Posted by Robert Cox, CSU Extension - Arapahoe County
So when we have long-lasting snow cover in the winter, we get vole damage and snow molds in our lawns, especially on north and east exposures. During winters with very little snow cover, we get mite damage to lawns, especially on south and west exposures.
Winter 2015-2016 gave us some of each; see Dr. Tony Koski’s post about vole injury and snow molds March 14, 2016.
Following Jimmy Buffet/Alan Jackson 5 o' clock logic, one could argue that some turf mite injury to lawns - somewhere along the Front Range - could occur just about every winter. Here in Arapahoe County, it seems that most winter turf mite injury seems to be caused by Banks grass mites rather than clover mites. This could be in part due to our county politicians’ 2012 ban on clover mites.
Banks grass mites are a little bit like us – they want to reproduce, hang out with the kids, contribute to their 401k, and spend a few winter vacation days in a warm dry spot. While they can’t get $79 Southwest airfares to San Diego or Phoenix in March, they can choose to thrive and proliferate in the warmest and driest portions of our lawns – on Southwest exposures, especially on slopes. If these exposures are near the house, rocked landscaping or evergreens, it really adds to the ambiance.
Preventing or minimizing mite injury involves sprinkling prone turfgrass during warm, dry snowless periods – mites dislike water. Or - miticide application to prone turf areas. More details at http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/insects/clover-and-other-mites-of-turfgrass-5-505/
To renovate or re-sod large dead areas, see more detail at http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/renovating-the-home-lawn-7-241/
Here are a few photos of mite injury to turfgrass - often matted and killed. All are located on South or West exposures. Can you name the other factors in each photo that contributed to mite injury?