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Title: Red Palm Mite Situation in the Caribbean and Florida

item RODA, AMY
item Ochoa, Ronald - Ron

Submitted to: Caribbean Food Crops Society Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/6/2009
Publication Date: 4/4/2010
Citation: Roda, A., Dowling, A., Welbourn, C., Pena, J., Rodrigues, J.C., Hoy, M., Ochoa, R., Russell, D., De Chi, W. 2010. Red Palm Mite Situation in the Caribbean and Florida. Caribbean Food Crops Society Proceedings. 44(1):80-87.

Interpretive Summary: Red Palm Mite is a new invasive pest in the Americas that infests coconut, bananas, and several ornamental plants, including gingers, heliconias and palms. The invasive red palm mite was introduced to Martinique and spread quickly to other islands of the Caribbean including Puerto Rico, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago, and recently Venezuela and the U.S. (Florida). This mite causes chlorosis and necrosis of the leaf and the population sizes range from hundreds to millions of mites per plant. The importance of this paper is to report the recent introduction of this mite to the U.S. This species is a threat to the ornamental industry of the U.S. and to the palm and banana industries of the Americas. This report will be important to taxonomists, quarantine programs, and to persons involved with the ornamental industry, integrated pest management and control.

Technical Abstract: The red palm mite (Raoiella indica Hirst Tenuipalpidae), a pest of coconuts and ornamental palms in Asia and Africa, was reported in the Caribbean in 2004. By 2008, it had spread to at least twelve islands, two counties in Florida and to Venezuela. Red palm mite causes yellowing and leaf necrosis with severe reduction of leaf stomatal conductance. Coconut growers are reporting > 70% reduction in yield. Genetic studies of red palm mite collected from multiple regions in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean revealed several distinct haplotypes. All Caribbean samples have the same haplotype, which matches samples from coconut in Réunion and areca palms in India. The populations from coconut in India exhibited a different haplotype. Biological control and pesticide options are being studied to manage the pest. The efficacy of acaricides against red palm mite was tested to provide palm, banana and ornamental nursery growers with an updated list of acaricides with good control potential. Natural enemy studies in the Caribbean have shown that thrips, phytoseiid, lacewing, and coccinelid predators attack red palm mite. Fungal infections have been reported in Puerto Rico, Dominica and Trinidad. Predatory mite numbers, especially in the Phytoseiidae, increase in response to higher numbers of red palm mites. However, these local predators do not appear to be controlling red palm mite outbreaks. Foreign exploration for natural enemies is being conducted in Mauritius and India. A phytoseiid predator is currently being evaluated in quarantine in Gainesville, Florida.