A rapid assessment by the Food & Environment Research Agency of the pink tea mite concluded that its impact could potentially be high in the absence of control measures, but decided that statutory action would not be appropriate.
The pest was found in September at a nursery in West Sussex and at a Norfolk young plant and plug supplier. It was causing noticeable damage to Camellia japonica and C. (approx equal to) williamsii.
Investigations found that the pest had been present for some time and had spread. The mites cause rust-like discolouration on leaves that affects growth and makes the plants unmarketable.
Generic pest control measures have proved effective and a single application of abamectin (Dynamec) has solved the problem for growers. The 0.2mm-long mites are almost invisible to the naked eye.