northwest fuchsia society


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Aculops fuchsiae: FUCHSIA GALL MITE
-an eriophyid mite/spider family

Fuchsia gall mite (Keifer) from Brazil was first described in 1972. In 1981 fuchsia mites appeared  in California where they spread rapidly and decimated the fuchsia industry. By 2003, growers in Brittany, France, had infestations.
In the Pacific Northwest, fuchsia gall mite has infested plants intermittently over the past ten years. Then in  2004 & 2005, serious infestations were found in gardens from Tacoma to Portland, presumably because of warm winters. By the summer of 2006, no damage was found on any winter hardy fuchsias in the gardens.
The Northwest Fuchsia Society (NWFS), primarily in Western Washington & Oregon, USA, compiled and distributed information on fuchsia gall mite and how to minimize the problem-- before it gets out of hand. Using California’s 20+ years of experience and with input from Northwest growers, we will be able to deal effectively if a gall mite problem occurs again in our yards and greenhouses. Our information will be updated as we learn more.



Aculops fuchsiae, an eriophyid mite, cannot be seen with the naked eye, and these mites multiply rapidly.  They affect
only fuchsias and are not to be confused with ‘spider mite’. The mites live and reproduce within the folds of galled tissue
and among plant hairs.  Without a 40+x microscope, their presence can be identified only by the grotesque damage
that they do:

>Plant parts (leaves, flowers, stems) are fused together, twisted,  & swollen, forming galls. .
>Infected areas may look hairy with reddish  and whitish areas.
Early detection- leaves thicken, redden, become hairy, & chunky galls and lumps appear. Gardeners suspecting fuchsia gall mite should cut off an affected part of the plant, place it in a Zip Lock bag, and seek assistance from a local fuchsia group. Do not assume that because some leaves are curled or unhealthy (aphids and other insects can cause this!) that the plant has gall mite.

Photos- Larry Mason

The life-cycle of Aculops fuchsiae is 2-4 weeks with four stages: egg, larva, nymph, adult. The females lay ~50 eggs at one time, and in 1-2 weeks, they hatch. (If half of those 50 eggs are female, in no time at all, there are hundreds!) The wee mites are expert at hiding in plant structures to avoid danger, and controlling them is difficult but not impossible.   
 Dispersal of fuchsia gall mites is done by the wind, insects, birds and especially by gardeners handling an infected plant and moving on to another-- with the mites hitchhiking on hands, clothes, hair…
BIOLOGICAL CONTROLS: Aculops fuchsiae has predators, some believed to have been helpful in California, but these predators cannot get to all of these elusive, wee fuchsia mites. Control potential here is limited.
CLIMATIC CONTROLS: With 7 nights of temperatures in the teens and low 20's in the winter of 2006, the climatic control potential in Western Washington and Oregon has become better known. Presumably, the NWFS has found a minimum range of temperature under which gall mites cannot survive. We now know that infestations in gardens with fuchsias that are outdoors all winter is a ‘warm winter’ problem.
CONTROL BY FUCHSIA GROWERS: How fuchsia growers raise their fuchsias has an enormous effect on spreading fuchsia mite. Advice from the American Fuchsia Society (AFS) based in San Francisco, suggests 3 approaches:
1. Destroy fuchsia mite infected plants. New starts are inexpensive. They should be purchased from fuchsia specialists who are aware of the problem and have a program to avoid it. Then…
2. Raise Gall Mite Resistant and Immune fuchsias. Like with most pests, mites are attracted to some fuchsias, but not to all. Brazilian fuchsias, where the mite originated, have developed resistance. Mites may be present, but damage is minor. Several species are resistant and pass that trait on to their offspring. Some fuchsias are even immune. Hybridizers in California are raising new cultivars specifically for their gall mite resistance. They are appearing in PNW fuchsia nurseries.
3. If mite damage appears: Prune out the damage to the plant parts.   
Use chemical controls- choices listed below.
Prevention- start chemical controls in dormancy just BEFORE the new leaves
p; appear. Saturate the plant & soil. To be successful, you need to be persistent,

and follow directions carefully.
For the dormant period (fall & winter) prune plants severely (See sketchà).
Deeply planted hardies may be pruned even harder. Remove the leaves, young
stems & most leaf nodes, galls, & loose bark where the mites reproduce, feed and
over-winter. Clean up underneath the plants. Give fuchsia mites as little area as
possible to live on and hide in.
During the plant’s growth periods (spring & summer), cut out the mite infected area- cut two nodes  below it.
Develop a spraying program to delay more mites hatching (see below) & to keep plants healthy.

>In general, establish a program to keep plants healthy; stick to it so that you don’t spread  mites to neighbors and
reinfect your own plants.
>Do not work on an infected plant and then go to one not infected. YOU will just spread  the mite.
>In handling infected plant material, wear disposable gloves, burn the plant material or place it in a plastic bag,
tie it up snuggly,  and put it and the gloves in the garbage.  Do NOT compost or recycle it.
>Shower and change your clothes before you work on clean plants—don’t let the mites hitchhike on you!
>Disinfect tools and containers.
>If possible, isolate infected plants and keep animals away; they could also carry mites to  other fuchsias.
IMPORTANT- Whatever chemical controls you use…
1. Choose products specified for Aculops fuchsiae/fuchsia gall mite or eriophyid mites & safe
for fuchsias or ornamental plants. Notice whether it’s an indoor  or outdoor product. Names
of pesticides can be similar and confusing.  Read the label!
2. Read the directions carefully and follow them so that plants are not re-infected.
3. Read and follow the safety precautions. Some products are toxic to humans and  other animals.

CONTACT SPRAYS- Partial/Temporary Control

After pruning and cleaning up infested plants, contact sprays can help control mites. Saturate the plant because light applications will build immunity. With contact sprays you want to get the new hatchlings, so remembering the life cycle,  three applications, 7-10 days apart are needed- or as directed for fuchsia mite on the product.
Contact sprays include horticultural oils and soaps which smother the mites (as well as other pests) like Safer Oil & Ultra Fine Oil (by Sunspray), Volck Oil (by Chevron), Hot Pepper Wax…
To be most effective, use with a ‘spreader sticker’.  
Control potential is limited with contact sprays; plants may be re-infected.
If you have had serious gall mite damage and/or have many fuchsias, you may choose stronger products with active ingredients that kill fuchsia mites. They have a much higher control potential, are relatively safe when correctly used and are longer lasting. For example- Bayer Advanced Complete Insect Killer & Garden Tech’s Sevin Bug Killer. (The active ingredient is carbaryl- hazard to bees and aquatic life. Keep away from standing water;  remove any blossoms that may attract bees. Spray outdoors and let dry if bringing back indoors.)
SYSTEMICS-  The Most Effective Control
Most effective are outdoor products with systemic qualities, but again, there are hazards to consider. Examples: Ortho Systemic Insect Killer (formerly Isotox- Concentrate- For fuchsia mite, Ortho recommends 3 times; 4 days apart) & Orthenex Garden Insect & Disease Control.
Commercial nurseries have access to products not available to the public. Ron Monnier, of Monnier’s Country Gardens in Woodburn, Oregon, has an effective spraying program and has had no gall mite.  
For further details- Ron at  

Dr. Carlton Koehler, et al, entomologist, Urban Pest Management, U. of California, AFS Bulletin, Aug., 1985.
AFS Bulletins- 1982-2005;
American Fuchsia Society-;
European Plant Protection Org.-;
Texas A & M Extension Service-;
Bayer, Ortho, & Sunspray product labels.
 NWFS Gall Mite Committee- Salli Dahl,; Frankie Dennison,; Ron Herzog, ; Gwen Jensen,; Jackie LaVerne-Crossman,; Ron Monnier,; Jay Siegel,
 March, 2006




The Northwest Fuchsia Society was established in 1983.


Mailing address:

Northwest Fuchsia Society

12735- 1st Ave. NW

Seattle, WA 98177-4221