Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Mononychellus tanajoa
(cassava green mite)

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Datasheet

Mononychellus tanajoa (cassava green mite)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 27 September 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Mononychellus tanajoa
  • Preferred Common Name
  • cassava green mite
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Chelicerata
  •         Class: Arachnida
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • The cassava green mite, M. tanajoa, is of Neotropical origin but was accidentally introduced to Africa in 1971 (Nyiira, 1...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Adult female mite with egg. Adult females are bigger than the males and attain a size of 0.8 mm.
TitleAdult
CaptionAdult female mite with egg. Adult females are bigger than the males and attain a size of 0.8 mm.
Copyright©Georg Goergen/IITA Insect Museum, Cotonou, Benin
Adult female mite with egg. Adult females are bigger than the males and attain a size of 0.8 mm.
AdultAdult female mite with egg. Adult females are bigger than the males and attain a size of 0.8 mm.©Georg Goergen/IITA Insect Museum, Cotonou, Benin

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Mononychellus tanajoa Bondar

Preferred Common Name

  • cassava green mite

Other Scientific Names

  • Mononychus tanajoa Fletchman & Baker, 1970
  • Tetranychus tanajoa Bondar

International Common Names

  • English: cassava green mite
  • Spanish: acaro amarillo de la yucca; acaro verde de la yucca
  • French: acarien vert

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: acaro verde da mandioca
  • East Africa: utitiri wa muhogo

EPPO code

  • MONNTA (Mononychellus tanajoa)

Summary of Invasiveness

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The cassava green mite, M. tanajoa, is of Neotropical origin but was accidentally introduced to Africa in 1971 (Nyiira, 1972). By 1985, the pest had spread throughout the cassava belt of Africa (Yaninek and Heren, 1988). M. tanajoa affects the important annual crop cassava (Manihot esculenta) and can cause a reduction of about 50% in leaf weight, and up to 80% tuber yield loss (Shukla, 1976; Gutierrez et al., 1988; Pallangyo et al., 2004). M. tanajoa is mainly dispersed by human activity, whereby infested plant materials and contaminated media are transported over long distances. Natural dispersion by wind and water may also spread the cassava green mite. In areas where both the pest and host plant are exotic, there is no evidence that indigenous natural enemies are significant factors in limiting the mite population growth rates. M. tanajoa can feed and reproduce on other plant species (Moraes et al., 1995) and is reported as a quarantine pest (Delalibera et al., 1992; EPPO, 2009).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Chelicerata
  •                 Class: Arachnida
  •                     Subclass: Acari
  •                         Superorder: Acariformes
  •                             Suborder: Prostigmata
  •                                 Family: Tetranychidae
  •                                     Genus: Mononychellus
  •                                         Species: Mononychellus tanajoa

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Mononychellus tanajoa was first described in Brazil as Tetranychus tanajoa by Bondar (1938). Tanajoa is a Brazilian Indian word meaning disease of cassava. Wainstein (1960) first proposed the genus Monochychus for species closely related to tanajoa. The species was later transferred to the genus Mononychus by Flechtmann and Baker (1970). Because of the prior usage of the name Mononychus for another group of animals, this group was newly named Mononychellus by Wainstein (1971).

In previous versions of the Compendium, M. caribbeanae was incorrectly listed as a synonym of M. tanajoa. This synonymy was proposed by Tuttle et al. (1977), but recent mite catalogues (Bolland et al., 1998; Vacante, 2016; Vásquez-Ordonez, 2014) list M. tanajoa and M. caribbeanae as distinct species.

Taxonomic keys for the separation of tetranychid mites feeding on cassava can be found in Flechtmann (1978, 1986), Macfarlane (1984) and Yaninek et al. (1989b).

The history of the nomenclature of M. tanajoa up to 1978 is given by Salas (1978). See also the catalogue by Bolland et al. (1998).

Description

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M. tanajoa, like other members of the Acari, are recognized by their inconspicuous or absent body segmentation giving the appearance of a single body unit. This mite also lacks wings, compound eyes and antennae. Adult females are bigger than the males and attain a size of 0.8 mm.

For more details refer to Jeppson et al. (1975) and Smith Meyer (1987).

Distribution

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Like cassava, its primary host, M. tanajoa originated from the neotropics, where it occurs sporadically.

Due to the misidentification of the exotic mite M. progresivus as M. tanajoa in Africa, the distribution of M. tanajoa in this region requires careful scrutiny. Distribution data for M. tanajoa published from the 1970s to the mid 1990s during a time of taxonomic ambiguity may not be as accurate as more current references (Hicks, 2017).

For further references to Central American records, see Bolland et al. (1998).

Records of M. tanajoa in Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Chile, French Guiana, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, Northern Mariana Islands and Micronesia (EPPO, 2014) published in previous versions of the Compendium are now considered unreliable (EPPO, 2016). 

A record of M. tanajoa in Australia (EPPO, 2014) published in previous version of the Compendium was based on an old record which is now considered to be erroneous. In 2016, Australian mite specialists confirmed the absence of M. tanajoa in Australia to the NPPO (EPPO, 2016).

Records of M. tanajoa in Florida (Pena et al., 1984) and Puerto Rico (Cruz, 1981) published in previous versions of the Compendium are considered invalid as they refer to M. caribbeanae, which was previously considered a synonym of M. tanajoa (Tuttle et al., 1977) but is now recognized as a separate species (Doreste, 1981).

In 2010, M. tanajoa was reported in Hainan, China (Lu et al., 2012), but the mite was incorrectly identified. Subsequent publications by Lu identify the species as M. mcgregor (Lu et al., 2014). Cassava green mite is not present in China (Parsa et al., 2015). M. tanajoa has not been reported in any of the Asian cassava-producing countries (Bellotti et al., 2012).

Korang-Amoakoh et al. (1987) described the species found in Ghana as “M. tanajoa sensu latu”, therefore the mite’s specific epithet was not verified. This record is unreliable as no current sources include Ghana in the distribution of M. tanajoa.

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.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

ChinaAbsent, invalid recordLu et al., 2012; Lu et al., 2014

Africa

BeninWidespreadYaninek, 1988
Burkina FasoWidespreadYaninek and Herren, 1988
BurundiWidespreadLeuschner, 1978; Ndayiragije and, 1984; Markham et al., 1987
CameroonWidespreadYaninek, 1988; Yaninek and Herren, 1988
Central African RepublicPresentSteiner, 1991
ChadPresentYaninek and Herren, 1988
CongoWidespreadGutierrez and Bonato, 1994
Congo Democratic RepublicWidespreadLeuschner, 1978
Côte d'IvoireWidespreadYaninek, 1988
Equatorial GuineaWidespreadYaninek, 1988
GabonWidespreadYaninek, 1988; Yaninek and Herren, 1988
GhanaAbsent, unreliable recordKorang-Amoakoh et al., 1987
GuineaWidespreadYaninek, 1988
KenyaWidespread Invasive Bruijn and Guthrie, 1982; Githunguri et al., 1984; Markham et al., 1987; Skovgard et al., 1993
LiberiaWidespreadYaninek, 1988
MalawiWidespread Invasive Munthali and, 1984; Sauti and, 1984; Yaninek, 1988
MaliWidespreadYaninek, 1988
MozambiqueWidespreadFletchmann, 1982; Byrne et al., 1983; Yaninek, 1988
NigerPresentYaninek, 1988
NigeriaWidespreadAnon., 1981; Akinlosotu and Leuschner, 1981; Akinlosotu, 1982
RwandaWidespreadByrne et al., 1983; Mulindangabo and Birandano, 1984; Markham et al., 1987; Yaninek, 1988
Sierra LeoneWidespreadJames, 1988; Yaninek, 1988
SudanWidespreadByrne et al., 1983; Yaninek, 1988
TanzaniaWidespreadMsabaha and, 1984; Markham et al., 1987; Yaninek, 1988
-ZanzibarWidespreadMakame and Said, 1984; Yaninek, 1988
TogoWidespreadWalter-Echols et al., 1983; Yaninek, 1988
UgandaRestricted distribution Invasive Lyon, 1973; Markham et al., 1987; EPPO, 2014
ZambiaPresentChakupurakal et al., 1994
ZimbabwePresentYaninek, 1988

North America

MexicoPresentUrias-Lopez and Carrillo-Sanchez, 1983; Doreste, 1984
USAAbsent, invalid record
-FloridaAbsent, invalid recordPena et al., 1984; Hicks, 2017

Central America and Caribbean

Antigua and BarbudaAbsent, unreliable recordEPPO, 2016
Dominican RepublicPresentEPPO, 2014
Puerto RicoAbsent, invalid recordCruz, 1981; Hicks, 2017
Trinidad and TobagoWidespreadYaseen, 1977

South America

ArgentinaAbsent, unreliable recordEPPO, 2016
BoliviaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
BrazilRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
-AlagoasPresentDelalibera et al., 1992
-AmazonasWidespreadDe Silva et al., 1981
-BahiaWidespreadFarias et al., 1982; Delalibera et al., 1992
-CearaWidespreadSantos et al., 1977; Tuttle et al., 1977; Bastos et al., 1979
-Fernando de NoronhaPresentFletchmann, 1987
-MaranhaoPresentDelalibera et al., 1992
-Minas GeraisPresentSamways, 1979; Samways and Ciociola, 1980
-ParaibaPresentDelalibera et al., 1992
-PernambucoWidespreadDelalibera et al., 1992
-PiauiWidespreadDelalibera et al., 1992
-Rio Grande do NortePresentDelalibera et al., 1992
-SergipePresentDelalibera et al., 1992
ChileAbsent, unreliable recordEPPO, 2016
ColombiaRestricted distributionGuerrero & Bellotti, 1981; Guerrero and Bellotti, 1980; EPPO, 2014
EcuadorRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
French GuianaAbsent, unreliable recordEPPO, 2016
GuyanaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
ParaguayRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
PeruAbsent, unreliable recordEPPO, 2016
SurinameAbsent, unreliable recordEPPO, 2016
UruguayAbsent, unreliable recordEPPO, 2016
VenezuelaRestricted distributionQuiros, 1978; Doreste, 1981; Agudelo-Silva, 1986; EPPO, 2014

Oceania

AustraliaAbsent, invalid recordEPPO, 2016
Micronesia, Federated states ofAbsent, unreliable recordEPPO, 2016
Northern Mariana IslandsAbsent, unreliable recordEPPO, 2016

History of Introduction and Spread

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M. tanajoa is native to South America but has spread widely across Africa. It was introduced to Uganda, East Africa, in 1971 with infested cassava cuttings imported from Colombia (Nyiira, 1972). In 1972, the pest had already spread to Ukerewe Island in Tanzania, which is about 970 km from Kampala. By 1988, the pest had spread to cover much of sub-Saharan Africa (Yaninek and Herren, 1988). Severe damage symptoms were found on the attacked cassava, especially during the dry season. For further references to Central American records, see Bolland et al. (1998)

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Congo Uganda 1975 Crop production (pathway cause) Yes No Yaninek et al. (1989b) Rate of spread 1600 km/yr
Nigeria Congo 1979 Crop production (pathway cause) Yes No Yaninek et al. (1989b) Rate of spread 825 km/yr
Tanzania Uganda 1972 Crop production (pathway cause) Yes No Yaninek et al. (1989b) Rate of spread 970 km/yr
Uganda South America 1971 Crop production (pathway cause) Yes No Nyiira (1972); Yaninek and Herren (1988) Found near Kampala

Risk of Introduction

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M. tanajoa has spread to almost all tropical countries where cassava is grown.

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Other
Vector Principal habitat
Terrestrial
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Protected agriculture (e.g. glasshouse production) Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Industrial / intensive livestock production systems Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Disturbed areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Rail / roadsides Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Wetlands Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Scrub / shrublands Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural

Hosts/Species Affected

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M. tanajoa is found on cassava (Manihot esculenta) and other plants in the genus Manihot, such as Manihot glaziovii and Manihot dichotoma (Bastos and Flechtmann, 1985; Ezulike and Egwuatu, 1993a). However, Moraes et al. (1995) reported that cassava green mite could feed and develop to the adult stage on Phaseolus vulgaris and also develop to the adult stage and lay eggs on the wild passion fruit Passiflora cincinnata. Several other hosts are listed in the catalogue by Bolland et al. (1998).

Tomato was previously listed as a host of M. tanajoa, but this host record was for M. caribbeanae, which is now recognized as a separate species (Doreste, 1981).

Common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) is a conditional non-preferred host of M. tanajoa (Hicks, 2017).

 

Growth Stages

Top of page Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Seedling stage, Vegetative growing stage

Symptoms

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M. tanajoa usually feed on the underside of young leaves, by inserting their piercing and sucking mouthparts (chelicerae) into individual cells and extracting the cell contents. This causes chlorosis as the chlorophyll is sucked from the cells. The leaves may become mottled, die and abscise. Severe attack leads to death and shedding of terminal shoots leading to the characteristic 'candle stick' symptom.

List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Leaves / abnormal colours
Leaves / abnormal leaf fall

Biology and Ecology

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The life history of M. tanajoa is typical of all tetranychids. Reproduction is arrhenotokous (Helle and Pijnacker, 1985). There are four active instars: a six-legged larva, two nymphal instars (protonymphs and deutonymphs) and an adult stage.

The biology of M. tanajoa, including the developmental time, fecundity and adult longevity depends on temperature, humidity, host plant and sex (Byrne et al., 1982b; Mesa et al., 1987; Yaninek et al., 1989a, c). Yaninek et al. (1989a) report that at 27°C, with relative humidity of 70% and a photoperiod of 12 hours light and 12 hours dark, the developmental times of egg, larva, protonymph and deutonymph on leaves of cassava (variety TMS 30572) were 5.4, 3.0, 1.1 and 2.8 days, respectively. At this temperature, typical of most areas in sub-Saharan Africa, the adult female mite lives for 11.6 days and lays an average of 62.8 eggs over a period of 9.8 days. The net reproduction rate reached a maximum of 43.2 progeny. Egg to adult developmental periods were estimated to be 21.3, 15.5, 12.3, 7.7 and 6.9 days at 20, 24, 27, 31 and 34°C, respectively. Yaninek and Gnanvossou (1993) reported that eggs, larvae and protonymphs had average fresh weights of 0.637, 0.625 and 1.013 µg respectively. Male and female deutonymphs had average weights of 1.209 and 2.715 µg, whereas male and female adults averaged 1.633 and 7.035 µg, respectively.

The availability of new foliage on cassava plants and the presence of rainfall are the major factors that determine the population dynamics of M. tanajoa in the field (Yaninek et al., 1989a, c). The population increases on new leaf growth during the early dry season (20-200 mites/leaf), but declines when defoliation and reduced leaf production follow drought. Prolonged rainfall also leads to a decrease in population (<1 mite/leaf) because the mites are washed off the plant.

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Ds - Continental climate with dry summer Tolerated Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) 14.4
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 18 34

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall4060mm; lower/upper limits

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Amblyseius aripo Predator Adults/Eggs/Nymphs not specific Benin; Cameroon; Congo; Kenya; Malawi; Mozambique; Nigeria; Tanzania; Uganda; Zambia cassava
Amblyseius degenerans Predator Adults/Eggs/Nymphs
Amblyseius idaeus Predator Adults/Nymphs Africa; Benin; Ghana
Amblyseius limonicus Predator Adults/Eggs/Nymphs
Amblyseius papayana Predator Adults/Nymphs Kenya cassava
Brumoides nigrifrons Predator Adults/Nymphs Kenya cassava
Cheilomenes sulphurea Predator Adults/Nymphs Burundi cassava
Chilocorus distigma Predator Adults/Nymphs Kenya cassava
Coniopteryx crassicornis Predator Adults/Nymphs Kenya cassava
Conwentzia africana Predator Adults/Nymphs Rwanda cassava
Euseius concordis Predator Adults/Nymphs Africa
Euseius fustis Predator Adults/Eggs/Nymphs not specific Burundi; Kenya; Malawi; Rwanda cassava
Euseius lokele Predator Adults/Nymphs Kenya cassava
Euseius talinga Predator Adults/Nymphs Kenya; Rwanda cassava
Exochomus ventralis Predator Adults/Nymphs Kenya cassava
Galendromus annectens Predator Adults/Eggs/Nymphs Africa
Galendromus helveolus Predator Adults/Eggs/Nymphs
Hirsutella thompsonii Pathogen Adults/Nymphs
Holobus fageli Predator Adults/Nymphs Burundi; Kenya; Malawi; Rwanda cassava
Holobus minutus Predator Adults/Eggs/Nymphs
Holobus pallidicornis Predator Adults/Nymphs Burundi; Kenya; Malawi; Rwanda cassava
Hyperaspis pumila Predator Adults/Nymphs Kenya cassava
Micraspis striata Predator Adults/Nymphs Kenya cassava
Neoseiulus anonymus Predator Adults/Eggs/Nymphs
Neoseiulus californicus Predator Adults/Nymphs Africa
Neoseiulus teke Predator Adults/Nymphs Kenya cassava
Neozygites floridana Pathogen
Phorocera assimilis Predator Adults/Eggs/Nymphs Kenya cassava
Phytoseiulus macropilis Predator Adults/Nymphs Africa
Phytoseius guianensis Predator Adults/Nymphs
Scymnus scapuliferus Predator Adults/Nymphs Burundi cassava
Stethorus aethiops Predator Adults/Nymphs Kenya; Malawi cassava
Stethorus jejunus Predator Adults/Nymphs Kenya cassava
Typhlodromalus manihoti Predator Adults/Eggs/Nymphs not specific Benin; Burundi; Ghana; Nigeria cassava
Typhlodromalus saltus Predator Adults/Nymphs Kenya cassava
Wollastoniella gatti Predator Adults/Nymphs Kenya cassava

Notes on Natural Enemies

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Predatory insects and mites are the most abundant and important natural enemies of M. tanajoa. Most of the known insect predators are either opportunists or effective only at high mite populations. The most commonly encountered insect predators in the neotropics are in the families Coccinellidae, Staphylinidae, Lygaeidae, Chrysopidae, Syrphidae, Anthocoridae and Cecidomyiidae (Farias et al., 1981; Byrne et al., 1983) and the order Thysanoptera. Stethorus spp. and Holobus (=Oligota) spp. have been reared and released in a number of countries.

Mites of the family Phytoseiidae are the most important predators of M. tanajoa because they have a high capacity for predation, even at low prey densities and are also easy to rear. Bellotti et al. (1987) listed 46 phytoseiid species found in association with M. tanajoa on cassava in Colombia.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

M. tanajoa is able to disperse actively by walking from one plant to another, or passively by aerial drifting, though species of Mononychellus are not known to produce silk for ballooning (Bellotti, 1985). Wind and water are important pathways for M. tanajoa dispersal. It is reported that M. tanajoa can disperse 200 meters with prevailing wind in 13 weeks (Yaninek, 1989). However, this distance is small in comparison to the hundreds of kilometres per day that infested plant materials can be transported by human beings across regions.

Accidental Introduction

Mites can survive on cassava leaves removed from the cassava plant for up to five days. They can also persist on cassava cuttings and isolated from external nutrients for up to 60 days. Collection and movement of planting material is considered as the most important mode of dispersal for M. tanajoa. Cassava stems and leaves are exported from rural to urban areas where they are sold as planting materials or vegetables. Farmers have a tendency of sharing planting materials, which may sometimes be infested. Researchers may also distribute planting materials to farmers and sometimes to fellow researchers in distant regions; by doing so they may spread the disease accidentally. Vehicles/ships containers, farm implements and clothing can also get contaminated and spread the pest from one area to another.

Intentional Introduction

Taxonomy, biology and ecological studies require live insects. Such studies may involve movement of M. tanajoa from infested fields to laboratories where the studies are conducted. Mass rearing of natural enemies also involves collection and movement of M. tanajoa.

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Bark adults Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Flowers/Inflorescences/Cones/Calyx adults; eggs Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Growing medium accompanying plants adults Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Leaves adults; eggs Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants adults; eggs Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches adults; eggs Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Wood adults 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
Bulbs/Tubers/Corms/Rhizomes
Roots

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Cultural/amenity Negative
Economic/livelihood Negative
Environment (generally) Negative
Human health Negative

Impact

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Damage caused by M. tanajoa varies according to the cassava cultivar and the length of the dry season. Prolonged drought encourages the build up of mites and increases yield losses. Chlorosis and stunted growth reduce the harvest of leaves as a vegetable. In some east and central African countries, tuber yield losses of 10-80% have been recorded (Shukla, 1976; Markham and Robertson, 1987). Skovgard et al. (1993) studied the effect of M. tanajoa on the growth and yield of cassava in Kenya and found that after 10 months, the dry matter of the infested plants was reduced by 29% in the storage roots and by 21% in the stems, compared with uninfested plants.

Economic Impact

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Depending on cassava cultivar and the length of the dry season, M. tanajoa can cause up to 80% tuber yield loss, up to 47.5 stem yield loss and up to 40.7 leaf yield loss (Shukla, 1976; Markham and Robertson, 1987, Pallangyo et. al., 2007). Since cassava leaves and tubers serve as a staple food source as well as a cash crop, decline in cassava yield can lead to household food and income insecurity. 

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Biodiversity

M. tanajoa causes cassava leaves to become stunted and can reduce them to a quarter of their original size. The leaves also become speckled with yellow spots (chlorosis) after infection by the cassava green mite. These spots, which frequently occur along the main veins of the leaves, can result in complete loss of chlorophyll pigment. Other mite species which suck chlorophyll from cassava leaves include two spotted spider mites, Tetranychus urticae and the red spider mite, Oligonychus gossypii. Red spider mites are larger than M. tanajoa and normally attack mature leaves lower down on the plants and cover the attacked leaves with webs. Although possible, there have been no reports of competition between these species and the invading cassava green mite.

Social Impact

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Decline in cassava yield causes a shortage of food and raw material for the food and feed processing industry. Such shortages may lead to malnutrition and a rise in unemployment. M. tanajoa also causes declines in the yield and quality of the cassava stems which can result in a shortage of planting materials for perpetuation of the crop.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Capable of securing and ingesting a wide range of food
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
Impact outcomes
  • Host damage
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts human health
  • Negatively impacts livelihoods
Impact mechanisms
  • Interaction with other invasive species
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field
  • Difficult/costly to control

Detection and Inspection

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M. tanajoa typically feeds on the underside of young leaves, starting along the veins and at the base of the leaves. Damage symptoms can be seen with the naked eye but eggs, crawlers or adults  are usually only visible under a light microscope. Examination of the underside of young leaves and growing terminals of cassava reveals the presence of this pest. Fresh sprouts from cassava stem cuttings may also harbour these mites and must be examined to prevent spread.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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M. tanajoa is similar to the red spider mites (Tetranychus spp. and Oligonychus spp.). Although M. tanajoa is greenish/yellowish in appearance and the red spider mites are reddish in colour, all of them cause yellow specks (chlorosis) on leaves, especially along the main veins. However, red spider mites are larger than M. tanajoa and normally attack mature leaves lower down on the plants and cover the attacked leaves with webs.

The damage caused by M. tanajoa also looks similar to that caused by African cassava mosaic disease. Both cause leaf chlorosis, but the greenish-yellowish patches of African cassava mosaic disease are usually larger and severe leaf distortion is common.

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.

Regulatory Control

Close inspection of cutting materials and the use of clean certified cuttings may reduce the spread of M. tanajoa and delay the time of infestation of the cassava crop.

Cultural Control

Cultural control is limited owing to economic, technical and social constraints. Options include early planting at the onset of the rains to encourage vigorous growth and thereby increase tolerance to mite attack. Cassava plants aged 2-9 months are the most vulnerable to infestation.

The way a mite-infested cutting is planted influences the presence of the mites on the leaves soon after sprouting. Cuttings planted in a slanting position had mites on the leaves soon after sprouting, but those planted horizontally did not (Ezulike and Egwuatu, 1990). Ezulike and Egwuatu (1993b) reported that cassava intercropped with pigeon pea suffered less damage from M. tanajoa than that grown on a pure stand. They also found that cassava intercropped with pigeon pea in triple and double rows gave higher tuber yields than when it was alternated in a single row or in a pure stand.

Host-Plant Resistance

Certain attributes, such as leaf pubescence (Leuschner, 1982), have been claimed to confer tolerance to M. tanajoa. Some attempts have been made to identify mite-resistant cassava cultivars (Shukla, 1976; Santos et al., 1977; Byrne et al., 1982a,b; Markham and Robertson, 1987Msabaha, 1984) but further studies including damage symptoms, tuber yields and disease resistance of the selected cultivars need to be carried out. Immunity to M. tanajoa is not known.

Biological Control

The importation of phytoseiids from the neotropics (especially from Colombia and Brazil) and their release into Africa began in 1984. In 1991, Amblyseius (=Neoseiulus) idaeus from north-eastern Brazil was reported to have persisted for over 18 months after release in Benin (Yaninek et al., 1991).

Toko et al. (1996) released the predator Amblyseius manihoti into a cassava field infested with M. tanajoa at the beginning of the dry season and recorded a 20% decrease in the numbers of M. tanajoa compared with control areas where there were no predators.

Herrera et al. (1994) studied the population dynamics of M. tanajoa and its predators Amblyseius limonicus and A. idaeus on cassava at three sites in Colombia between 1988 and 1990. The numbers of the phytoseiids increased in response to the population growth of M. tanajoa, but higher predator densities were observed when M. tanajoa densities were low. At one site (Pivijay), A. limonicus appeared at the peak population of M. tanajoa and suppressed the pest population, while itself persisting during the wet season in the absence of M. tanajoa. Compared with plots without predators, cassava plots with predators harboured less than 50% of the M. tanajoa population and produced double the fresh tuber yields.

The mite Typhlodromalus manihoti has been established in West Africa since its importation in 1989 from north-eastern Brazil (which is ecologically more similar to sub-Saharan Africa than is Colombia).

Typhlodromalus aripo was introduced from Brazil into West Africa to control M. tanajoa in 1993 (IITA, 1996). T. aripo has now spread, at times at a rate of 200 km/year, and established itself in more than 11 countries in Africa. M. tanajoa populations have dropped to less than 20/leaf, from more than 40/leaf before the introduction of T. aripo. Post release surveys conducted under farm field conditions in Tanzania reported a decline of M. tanajoa population densities from > 200 mites per leaf (before T. aripo introduction) to < 20 mites per leaf (Pallangyo et al., 2004). During a predator exclusion experiment, M. tanajoa population densities and damage severity were reduced by 64.3% and 45.3% respectively leading to an increase in cassava yield by up to 70% (Pallangyo et al., 2004). In Benin, this has led to a 30% increase in tuber yields, equivalent to a gain of $3 million per season.

The predatory insects Stethorus spp. and Holobus (=Oligota) spp. have been reared and released in a number of countries.

Among the pathogens, Neozygites spp. have shown the greatest potential for biological control. It has been reported to cause mortalities among M. tanajoa populations in Venezuela (Agudelo-Silva, 1986), Brazil (Delalibera et al., 1992), Colombia (Alvarez et al., 1993), Benin (Yaninek et al., 1996) and Kenya (Bartowski et al., 1988). The effect of abiotic factors on the ability of this fungus to cause epizootics among populations of M. tanajoa has been studied by Oduor et al. (1995a, b; 1996a, b; 1997a, b). Brazilian species are being compared with African strains to identify the ideal isolate for mass release in Africa.

Chemical Control

Most cassava is grown on a small scale by subsistence farmers with few resources. Lack of knowledge and finance makes the use of chemicals a non-sustainable option for controlling M. tanajoa. Pesticide resistance is also a problem in the long term.

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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There is a need to investigate the impact of M. tanajoa on other mite species including Tetranychus urticae and Oligonychus gossypii; also on cassava diseases including CMD and Cassava Brown Streak Disease Viruses. Research needs to be undertaken to establish the impact of M. tanajoa on biodiversity and Pest Surveillance to determine the current status of M. tanajoa.

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Organizations

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Benin: IITA (Institut International d'Agriculture Tropicale), BP 08-0932 Cotonou, http://www.iita.org/

Kenya: International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology, P.O. Box 30772-00100, Nairobi, http://www.icipe.org/

Tanzania: Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, PO Box 2462, Dar es Salaam, http://www.agriculture.go.tz/

Tanzania: TanBIF, TanBIF, P.O. Box 4302, Ali Hassan Mwinyi Road, Kijitonyama (Sayansi ) COSTECH Building, Dar-es-Sala, http://www.tanbif.or.tz/

France: EPPO European and Mediterranean Organization, OEPP/EPPO, 1 rue Le Nôtre, 75016 Paris, France, http://www.eppo.org

Brazil: EMBRAPA, Embrapa Sede, Parque Estação Biológica - PqEB s/n°. Brasília, DF - Brasil - CEP 70770-901, http://www.embrapa.br/english

Colombia: CIAT International Centre for tropical Agriculture, Km 17, Recta Cali-Palmira, Apartado Aéreo 6713, Cali, http://ciat.cgiar.org/

Contributors

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26/08/2013 Updated by:

Beatrice Pollangyo, Ministry of Agriculture Food Security and Cooperatives, P.O.BOX 9071, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

03/11/1998 Orginal text by:

George Odour, CABI, ICRAF Complex, PO Box 633, Village Market, Nairobi, Kenya

Distribution Maps

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