Aleurodicus destructor (coconut whitefly)
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- Risk of Introduction
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Growth Stages
- List of Symptoms/Signs
- Biology and Ecology
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Detection and Inspection
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Distribution Maps
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IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Aleurodicus destructor Mackie, 1912
Preferred Common Name
- coconut whitefly
Other Scientific Names
- Aleurodes albofloccosa Froggatt, 1918
- Aleyrodicus destructor Mackie, 1912
International Common Names
- Spanish: mosca blanca del cocotero
- French: aleurode du cocotier
- ALEDDE (Aleurodicus destructor)
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Uniramia
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Hemiptera
- Suborder: Sternorrhyncha
- Unknown: Aleyrodoidea
- Family: Aleyrodidae
- Genus: Aleurodicus
- Species: Aleurodicus destructor
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page A. destructor is regarded as a typical representative of the genus Aleurodicus, which is the type genus of the subfamily Aleurodicinae. The subfamily is defined by characters occurring in the adults (relatively rich forewing venation, based on a bifurcated vein R, plus the veins M and Cu; legs with paronychium in shape of a large spine; ventral abdominal wax-producing areas usually arranged in three and four pairs, respectively in males and females) and the pupal cases (large wax-producing compound pores occurring on the subdorsum; lingula large, tongue-shaped, extending beyond the posterior margin of a vasiform orifice).
It is considered that the few species of the genus Aleurodicus (including A. destructor) described from southern Asia and the western Pacific are probably not congeneric with the Neotropical representatives of the same genus (Martin, 1996).
DescriptionTop of page Egg
Eggs are about 0.31 mm long, elongate in shape, and yellow to brownish, dusted with powdered wax. The stalk is short, bearing the egg in a prostrate position on the leaf.
Fourth-instar nymph (pupal case)
The pupal case is yellowish to brownish, subelliptical to ovate in shape, sometimes with a narrowed cephalad, 1.3-1.5 mm long and 0.8-1.0 mm wide, covered by a copious secretion of white wax. On infested leaves, specimens of A. destructor may be completely hidden by wax. The wax rods, emerging from compound pores, are unusually long, attaining in more perfect specimens a length of 12-15 mm; they are generally broken and intermingled with bands or plates of wax from the marginal tubes. The subdorsum has wax-producing compound pores; one cephalic (smaller than the other ones) and six abdominal pairs, the latter ones are similar in size (up to 90 µm in diameter). Only scattered tiny pores, without a submarginal zone of wide-rimmed pores punctuate the remainder of the dorsal surface. A vasiform orifice is subcordate, about as wide as it is long. The operculum is subrectangular, about twice as wide as it is long. The lingula is large, tongue-shaped, and extends beyond the posterior margin of the vasiform orifice and bears four setae, of which two are much reduced. This is the stage used for identification purposes.
The vertex is rounded. The antennae have seven segments, of which the third is the longest. Forewings have veins R1, Rs and M present, sometimes with an indication of the Cu. Legs have the paronychium represented by a large spine. Male claspers are long and narrow; the penis is recurved and short.
DistributionTop of page The subfamily Aleurodicinae is mostly Neotropical in distribution. However, A. destructor remains largely restricted to its native Austro-Oriental-Pacific zoogeographical region.
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 23 Apr 2020
Risk of IntroductionTop of page A. destructor is usually considered as a quarantine pest and its spread over the tropics should be limited. Quarantine authorities in Europe (for example, UK) have occasionally intercepted it, but it has not become established.
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page The host range of A. destructor is less wide than that of A. cocois or A. dispersus. A. destructor is most likely to be encountered on palms.
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
|Acacia (wattles)||Fabaceae||Wild host|
|Annona squamosa (sugar apple)||Annonaceae||Other|
|Cocos nucifera (coconut)||Arecaceae||Main|
|Ficus microcarpa (Indian laurel tree)||Moraceae||Wild host|
|Phyllanthus acidus (star gooseberry)||Euphorbiaceae||Main|
|Piper nigrum (black pepper)||Piperaceae||Other|
Growth StagesTop of page Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Post-harvest, Vegetative growing stage
SymptomsTop of page A. destructor almost exclusively colonizes the leaves of host plants, on which the adults oviposit and the young larvae settle after having inserted their mouth stylets. On infested leaves, the occurrence of A. destructor is evidenced by the dense tangle of white wax filaments that are abundantly secreted by the nymphs (through dorsal compound pores). Moreover, spots of sticky and transparent honeydew appear in the leaf areas where individuals of A. destructor occur, and they soon become covered in black sooty mould. In case of heavy infestations, honeydew may come to cover the whole aerial part of the plant (leaves, stems and fruits) and this may lead to the plants acquiring an almost completely black appearance.
List of Symptoms/SignsTop of page
|Fruit / honeydew or sooty mould|
|Inflorescence / honeydew or sooty mould|
|Leaves / honeydew or sooty mould|
|Stems / honeydew or sooty mould|
Biology and EcologyTop of page A. destructor is usually a polyvoltine species, having continuous cycles throughout the year, at least where conditions are optimal and host plants are available.
Natural enemiesTop of page
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page The natural enemies of A. destructor are poorly known. Neuroptera (Chrysopa sp.), Coccinellidae (Scymnus sp.) and Syrphidae (Bacca sp.) are predators of A. destructor (Costa Lima, 1968). The chalcid wasp, Coccophagus sp. is a parasitoid of A. destructor (Sorauer, 1956).
ImpactTop of page A. destructor is an occasional pest in tropical Australia.
DiagnosisTop of page A preparation of pupal cases in a slide mount (according to the procedures of Martin (1987)) may be used to confirm diagnosis. Martin and Watson (1998) provide a key to species of Aleurodicus on coconut in the Caribbean.
Detection and InspectionTop of page The leaves, and especially their undersides, must be inspected for the characteristic waxy masses that indicate the occurrence of a nymphal colony. Sooty mould and honeydew coat surfaces below the colony.
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page Several species of the genus Aleurodicus are crop pests. In addition to A. destructor, the Neotropical species A. pulvinatus, A. cocois and A. dispersus are similar. The latter is easily detectable, having only four pairs of abdominal compound pores on the dorsum of pupal case. A. pulvinatus, A. cocois and A. destructor all live on coconut and other palms. They may be distinguished by peculiar characters of the dorsal abdominal compound wax pores; all are similar in size and very large in A. destructor, but the posterior two pairs are much smaller than the remaining ones in A. pulvinatus and A. cocois. The lingula has all four setae markedly conspicuous in A. pulvinatus and A. cocois, wheras two setae are more reduced in A. destructor (Martin, 1987).
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.Biological control has a key role in achieving lasting control of A. destructor. Chemical applications, which usually ensure only a temporary suppression, followed by a resurgence of the pest, should be considered only in case of heavy infestations or when eradication of the insect from a newly colonized area is attempted. The use of oil emulsions containing organophosphorus insecticides may be considered. Particular attention should be paid to carefully treating the upper and lower surfaces of leaves.
ReferencesTop of page
APPPC, 1987. Insect pests of economic significance affecting major crops of the countries in Asia and the Pacific region. Technical Document No. 135. Bangkok, Thailand: Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific region (RAPA).
AVA, 2001. Diagnostic records of the Plant Health Diagnostic Services, Plant Health Centre, Agri-food & Veterinary Authority, Singapore.
Costa Lima A. Da, 1968. Quarto catalogo dos insetos que vivem nas plants do Brasil seus parasitos e predadores. Rio de Janeiro, 2 (1): 622 pp.
EPPO, 2014. PQR database. Paris, France: European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization. http://www.eppo.int/DATABASES/pqr/pqr.htm
Martin JH, 1988. Whitefly of northern Sulawesi, including new species from clove and avocado (Homoptera, Aleyrodidae). Indo-Malayan Zoology, 5:57-85.
Sorauer P, 1956. Handbuch der Pflanzenkrankheiten. Berlin, Germany, 399 pp.
Waterhouse DF, 1993. The Major Arthropod Pests and Weeds of Agriculture in Southeast Asia. ACIAR Monograph No. 21. Canberra, Australia: Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, 141 pp.
APPPC, 1987. Insect pests of economic significance affecting major crops of the countries in Asia and the Pacific region. In: Technical Document No. 135, Bangkok, Thailand: Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific region (RAPA).
AVA, 2001. Diagnostic records of the Plant Health Diagnostic Services., Singapore: Plant Health Centre Agri-food & Veterinary Authority.
CABI, Undated. CABI Compendium: Status as determined by CABI editor. Wallingford, UK: CABI
Martin JH, 1988. Whitefly of northern Sulawesi, including new species from clove and avocado (Homoptera, Aleyrodidae). In: Indo-Malayan Zoology, 5 57-85.
NHM, 1907. Specimen record from the collection in the Natural History Museum (London, UK)., London, UK: Natural History Museum (London).
NHM, 1996. Specimen record from the collection in the Natural History Museum (London, UK)., London, UK: Natural History Museum (London).
Distribution MapsTop of page
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