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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Red Velvet Mites

Families: Trombidiidae and Erythraeidae

Scientific Names
Balaustium spp. (Erythraeidae) and Allothrombium spp. (Trombidiidae)


  • Common in Ontario
  • Ranging from 0.3 mm to 2 mm in length and readily visible to the naked eye
  • Fast moving
  • Typically seen on leaves, fruit and the trunk of the vine, may be seen foraging under vines


  • Large
  • Bright coloured (typically red, but also reddish brown or orange)
  • Tick-like shape and a dense velvet like covering


  • Bright red mites but have fewer hairs
  • Bodies covered by short hairs that give them a velvety appearance

Often Confused With
European red mite adult females – European red mite females are 0.4 mm, red velvet mites are much larger and lack the rows of raised spines on their backs.

Interaction With Host
Balaustium spp. are good predators and will feed on anything they can outrun and overpower.

Period of Activity
Nymphs emerge in early May and the mites remain in vineyard throughout the season.

Insects attacked
Common prey items include the eggs and the early instars of caterpillars, beetles, flies, leafhoppers, scale insects and other mites. Red velvet mites may eat up to 40 mites per day.  Pollen is also consumed.

Monitoring and Management
Red velvet mites will be found in the vineyard when scouting for mites and leafhoppers.

Balaustium spp.
Click to enlarge.