Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Aleurodicus destructor
(coconut whitefly)

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Datasheet

Aleurodicus destructor (coconut whitefly)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 20 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Aleurodicus destructor
  • Preferred Common Name
  • coconut whitefly
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Uniramia
  •         Class: Insecta
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    Compendia
    CAB International
    Wallingford
    Oxfordshire
    OX10 8DE
    UK
    compend@cabi.org
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Identity

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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

EPPO code

  • ALEDDE (Aleurodicus destructor)

Taxonomic Tree

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  • 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 Nomenclature

Top 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).

Description

Top 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.

Adults

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.

Distribution

Top 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 Table

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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 Introduction

Top 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 Affected

Top 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 Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContext
Acacia (wattles)FabaceaeWild host
Annona squamosa (sugar apple)AnnonaceaeOther
BanksiaProteaceaeWild host
CinnamomumLauraceaeOther
Cocos nucifera (coconut)ArecaceaeMain
Ficus microcarpa (Indian laurel tree)MoraceaeWild host
Phyllanthus acidus (star gooseberry)EuphorbiaceaeMain
Piper nigrum (black pepper)PiperaceaeOther

Growth Stages

Top of page Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Post-harvest, Vegetative growing stage

Symptoms

Top 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/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Fruit / honeydew or sooty mould
Inflorescence / honeydew or sooty mould
Leaves / honeydew or sooty mould
Stems / honeydew or sooty mould

Biology and Ecology

Top 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 enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Baccha Predator
Chrysopa Predator
Coccophagus Parasite
Scymnus Predator

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top 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).

Impact

Top of page A. destructor is an occasional pest in tropical Australia.

Diagnosis

Top 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 Inspection

Top 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/Conditions

Top 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 Control

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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.

References

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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, 1985. The whitefly of New Guinea (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae). Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History), Entomology, 50(3):303-351.

Martin JH, 1987. An identification guide to common whitefly pest species of the world (Homoptera, Aleyrodidae). Tropical Pest Management, 33(4):298-322.

Martin JH, 1988. Whitefly of northern Sulawesi, including new species from clove and avocado (Homoptera, Aleyrodidae). Indo-Malayan Zoology, 5:57-85.

Martin JH, 1996. Neotropical whiteflies of the subfamily Aleurodicinae established in the western Palaearctic (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae). Journal of Natural History, 30(12):1849-1859; 16 ref.

Martin JH; Watson GW, 1998. Aleurodicus pulvinatus (Maskell) (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae), and its emergence as a pest of coconut in the Caribbean. Journal of Natural History, 32(1):85-98; 20 ref.

Mound LA; Halsey SH, 1978. Whitefly of the world. A systematic catalogue of the Aleyrodidae (Homoptera) with host plant and natural enemy data. Chichester, UK: John Wiley and Sons.

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.

Distribution References

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

EPPO, 2020. EPPO Global database. In: EPPO Global database, Paris, France: EPPO.

Martin J H, 1985. The whitefly of New Guinea (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae). Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History), Entomology. 50 (3), 303-351.

Martin JH, 1988. Whitefly of northern Sulawesi, including new species from clove and avocado (Homoptera, Aleyrodidae). In: Indo-Malayan Zoology, 5 57-85.

Mound L A, Halsey S H, 1978. Whitefly of the world. A systematic catalogue of the Aleyrodidae (Homoptera) with host plant and natural enemy data. Chichester, UK: John Wiley and Sons. [6+] 340 pp.

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).

Waterhouse D F, 1993. The major arthropod pests and weeds of agriculture in Southeast Asia. Canberra, Australia: ACIAR. v + 141 pp.

Distribution Maps

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