where to look. Although many eriophyid mites are considered pests, some can be considered beneficials, as they attack unwanted weeds. Aceria malherbae is an example of the first successfully established biological control agent for control of a crop weed in the US, the much despised bindweed.
The eriophyid mite, Phyllocoptes fructiphilus Keifer, has become quite popular, due to its vectoring of Rose Rosette Disease (RRD); a rose virus that causes stem elongation, red coloration of new growth in some cases, extra thorniness, clustering of small branches (witches’ broom), and can result in plant death. Once infected, the virus occupies even the roots, so the entire plant must be removed in order to prevent further contamination.
For detailed information on symptoms and control strategies, see additional resources below.
Alabama Cooperative Extension | Rose Rosette Disease: Jim Jacobi, Extension Plant Pathologist