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First report of Raoiella indica (Acari: Tenuipalpidae) in southeastern Brazil.

The red palm mite, Raoiella indica Hirst (Acari: Tenuipalpidae), has been reported to cause major losses to coconut, Cocos nucifera L. (Arecales: Arecaceae), in the Caribbean area (Castillo 2008). Since its description in 1924 from southern India (Hirst 1924), the distribution of the red palm mite remained restricted to the Old World until 2004, when it was found damaging coconut on the Caribbean island of Martinique (Flechtmann & Etienne 2004). The red palm mite subsequently spread quickly throughout the topical New World, reaching the southern section of North America and northern section of South America (Carrillo et al. 2011). In recently invaded areas of the Americas, R. indica has greatly extended its host range and is currently recorded on 91 host plant species in 6 families (Carrillo et al. 2012).

In South America, the red palm mite was first reported from Venezuela in 2007 (Vasquez et al. 2008), alerting Brazilian researchers to the risk it posed to Brazil. Due to the potential impact of this mite, it was added in 2007 by the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture to the list of quarantine pests. An extensive survey was initiated in 2007 in Roraima, a Brazilian state bordering Venezuela, but R. indica was not found. However, in July 2009, the red palm mite was found in samples of coconut and banana leaves from the urban area of Boa Vista, the capital of Roraima (Navia et al. 2011).

In an attempt to prevent the spread of the red palm mite to other states, the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture adopted quarantine measures prohibiting the movement of bananas and other host plants from areas in Roraima, where the red palm mite was established, to the neighboring state of Amazonas. This measure failed to prevent the spread of the red palm mite over the following 2 yr to the urban area of Manaus, where it was collected from C. nucifera, Veitchia merrillii (Becc.) H. E. Moore (Arecales: Arecaceae) and Caryota mitis Lour. (Arecales: Arecaceae) (Rodrigues & Antony 2011). Because of its occurrence in Roraima and Amazonas states, the status of the red palm mite was changed in 2013 from quarantine pest that is absent to quarantine pest of restricted distribution in Brazil, allowing other states to adopt measures to prevent its entry.

In May 2015, casual examination of leaflets of Phoenix roebelenii O'Brien (Arecales: Arecaceae) in a public garden of the urban area of Dracena (21.483589[degrees]S, 51.533147[degrees]W), in the western region of the state of Sao Paulo, southeastern Brazil, and of leaflets of C. nucifera and Rhapis excelsa (Thunb.) A. Henry (Arecales: Arecaceae), from a private property (21.464086[degrees]S, 51.549114[degrees]W) in the outskirts of Dracena, showed the presence of mites similar to R. indica. On both properties, the plants had been established in the ground for a long time. Mite samples were collected in 70% ethanol, and representatives were slide-mounted in Hoyer's medium for examination with phase contrast microscopy. Voucher specimens were deposited in the Mite Reference collection at the Acarology Laboratory, Departamento de Entomologia e Acarologia, Escola Superior de Agricultura "Luiz de Queiroz," Universidade de Sao Paulo, in Piracicaba, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Leaflets examined showed typical symptoms of attack by the red palm mite, characterized by severe yellowing of the leaflets, especially those of coconut plantlets (Fig. 1). All red palm mite developmental stages and numerous exuviae were found on the 3 hosts (Fig. 2A-D), suggesting that this mite may have been in Dracena for some time. A memorandum documenting the red palm mite was sent to the Plant Health Service of the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, at Sao Paulo, on 1 Jun 2015 to prompt the adoption of appropriate measures.

Finding the red palm mite in Dracena, about 2,300 km from the next nearest known occurrence in Brazil, represents a major expansion in distribution. In an estimate of the potential geographic distribution of the red palm mite in South America, Amaro & Morais (2013) concluded that the environmental conditions of Dracena (CEPAGRI 2015) makes it only marginally suitable to support the red palm mite. The great distance and the presence of the Amazon forest between Dracena and Manaus suggests that spread of the red palm mite via natural dispersion to Sao Paulo is unlikely, and that the red palm mite reached the state of Sao Paulo by transportation of host plants, probably coconut or ornamental Arecaceae.

Based on these observations and the extent of trade and traffic between Sao Paulo and northeastern Brazil, it seems that the arrival of R. indica to that region is imminent. Because the prevailing climatic conditions of low rainfall and high temperature are favorable for the development of the red palm mite (Nagesha-Chandra & Channabasavanna 1983; Taylor et al. 2012), introduction of the red palm mite to northeastern Brazil, which is the major regional producer of coconuts, is likely to significantly impact the coconut industry in the region (Navia et al. 2011; Gondim et al. 2012; Amaro & Morais 2013).

Brazil is the 4th largest coconut producer, after Indonesia, the Philippines, and India (FAO 2013), and the 3 largest producing states in Brazil (Bahia, Ceara, and Sergipe) are located in the northeastern region (IBGE 2010). The arrival of R. indica to those states has the potential to cause heavy economic loss and social and cultural disturbance. Thus, efforts should be made to reduce the possibility of the spread of the red palm mite to those states.

We are extremely grateful to Coordenacao de Aperfeicoamento de Pessoal de Nivel Superior (CAPES) and to Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Cientifico e Tecnologico (CNPq) for the research fellowships to the authors.

References Cited

Amaro G, Morais EGF. 2013. Potential geographical distribution of the red palm mite in South America. Experimental and Applied Acarology 60: 343-355. Carrillo D, Navia D, Ferragut F, Pena JE. 2011. First report of Raoiella indica (Acari: Tenuipalpidae) in Colombia. Florida Entomologist 94: 370-371.

Carrillo D, Amalin D, Hosein F, Roda A, Duncan RE, Pena JE. 2012. Host plant range of Raoiella indica (Acari: Tenuipalpidae) in areas of invasion of the New World. Experimental and Applied Acarology 57: 271-289.

Castillo K. 2008. Coconuts under threat. Trinidad & Tobago Express, http://www. (last accessed in Apr 2008).

CEPAGRI. 2015. Clima dos municipios paulistas, outras-informacoes/clima_muni_161.html (last accessed in Jun 2015).

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Flechtmann CHW, Etienne J. 2004. The red palm mite, Raoiella indica Hirst, a threat to palms in the Americas (Acari: Prostigmata: Tenuipalpidae). Systematic and Applied Acarology 9: 109-110.

Gondim Jr MGC, Castro TMMG, Marsaro Jr AL, Navia D, Melo JWS, Demite PR, Moraes GJ. 2012. Can the red palm mite threaten the Amazon vegetation? Systematics and Biodiversity 10: 527-535.

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IBGE. 2010. Producao Agricola Municipal, br/series.aspx?no=1&op=0&vcodigo=PA9&t=lavoura-permanente-quantidade-produzida (last accessed in May 2015).

Nagesha-Chandra BK, Channabasavanna GP. 1983. Studies on seasonal fluctuation of the population of Raoiella indica (Acari: Tenuipalpidae) on coconut with reference to weather parameters. Indian Journal of Acarology 8: 104-111.

Navia D, Marsaro Jr AL, Silva FR, Gondim Jr MGC, Moraes GJ. 2011. First report of the red palm mite, Raoiella indica Hirst (Acari: Tenuipalpidae), in Brazil. Neotropical Entomology 40: 409-411.

Rodrigues JCV, Antony LMK. 2011. First report of Raoiella indica (Acari: Tenuipalpidae) in Amazonas State, Brazil. Florida Entomologist 94: 1073-1074.

Taylor B, Rahman PM, Murphy ST, Sudheendrakumar VV. 2012. Within-season dynamics of red palm mite (Raoiella indica) and phytoseiid predators on two host palm species in south-west India. Experimental and Applied Acarology 57: 331-345.

Vasquez C, Quiros GM, Aponte O, Sandoval DMF. 2008. First report of Raoiella indica Hirst (Acari: Tenuipalpidae) in South America. Neotropical Entomology 37: 739-740.

Daniel Chiaradia Oliveira (1) *, Evandro Pereira Prado (2), Gilberto Jose de Moraes (3,6), Elisangela Gomes Fidelis de Morais (1), Edvan Alves Chagas (1,6), Manoel Guedes Correa Gondim Jr. (4,6), and Denise Navia (5,6)

(1) Embrapa Roraima, Boa Vista, Roraima, 69301-970, Brasil

(2) Universidade Estadual Paulista "Julio de Mesquita Filho", Dracena, Sao Paulo, 17900-000, Brasil

(3) Escola Superior de Agricultura "Luiz de Queiroz", Universidade de Sao Paulo, Departamento de Entomologia e Acarologia, Piracicaba, Sao Paulo, 13418-900, Brasil

(4) Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco, Recife, Pernambuco, 52171-900, Brasil

(5) Embrapa Recursos Geneticos e Biotecnologia, Brasilia, Distrito Federal, 70770-917, Brasil

(6) CNPq researcher

* Corresponding author; E-mail:

Caption: Figs. 1 and 2. The red palm mite, Raoiella indica, in Dracena, Sao Paulo, Brazil. 1. Symptoms on leaves of a coconut plantlet. 2. A, Adult female; B, post-embryonic immature; C, eggs; and D, exuviae.


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Author:Oliveira, Daniel Chiaradia; Prado, Evandro Pereira; de Moraes, Gilberto Jose; de Morais, Elisangela
Publication:Florida Entomologist
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:3BRAZ
Date:Mar 1, 2016
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