Wheat Curl Mite

Very tiny mites that degrade the quality and storage time for garlic and onions, while also resulting in poor health of the growing plant.

Physical Description

From UC IPM: Wheat curl mites are microscopic white, worm-like organisms about 0.01 inch (0.25 mm) long. The legs are very small and located near the head. These mites feed on liliaceous bulbs, cereal grains, and wild grasses. These mites are smaller and more elongate than the bulb mite, which is globular in shape.

Species & Taxonomy

  • Kingdom:
  • Phylum:
  • Class:
  • Order:
  • Family:
  • Genus Species: Eriophyes tulipae



Plants Affected

  • onions
  • garlic
  • wheat
  • grasses

Plants Unaffected


Geographical Range


Signs & Symptoms

Whole Plant


  • streaking and twisting of garlic leaves




  • peeled garlic cloves appear yellowish, or like they have a powdery coating
  • garlic cloves seem to have dried out and sunken

How to Positively Identify

  • view garlic cloves with 20x hand lens or microscope to see mites


Prevention & Control

Cultural Controls:


Temperature & Humidity:

Mulching & Cultivation Practices:

  • From UC IPM: 
    • Fields rotated into onions or garlic from corn or sudangrass may have higher levels of wheat curl mites.
    • Flood irrigation or heavy winter rains may reduce field populations.
    • Avoid planting successive onion or garlic crops
    • Hot water treatment of seed garlic reduces seed infestation
    • light to moderate infestations can also be controlled during the normal drying process before storage
  • From GardeningKnowHow.com:
    • Treat bulbs prior to planting with hot water to reduce the population of mites. Soak the bulbs at 130 degrees F. (54 C.) for 10-20 minutes or at 140 degrees F. (60 C.) for 10-15 minutes.
    • You can also try soaking affected garlic cloves for 24 hours in 2% soap (not detergent) and 2% mineral oil solution.
    • Some sites suggest soaking cloves in alcohol for a few minutes prior to planting to kill any adult mites. 

Natural Enemies & Biological Controls






Sprays & Dusts


  • http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/r584400211.html
  • https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/plant-problems/pests/insects/wheat-curl-mite-control.htm

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