Potential Pest Mite Species Collected on Ornamental Plants from Central America at Port of Entry to the United States

Carl C. Childers, Jose Carlos V. Rodrigues


Twenty-four plant shipments arriving via air cargo from Guatemala, Honduras, and Costa Rica to Miami International airport in Florida, were sampled on February 6-7, 2003. Random samples of rooted plants or cuttings were washed in 80 ethanol to collect the mite species present. Altogether 81 mites in 11 families were identified in 12 plant shipments (i.e., 50 of the 24 shipments sampled were found to contain mites). Plant mite pests included Brevipalpus phoenicis (Geijskes), Fungitarsonemus sp., Polyphagotarsonemus latus (Banks), Tarsonemus sp., Tarsonemus confusus Ewing, Tetranychus urticae Koch, Tetranychus sp., and Rhizoglyphus sp. (Acaridae). These mites, recovered from a variety of ornamental plant genera, are potentially serious pests. Of special importance is B. phoenicis because it is a known vector of citrus leprosis and several related viruses of ornamental plants that occur in Central and South America. A dilemma exists because many of these diseases, including citrus leprosis, do not occur in the United States, but potential vectors are already present. Relevant needs include (a) a special sampling program for mites on live plant materials received at ports of entry, (b) new legislation that requires imported plant propagules to be free of pest species of mites, and (c) mandatory risk mitigation in nurseries abroad where shipments originate and pre-clearance at the port of export.

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