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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Mite Systematics and Arthropod Diagnostics with Emphasis on Invasive Species

Location: Systematic Entomology

Title: Travelling with tea: a Tuckerella’s tale

Authors
item Beard, J. -
item Ochoa, Ronald
item Childers, C. -
item Bauchan, G. -
item Shepard, M. -

Submitted to: Experimental and Applied Acarology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 20, 2012
Publication Date: January 15, 2013
Citation: Beard, J.J., Ochoa, R., Childers, C.C., Bauchan, G.R., Shepard, M. 2013. Travelling with tea: a Tuckerella’s tale. Experimental and Applied Acarology. 59(1-2):177-202.

Interpretive Summary: Few Peacock mites are pests on crops, ornamental plants, and forest and fruit trees. They are very small and have been associated with feeding on the bark, root and fruit of some commercial trees. Artifacts from mounting media and type of microscope used are complicating the recognition of the key character for identification of the most common species. This article address and illustrates the morphology and provides new characters to identify two agriculturally important peacock mite species. This study contributes information for identification of plant feeding mites that will be useful for biologists, entomologists, zoologists and students involved in studies of nature and classification.

Technical Abstract: Tuckerella japonica appears strongly associated with tea (Camellia sinensis (L.) Kuntze., Theaceae) and, due to certain cultural practices in tea production, has in fact become a world traveller, accompanying the greatly coveted tea plant as it spread across the planet. The history of tea production and culture, and its arrival in the USA, provides the backdrop for this traveller’s tale.Tuckerella japonica is morphologically similar to T. flabellifera Miller, described from Tasmania in Australia from Bedfordia salicina (Labill.) D.G. (Asteraceae). These two species have historically been misidentified as each other, creating inaccuracies in the collection records. The implications of this in terms of host plant lists and world distribution are discussed further, along with their morphological separation. Tuckerella xinglongensis Lin and Fu, from tea in China, is considered a junior synonym of T. japonica.

Last Modified: 9/22/2014