The effects of plant age and infestation level of twospotted spider mite, Tetranychus urticae Koch (Acari: Tetranychidae), on visible plant damage, and the effect of plant age on spider mite population growth on impatiens, Impatiens wallerana Hook.f. (Ericales: Balsaminaceae), were determined by inoculating impatiens plants of three different ages with two densities of spider mites. Each plant was inoculated with either one adult female mite per three leaves or six leaves based on the average number of leaves on plants of each of the three age classes. Subsequently, leaf damage was correlated with mite-days (cumulative spider mite density) per leaf. The results showed that older aged plants exhibited greater damage than younger plants. Regression models of damage thresholds for each plant age suggest that monitoring for spider mites must be done periodically throughout the entire plant production cycle, but that more attention should be given toward the end of the cycle. Measurements of visible leaf damage were correlated with plant marketability. Specifically, the level of damage (proportion of damaged leaves per plant) at which plant marketability changes from a “premium” to a “discounted” category was 0.04–0.06. Thus, regression equations of the damage threshold could be used to estimate a cumulative spider mite density or mite-days equivalent to the economic threshold. Based on these equations, 5% leaf damage corresponds to 2.1, 1.51, and 1.25 mite-days for youngest, intermediate, and oldest plants, respectively. Because the damage threshold on impatiens was shown to be very low, the action threshold for biological control is essentially zero, and predators would need to be released as soon as damage is observed.
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