Feeding, Reproduction, and Development of the Red Palm Mite (Acari: Tenuipalpidae) on Selected Palms and Banana Cultivars in Quarantine

Arturo Cocco, Marjorie A. Hoy


The red palm mite, Raoiella indica Hirst, an important pest of coconut, banana, and date palms is a new invasive pest in the Western Hemisphere. The red palm mite (RPM) has been observed attacking bananas and plantains in Dominica and in Florida (M. A. Hoy, A. Cocco, personal observation). In order to develop an efficient method to rear the RPM in quarantine for a classical biological control project, several banana and plantain varieties were tested as hosts for the RPM. Bananas are more desirable than coconut (a favored host plant) because bananas are easier to rear in small cages and will produce new shoots quickly after pruning. Red palm mite females did not establish on the banana and plantain varieties (Dwarf Cavendish, Dwarf Nino, Gran Nain, Dwarf Zan Moreno, Dwarf Green, Truly Tiny, Musa sumatrana × Gran Nain, Dwarf Puerto Rican, Rose, Nang Phaya, Misi Luki, Manzano, Lady Finger, Glui Kai, and Ebun Musak) of leaf discs tested, but they established on coconut leaf discs. The mites could not be reared on potted banana trees (Glui Kai, Dwarf Green, and Nang Phaya varieties), but a multigenerational colony has been maintained on coconut trees and leaf discs. No RPM females survived on native palms tested (saw palmetto, cabbage palm, and dwarf palmetto), but RPM completed a generation on needle palm, with longer development time, higher mortality, and lower fecundity than when reared on coconut discs. Our results indicate that coconut leaf discs and trees are better hosts for rearing RPM in quarantine than banana, plantain varieties, or native palms tested. Quarantine tests and field observations suggest that the host range of RPM may not be as broad as some reports indicate because plants from which RPM adults and/or eggs have been collected might not be suitable for establishment of a multigenerational colony. More studies under natural conditions need to be conducted to evaluate the ability of R. indica to establish and spread on native and ornamental palms in natural landscapes in Florida.

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