Aceria guerreronis (coconut mite)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- 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
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Plant Trade
- Detection and Inspection
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Aceria guerreronis Keifer
Preferred Common Name
- coconut mite
Other Scientific Names
- Eriophyes guerreronis Keifer
International Common Names
- Spanish: acaro del cocotero
- French: acarien du cocotier; ravageur du cocotier (dahomey)
- Portuguese: acaro da necrose do olho do coqueiro
Local Common Names
- Germany: Milbe, Kokosblueten-
- ACEIGU (Aceria guerreronis)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
The coconut mite, Aceria guerreronis, is considered the most important pest of coconuts in the Americas, Africa and most recently in South-East Asia. Although its exact origin is debatable it is likely to be native to South America and introduced to Africa and Asia, where it is an invasive species (Navia et al., 2005).
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Chelicerata
- Class: Arachnida
- Subclass: Acari
- Superorder: Acariformes
- Suborder: Prostigmata
- Family: Eriophyidae
- Genus: Aceria
- Species: Aceria guerreronis
DescriptionTop of page
Keifer (1965) first described A. guerreronis. The adult female coconut mite is vermiform, 36-52 µm wide and 205-255 µm long with two pairs of legs and a finely ringed body with several long setae. The genital opening of both sexes is positioned proximally, closely behind the legs.
DistributionTop of page
Since first reported from Mexico, A. guerreronis has been reported from many coconut-growing regions of the Americas, in West Africa from Côte d'Ivoire to Nigeria (Hall and Espinosa, 1981) and Gambia (Howard et al., 2001), Tanzania, India and Sri Lanka (Sathiama et al., 1998; CRI/UNDP, 2000).
A record of A. guerreronis in Australia published in previous versions of the Compendium was erroneous and has been removed. Halliday and Knihinicki (2004) and Coutts et al. (2008) clearly refer to wheat curl mite, Aceria tosichella, in Australia and not A. guerreronis.
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.
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
Probably limited in that only young nutlets carry the mite and these are unlikely to be transported.
HabitatTop of page
A. guerreronis occurs under the perianth of young nutlets of Cocos nucifera, largely from a few weeks to 7-8 months after fertilisation of the female flower. Migrating individuals may be found on the nut surface and populations have been recorded on seedlings.
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
A. guerreronis is the only species of eriophyoid mite considered to be a serious pest of coconuts, Cocos nucifera. It was first described in 1965 from specimens from Guerrero State, Mexico (Keifer, 1965). Until reported from Lytocaryum weddellianum, a cocosoid palm species, it was only known from the coconut (Flechtmann, 1989) but has since been reported on Borassus flabellifer and Syagrusromanzoffiana.
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
Growth StagesTop of page Fruiting stage, Seedling stage
SymptomsTop of page
Populations of the mite develop on the meristematic zone of the young nuts, from as early as one month after fertilization. This area is covered by the perianth (collectively, the tepals, and often referred to as the bracts). Feeding of the mites in this zone apparently causes physical damage so that as newly formed tissue expands, the surface becomes necrotic and suberized, usually in distinct 'v' shape(s) extending down from the perianth. Uneven growth results in distortion and stunting of the coconut; usually the younger the nut when first attacked the greater the severity of damage.
List of Symptoms/SignsTop of page
|Fruit / abnormal shape|
|Fruit / gummosis|
|Fruit / malformed skin|
|Fruit / premature drop|
|Fruit / reduced size|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
Relatively little is known of the biology of A. guerreronis; a review of eriophyoid mites of coconuts by Moore and Howard (1996) focused on this species and much of the data are derived from that work.
The adult female coconut mite is 36-52 µm wide and 205-255 µm long (Keifer, 1965). It can pass between the upper and lower tepals to reach the fruit surface covered by the perianth within a few weeks to a month after fertilization of the flower (Ortega et al., 1965; Mariau and Julia, 1970; Hall and Espinosa, 1981; Moore and Alexander, 1987; Howard and Abreu-Rodríguez, 1991). The perianth almost completely covers the young fruit, providing protection against many hazards. During the first month of development the tepals are tightly adpressed to the fruit (Howard and Abreu-Rodríguez, 1991), so that the perianth gives maximal protection. As the fruit develops, it becomes increasingly larger in relation to the perianth, and within about a month spaces develop between the coconut surface and the perianth which are sufficiently large to permit the entry of coconut mites. With a development cycle from egg to adult of about 10 days (Mariau, 1977) mite numbers can build up rapidly. Spermatophores associated with coconut mite colonies have been observed underneath the perianth, showing that reproductive activities take place there. The fruits remain susceptible to mite attack almost throughout the whole development, but decreasingly so after the nut reaches full size. On more mature fruits (10-13 months), coconut mites are found rarely and in small numbers (Hall and Espinoza, 1981; Moore and Alexander, 1987).
The coconut mite is found in tropical and subtropical climates, but populations can survive both short periods of freezing temperatures and periods of cool temperatures more prolonged than those normally encountered where coconut palms are grown (Howard et al., 1990). Some workers claim that coconut mite attacks are more severe in relatively dry climates or during the dry season of wetter climates (Zuluaga and Sanchez, 1971; Griffith, 1984). However, in other localities there is no detectable relationship between coconut mite populations and wet and dry weather (Doreste, 1968; Mariau, 1969, 1977; Howard et al., 1990).
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
|Acremonium recifei||Pathogen||Adults/Nymphs||Ivory Coast||Cocos nucifera|
|Hirsutella thompsonii||Pathogen||Adults/Larvae/Nymphs||St Lucia||Cocos nucifera|
|Sporothrix fungorum||Pathogen||Kumar et al., 2001|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
The following information has been drawn from Moore and Howard (1996). The coconut mite is not attacked by parasitoids, and their sheltered habitat and biology provide few opportunities for other natural enemies to be effective. Theoretically, predators could attack the coconut mite during dispersal, which occurs regularly (Moore and Alexander, 1987), and some have been observed occupying the meristematic zone of coconut fruits. These include Bdella distincta, Amblyseius largoensis, Neoseiulus mumai and N. paspalivorus (Howard et al., 1990), two phytoseiids and a tarsonemid (Julia and Mariau, 1979). Predaceous mites are observed only occasionally and in very small populations on infested coconuts, and there is no evidence that they make a significant impact on coconut mite populations (Hall et al., 1980; Howard et al., 1990). In Sri Lanka, N. paspalivorus is considered to cause significant reductions in pest populations (CRI/UNDP, 2000).
The acerogenous fungus, Hirsutella thompsoni, has been isolated from samples of coconut mites from tropical America and West Africa (Hall et al., 1980) and from samples of Colomerus novahebridensis from New Hebrides, New Guinea and Sri Lanka (Hall et al., 1980). In Mexico, up to 75% mortality was achieved using the fungus (Espinosa and Carrillo, 1986), but no success was reported in West Africa (Anon., 1989) or from limited trials in St Lucia (Moore et al., 1989). In laboratory trials, Sampedro and Rosa (1989) tested seven isolates of H. thompsonii; mortality ranged from 88% with an isolate from A. guerreronis to 32% with one obtained from Phyllocoptruta oleivora.
Another acerogenous species attacking A. guerreronis, Hirsutella nodulosa, has been reported from Cuba (Cabrera and Dominguez, 1987).
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
Natural Dispersal (non-biotic)
The principal method by which coconut mites spread and colonize new palms, particularly over long distances, is almost certainly through aerial dispersal of inseminated female mites. The coconut palm provides a large target for aerially dispersed organisms, and air currents may carry the mites to racemes, or to the more vertical leaves in the crown, from which they may drop to inflorescences. Coconut mites can walk between touching inflorescences, and, being negatively geotactic, tend to move from older to younger inflorescences (Moore and Alexander, 1987). Coconut mites walk at a rate of 20-100 µm per second but are probably inefficient in finding sites to colonize. A high reproductive rate and rapid development compensate for inefficient dispersal and host-finding.
Some dispersal may take place by phoresy, either on animals directly attracted to the inflorescences (for example, pollinating insects such as bees; rodents which feed on the fruits), or on those attracted by such animals (for example, predatory lizards, birds, predaceous insects).
This is unlikely as the mature nut is not infested by mites.
Coconut seedlings can be infested and it is theoretically possible for dispersal to occur by movement of seedlings; this has not been reported.
Movement in Trade
This is unlikely as the mature nut is not infested by mites.
Plant TradeTop of page
|Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transport||Pest stages||Borne internally||Borne externally||Visibility of pest or symptoms|
|Fruits (inc. pods)||adults; eggs; larvae; nymphs||Yes||Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope|
|Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport|
|Growing medium accompanying plants|
|Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches|
|True seeds (inc. grain)|
ImpactTop of page
Accurate crop loss assessments are rarely done, but estimates range from 7.5% (Julia and Mariau, 1979) and 30% (Hernández, 1977) to 60% (Griffith, 1984) and some attacks may be so bad that farmers stop harvesting. Yield losses depend on cultivar, age, health and general maintenance of the crop, climate etc, but average copra losses may be 20-30% with premature nut fall and increased difficulty in dehusking (leading to greater labour requirements for this job) also contributing to economic loss.
DiagnosisTop of page
Removal of the tepals and microscopic examination at which point eriophyoid mites can be easily distinguished. Full confirmation requires mounting and careful taxonomic study (Amrine and Manson, 1996).
Detection and InspectionTop of page
The scarring and distortion of nutlets can be observed from the ground, although with taller trees the use of binoculars may be necessary. Harvested nuts also bear the marks, although few, if any, mites will be found on these.
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
Colomerus novahebridensis, widespread in South-East Asia and Oceania occurs mainly on the fruits, producing scarring similar to that of A. guerreronis (Hall et al., 1980). It apparently has no significant impact on coconut production (Kang, 1981). However, this species has been reported as causing damage on a few West African hybrids in the Philippines. Dolicotetranychus sp. also causes similar scarring, but causes flat-bottomed marks, sometimes as discrete rings around the circumference of the nut rather than distinctive 'v'-shaped marks.
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.
Chemical control of the coconut mite is possible; chinomethionate sprayed onto bunches of developing fruits every 20 or 30 days significantly reduced damage (Hernández, 1977). Similar results were obtained with acaricides applied at 15-day, but not 60-day, intervals (Mariau and Tchibozo, 1973).
Varietal differences in susceptibility occur (Mariau, 1986) and breeding may provide a long term solution. The tightness of fit of the perianth may be critical (Mariau, 1986; Moore, 1986; Howard and Abreu-Rodríquez, 1991) and this may be a varietal characteristic and also one influenced by agronomy and climate.
Experimentally, the use of Hirsutella species-based mycoacaricides has shown good field results but the development of successful products demands more research. Aratchige et al. (2009) summarized research on the potential of Neoseiulus baraki and Hirsutella thompsonii as biological control agents of A. guerreronis on coconut in Sri Lanka.
Good management, replacing old trees, providing balanced fertilizer regimes and generally maintaining healthy trees may increase the tolerance of trees to attack and hence reduce yield losses.
Nair et al. (2005) provide an overview of bioecology and management of A. guerreronis.
ReferencesTop of page
Amrine JW Jr; Manson DCM, 1996. Preparation, mounting and descriptive study of eriophyoid mites. In: Lindquist EE, Sabelis MW, Bruin J, eds. Eriophyoid mites their biology, natural enemies and control. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier, 383-396.
Anon., 1989. Eriophyes guerreronis. OlTagineux, 44:130-131.
Aratchige NS; Fernando LCP; Kumara ADNT; Suwandharathne NI; Perera KFG; Hapuarachchi DCL; Silva PHPRde, 2009. Advances in research on biological control of the coconut mite, Aceria guerreronis Keifer in Sri Lanka. Indian Coconut Journal, 52(5):23-30. http://www.coconutboard.nic.in
Arunachalam V; Jerard BA; Elain Apshara S; Jayabose C; Subaharan K; Ravikumar N; Palaniswami C, 2013. Digital phenotyping of coconut and morphological traits associated with eriophyid mite (Aceria guerroronis Keifer) infestation. Journal of Plantation Crops, 41(3):417-424.
Basavaraj Kalmath; Mallik B; Onkarappa S; Girish R; Srinivasa N, 2012. Isolation, genetic diversity and identification of a virulent pathogen of eriophyid mite, Aceria guerreronis (Acari: Eriophyidae) by DNA marker in Karnataka, India. African Journal of Biotechnology, 11(104):16790-16799. http://www.academicjournals.org/AJB/abstracts/abs2012/27Dec/Kalmath%20et%20al.htm
Coutts BA; Strickland GR; Kehoe MA; Severtson DL; Jones RAC, 2008. The epidemiology of Wheat streak mosaic virus in Australia: case histories, gradients, mite vectors, and alternative hosts. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research, 59(9):844-853. http://www.publish.csiro.au/view/journals/dsp_journal_fulltext.cfm?nid=40&f=AR07475
CRI/UNDP, 2000. Workshop on Coconut Mite (Aceria guerreronis. An international workshop organized by Coconut Research Institute, Sri Lanka, 6-8 January 2000. Sponsored by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Coconut Research Institute, Sri Lanka. Abstracts.
Desai VS; Nagwekar DD; Desai SS, 2010. Evaluation of neem based pesticides against coconut eriophyid mite, Aceria guerreronis Keifer in Konkan region of Maharashtra. Green Farming, 3(2):133-135. http://www.greenfarming.in
Doreste ES, 1968. El ßcaro de la flor del cocotero (Aceria guerreronis) en Venezuela. Agronomfa Tropical, 18:379-386.
EPPO, 2014. PQR database. Paris, France: European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization. http://www.eppo.int/DATABASES/pqr/pqr.htm
Flechtmann CHW, 1989. Cocos weddelliana H. Wendl. (Palmp: Arecaceae), a new host plant for Eriophyes guerreronis (Keifer,1965) (Acari: Eriophyidae) in Brazil. International Journal of Acarology, 15(4):241
Freitas JDBde; Innecco R; Mendes AJP; Gonçalves MEde C, 2006. Alternative control of the coconut mite, Aceria guerreronis. (Controle alternativo do ácaro da necrose do coqueiro.) Revista Ciência Agronômica, 37(3):315-320.
Griffith R, 1984. The problem of the coconut mite, Eriophyes guerreronis (Keifer), in the coconut groves of Trinidad and Tobago. In: Webb R, Knausenberger W, Yntema L, eds. Proceedings of the 20th Annual Meeting of the Caribbean Food Crops Society, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, 21-26 October, 1984. East Caribbean Center, College of the Virgin Islands and Caribbean Food Crops Society, 128-132.
Hall RA; Espinosa BA, 1981. The coconut mite, Eriophyes guerreronis, with special reference to the problem in Mexico. Proceedings, 1981 British Crop Protection Conference - Pests and Diseases, 113-120.
Hernßndez RF, 1977. Combate qufmico del eri=fido del cocotero Aceria (Eriophyes) guerreronis (K) en la Costa de Guerrero. Agricultura TTcnica en MTxico, 4:23-38.
Howard FW; Abreu-Rodrfguez E; Denmark HA, 1990. Geographical and seasonal distribution of the coconut mite, Aceria guerreronis (Acari: Eriophyidae), in Puerto Rico and Florida, USA. Journal of Agriculture of the University of Puerto Rico, 74:237-251.
Jn Pierre L, 2008. Mitigating the Threat of Invasive Alien Species in the Insular Caribbean (Saint Lucia). Report to CABI. 56 pp.
Keifer HH, 1965. Eriophyid studies B -14. California Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Entomology.
Mariau D, 1969. Aceria guerreronis Keifer: rTcent ravageur de la cocoteraie DahomTenne. OlTagineux, 24:269-272.
Mariau D; Julia JF, 1970. L'acariose a Aceria guerreronis (Keifer), ravageur du cocotier. OlTagineux, 25:459-464.
Mariau D; Tchibozo; HM, 1973. Essais de lutte chimique contre Aceria guerreronis (Keifer). OlTagineux, 28:133-135.
Moore D; Alexander L, 1987. Aspects of migration and colonization of the coconut palm by the coconut mite, Eriophyes guerreronis (Keifer) (Acari: Eriophyidae). Bulletin of Entomological Research, 77(4):641-650
Moore D; Alexander L; Hall RA, 1989. The coconut mite, Eriophyes guerreronis Keifer in St. Lucia: yield losses and attempts to control it with acaricide, polybutene and Hirsutella fungus. Tropical Pest Management, 35(1):83-89
Moore D; Howard FW, 1996. Coconuts. In: Lindquist EE, Sabelis MW, Bruin J, eds. Eriophyoid mites their biology, natural enemies and control. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier, 561-570.
Muthiah C; Bhaskaran R, 1999. Screening of coconut genotypes and management of eriophyid mite Aceria guerreronis (Eriophyidae: Acari) in Tamil Nadu. Indian Coconut Journal (Cochin), 30(6):10-11; 3 ref.
Návia D; Moraes GJde; Lofego AC; Flechtmann CHW, 2005. Acarofauna associated with coconut fruits (Cocos nucifera L.) from some localities in America. (Acarofauna associada a frutos de coqueiro (Cocos nucifera L.) de algumas localidades das Américas.) Neotropical Entomology, 34(2):349-354.
Ortega CA; Rodriguez VJ; Garibay VC, 1965. Investigaciones preliminares sobre el eri=fido del fruto del cocotero, Aceria guerreronis Keifer, en la Costa Grande de Guerrero. Agricultura TTcnica en MTxico, 2:222-226.
Sampedro L; Rosa JL, 1989. Seleccion de cepas de Hirsutella thompsonii Fisher para combatir al ßcaro del cocotero, Eriophyes guerreronis Keifer. I. Bioensayos de patogenicidad. Revista Mexicana de Micologia, 5:225-232.
Silva RVda; Narita JPZ; Vichitbandha P; Chandrapatya A; Konvipasruang P; Kongchuensin M; Moraes GJde, 2014. Prospection for predatory mites to control coconut pest mites in Thailand, with taxonomic descriptions of collected Mesostigmata (Acari). Journal of Natural History, 48(11/12):699-719. http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/tnah20
Skoracka A; Magowski W, 2002. Two species of eriophyoid mites (Acari, Prostigmata) in wheat cultivation (Triticum aestivum L.) and associated grass community in Wielkopolska, Poland. Journal of Applied Entomology, 126(9):481-483.
Zuluaga CI; Sanchez PA, 1971. La ro±a o escoriaci=n de los frutos del cocotero (Cocos nucifera L.) en Colombia. OlTagineux, 26:767-770.
Distribution MapsTop of page
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