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CAB Review

The underestimated worth of predatory and parasitic mites in India: does it really have to import exotic species for biological control?


Predatory and parasitic mites are likely to assume a greater role in crop protection as world attention is now focused on finding out alternative means of agricultural pest management, and some may be beneficial in the medical and veterinary fields. This review on the status of research on predatory and parasitic mites in India is written in the light of the recent push for introduction of exotic phytoseiid mites into the country. It provides an overview of the predatory mites associated with agri-horticultural crops as well as of some insects of public health importance in India and also of some known from outside the country for appreciating their potential. It has information on predatory mites representing 27 families under three orders, viz. Mesostigmata, Trombidiformes (suborder Prostigmata), Sarcoptiformes (suborder Oribatida, cohort Astigmatina and also cohort excluding Astigmatina). Since phytoseiid mites are the most dominant, highly effective, economically important and widespread predators, the major emphasis has been laid on this family. The promising predators that emerged out of this review are: Amblyseius channabasavannai, A. herbicolus, A. largoensis, Euseius alstoniae, E. finlandicus, E. ovalis, Neoseiulus fallacis, N. longispinosus, Scapulaseius suknaensis, Transeius tetranychivorus (Phytoseiidae); Agistemus fleschneri, A. industani, Eryngiopus coimbatorensis (Stigmaeidae); Anystis baccarum, Walzia Indiana (Anystidae); Cunaxa setirostris (Cunaxidae); Pronematus fleshneri (Lolinidae); and Pyemotes tritici (Pyemotidae), all associated with various agri-horticultural crops; Microtrombidium saharanpuri and Arrenurus species parasitizing housefly and mosquitoes, respectively. Since many of the predatory mite families appear to be still unexplored, those need immediate attention for exploration, documentation and profitable exploitation. The need to give more emphasis and encouragement to indigenous predatory mites than to exotic species is also discussed.