Potential of native palm species in northeast Brazil as hosts for the invasive mite Raoiella indica (Acari: Tenuipalpidae).
The red palm mite, Raoiella indica Hirst (Tenuipalpidae), has mainly been registered on palm species (Arecaceae), and its expansion in Brazil has the potential to cause significant negative impact on cultivated as well as native palms. Here, we evaluate the potential of native palms from Northeast Brazil to act as hosts of R. indica. Specifically, we used in situ free-choice and confinement tests, in which sections of palm leaves/leaflets of various species were experimentally infested with R. indica. We tested the following species: Acrocomia aculeata, Acrocomia intumescens, Allagoptera caudescens, Attalea funifera, Attalea oleifera, Bactris acanthocarpa var. acanthocarpa, Bactris ferruginea, Bactris glassmanii, Bactris hirta var. spruceana, Bactris pickelii, Copernicia prunifera, Desmoncus orthacanthos, Desmoncus polyacanthos, Syagrus coronata and Syagrus schizophylla. All of these were compared with the mite's preferred host, the coconut palm, Cocos nucifera. In the free-choice test, both male and female R. indica preferred C. nucifera in comparison to each of the native palms. In the confinement test, we observed significant differences in the survivorship between mites on native palms and those on coconut palms after the second day of infestation. By the fifth day, survivorship of mites on the native palms was almost always significantly lower than on C. nucifera (excepting for C. prunifera). We conclude that, among all the native palms evaluated, only the carnauba palm (C. prunifera) is at risk from R. indica. This result is relevant as this palm is an economically important species in the region.