Aleurodicus cocois (coconut whitefly)
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- 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
- 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
- Aleurodicus cocois Curtis, 1846
Preferred Common Name
- coconut whitefly
Other Scientific Names
- Aleurodicus anonae Morgan, 1892
- Aleyrodes cocois Curtis, 1846
International Common Names
- English: coconut mealywing
- Spanish: mosca blanca del cocotero
- Portuguese: aleurodideo do cajueiro; mosca branca do cajueiro
Local Common Names
- Latin America: aleurodideo do cajueiro
- Brazil: cashew whitefly; mosca brancha do cajueiro
- ALEDCO (Aleurodicus cocois)
- Aleurodicus cocois anacardi
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Uniramia
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Hemiptera
- Suborder: Sternorrhyncha
- Unknown: Aleyrodoidea
- Family: Aleyrodidae
- Genus: Aleurodicus
- Species: Aleurodicus cocois
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
Mound and Halsey (1978) listed A. iridescens as a synonym of A. cocois, but Martin and Watson (1998) showed that A. iridescens is a junior synonym of A. pulvinatus, also a pest of coconut in the Caribbean. This recent taxonomic change renders older literature records of the distribution and host range of A. cocois somewhat uncertain because they may refer to one or other species, or both.
Serious damage of cashew nut trees in north-eastern Brazil has been caused by an insect morphologically indistinguishable from A. cocois, but which apparently will not feed on coconut. Carvalho et al. (1976) proposed that this population is a separate race, A. cocois anacardi. This datasheet, based on literature and slide-mounted insect material, does not distinguish between races of A. cocois.
Several species of Aleurodicus in different parts of the world are found on coconut and may be referred to by the common name `coconut whitefly' (A. cocois, A. pulvinatus and A. dispersus in the neotropics; A. destructor and A. dispersus in Australasia and southern Asia). Computer searches should be done using the relevant species name, or information on the wrong species could be retrieved.
DescriptionTop of page
Eggs, each about 0.25 mm long, are laid perpendicular to the lower leaf surface, each on a very short pedicel. They are pale initially and turn dark grey as they mature. They are laid in a spiral pattern (about 2 cm or more across) amongst patches of white wax deposited by the female. The eggs hatch into tiny crawlers that tend to settle and feed within, or close to, the oviposition spiral of white wax patches; after this, the insect is sessile until the winged adult emerges.
There are four immature stages, each successively larger than the last, with the fourth instar/pupal stage measuring up to 0.95-1.4 mm long and 0.75-1.05 mm wide; males are smaller than females. In the second to fourth instars, legs are reduced to non-functional stubs. Shortly after moulting, each immature stage develops a coating of mealy white wax, thicker in some areas than others; with the passage of time, a marginal fringe of thick, white, flocculent wax is produced to form a striking feature, forming thick, sculpted patterns around, and (in the case of A. cocois) sometimes over, the late pupal stage. Paired dorsal submarginal compound pores each secrete a filament of glassy wax that projects from the insect and periodically breaks off and falls to litter the immediate area with glistening rods. If several immature individuals are close together, the colony may become quite thickly coated with a mass of flocculant white wax and glassy wax filaments.
The adult emerges from the pupa as a yellow-orange insect, about 2- 2.5 mm long, with black eyes and 2 pairs of pale, translucent wings that are folded into a triangular profile with the wings held at a shallow angle to the horizontal, like some moths. The hind wings are only slightly shorter than the forewings. The insect remains sitting on the leaf near the oviposition spiral for 1-2 days while it develops a powdery wax coating. Wax pores on either side of the abdomen produce powdery white wax that is used to coat the body with a mealy layer and to turn the wings white. In A. cocois (also in A. dispersus and A. destructor, which do not belong to the A. cocois species group but do occur on palms) the wings are entirely white; in A. pulvinatus and several other species in the A. cocois species group, part of each forewing has a faint patch of grey pigment. Like most species in subfamily Aleurodicinae, the males have a very large pair of claspers at the posterior end.
DistributionTop of page
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.Last updated: 25 Feb 2021
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Antigua and Barbuda||Present|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||Present|
|Trinidad and Tobago||Present|
|-Piaui||Present||Original citation: Branco-Filho et al. (1988)|
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
HabitatTop of page
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
IIBC (1997) mentions that, of the A. cocois species group collected in Trinidad, A. cocois was the commonest on coconut, while A. pulvinatus was found on seagrape, coconut and guava, and A. maritimus was the commonest species on guava and pigeonpea. It is possible to culture A. cocois on young coconut plants in the laboratory.
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
|Anacardium occidentale (cashew nut)||Anacardiaceae||Main|
|Arecaceae (plants of the palm family)||Arecaceae||Other|
|Cocos nucifera (coconut)||Arecaceae||Main|
|Hevea brasiliensis (rubber)||Euphorbiaceae||Other|
|Musa x paradisiaca (plantain)||Musaceae||Other|
|Persea americana (avocado)||Lauraceae||Other|
|Piper nigrum (black pepper)||Piperaceae||Other|
Growth StagesTop of page
SymptomsTop of page
Heavy infestations of coconut palms cause the oldest fronds to die and fall successively; flowers also die and fall off, and nuts fail to develop; eventually only the crown is left, and this dies and falls off, leaving the bole standing (Curtis, 1846; illustration in Martin and Watson, 1998). On cashew, the pest feeds in colonies on the lower leaf surfaces (Coodenardoria de Sanidade Vegetal, 1976) and can kill trees (Dunham and Andrade, 1971).
List of Symptoms/SignsTop of page
|Leaves / external feeding|
|Leaves / honeydew or sooty mould|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
Reproduction is usually sexual in whiteflies, although parthenogenesis may occur in some species. Gondim and Sales (1983) record a sex ratio of 1 male: 2 females in A. cocois in laboratory studies. Like other species of Aleurodicus, the female of A. cocois walks in a tight spiral on the leaf underside, laying eggs and depositing patches of white wax as she goes, forming an oviposition spiral of small white patches, about 2 cm across. This often remains visible even after the immatures have emerged and are developing.
Once the crawler settles at a feeding site, development continues; there are four immature instars altogether, all of which feed and produce honeydew. The last immature stage ceases to feed after a while and goes on to metamorphose into the adult; hence this stage is termed a pupa, or 'pseudopupa' (since technically a true pupa never feeds). The adult emerges from a T-shaped split in the dorsum of the pupa. In the laboratory at 20-25°C and about 88% RH, with a photoperiod of around 12 hours, Gondim and Sales (1983) recorded the average duration of the four instars of A. cocois anacardi as 6.17, 7.5, 5.5 and 8.5 days respectively; and the adults lived 16.14 +/- 1.99 days. They found there was a pre-oviposition period of ca 3.4 days.
In Ceara State, Brazil, Melo and Calvacante (1979) noticed that infestations of A. cocois are heaviest in areas near the coast where humidity was high, and decreased steadily as the relative humidity decreased.
Populations of whiteflies are often reduced by strong wind and heavy rain; however, the waxy colonies of Aleurodicus species, situated on the protected leaf undersides, are less badly affected than most.
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
|Clitostethus dispar||Predator||Adults; Arthropods|Nymphs||Brazil|
|Encarsiella noyesi||Parasite||Adults; Arthropods|Nymphs||Barbados; Brazil; St Vincent and the Grenadines||Arecaceae; cashews; Cocos nucifera|
|Mycosphaerella tassiana||Pathogen||Adults; Eggs; Arthropods|Larvae; Arthropods|Nymphs; Arthropods|Pupae|
|Nephaspis amnicola||Predator||Adults; Arthropods|Nymphs||Brazil||cashews|
|Nephaspis cocois||Predator||Adults; Arthropods|Nymphs|
|Nephaspis oculata||Predator||Adults; Arthropods|Nymphs||Brazil||cashews|
|Ocyptamus mentor||Predator||Adults; Arthropods|Nymphs|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
The records for Clitostethus dispar may be misidentifications for Nephaspis spp. (N. amnicola and N. cocois).
Simmonds (1958) mentions that scymnine predators of A. cocois, found in Trinidad, were also introduced to Barbados. Arruda (1976) recorded that Nephaspis cocois was the most effective natural enemy attacking A. cocois in Pernambuco State, Brazil.
According to Carvalho et al. (1972), the parasitic fungus Cladosporium herbarum [Mycosphaerella tassiana] attacks and kills all stages of A. cocois in Brazil (Pernambuco), but attempts to apply it as a control agent to other infested cashew trees were unsuccessful. They concluded that the fungus is uncommon and attacks the mealybug only when conditions are favourable.
ImpactTop of page
DiagnosisTop of page
Detection and InspectionTop of page
Good light conditions are essential for examination; in poor light, a powerful flashlight is helpful. One of the commonest, favoured hosts of A. cocois is coconut palm; this is a good host to monitor for early detection of the arrival of either A. cocois or A. pulvinatus. A. destructor also favours coconut palm, and A. dispersus will also feed on it.
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
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.
Various members of the A. cocois species group are not present on all the Caribbean islands, and several occurrences have demonstrated their pest potential on coconut palms (Curtis, 1846; Dash, 1922; Martin and Watson, 1998). As such, planting material of palms and guava originating in the neotropics should be checked to ensure they are free of Aleurodicus infestation before they are allowed into any country where members of the A. cocois species group are not already present.
Introduction of Encarsiella noyesi and scymnine predators from Trinidad to Barbados achieved successful control of A. cocois (Simmonds, 1958; IIBC, 1997). Similar introductions were made into Brazil in 1962, but the results are unknown (Cock, 1985).
Natural enemies must be important in controlling populations of A. cocois on cashew in Algoas, Sergipe and Bahia states in Brazil, since outbreaks of this pest have been attributed to a disruption of biological control (Dunham and Andrade, 1971).
The effectiveness of pesticide sprays against Aleurodicus species tends to be reduced because of their habit of living under leaves, and the water-repellent waxy covering that develops over colonies. Any pesticide used against them should be carefully selected to avoid injury to the natural enemies, since they are likely to be important in helping to keep populations at low levels in the long term. Outbreaks of A. cocois on cashew in Algoas, Sergipe and Bahia states in Brazil have been attributed to a disruption of biological control (Dunham and Andrade, 1971), possibly due to the use of pesticides.
Sales et al. (1983) reported excellent control of A. cocois in laboratory tests of 24 organosynthetic insecticides in Brazil (Ceara) using malathion and fenithion. Branco-Filho et al. (1988) tested five insecticides against A. cocois on cashew trees in the field in Piaui, Brazil, and found that diazinon and mineral oil gave only 68% control. However, no mention is made of the impact these pesticides had on the natural enemy populations.
ReferencesTop of page
Arruda EC de, 1976. Nephaspis cocois (Coleoptera Coccinellidae), a new predator of the cashew whitefly, found in Pernambuco. Anais da Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco, Ciencias Biologicas, 3(1):39-43.
Branco Filho ATC; Lima FN; Medeiros Moura MM; Ribeiro VQ, 1988. Efficiency of insecticides for the control of the white fly (Aleurodicus cocois) (Curtis, 1846) of the cashew tree. Brasil Florestal, 15(63):49-52.
Carvalho MB de; Aquino M de LN; Oliveira MHCCde, 1972. Considerations on the biological control of Aleurodicus cocois (Curtis, 1846) (Homoptera, Aleyrodidae), cashew whitefly. Anais do Instituto de Ciencias Biologicas, 2(2):25-30.
Carvalho MB de; Freitas A de O; Arruda GP de, 1971. Some observations on Aleurodicus cocois (Curtis, 1846) (Homoptera, Aleyrodidae), the cashew 'white fly' in the State of Pernambuco. Boletim Technico do Instituto de Pesquisas Agronomicas, Recife, 1971, 18.
Coordenadoria de Sanidade Vegetal; Governo do Estado do Ceara, 1976. The cultivation of cashew. A cultura do Cajueiro. Fortaleza, Brazil: Coordenardoria de Sanidade Vegetal, Secretaria de Agricultura e Abastecimento, Governo do Estado do Ceara.
Curtis J, 1846. Entomology: Aleyrodes cocois (the cocoa-nut Aleyrodes). Gardeners Chronicle, 1846:284-285.
Dash JS, 1922. Troisiéme rapport de la Station Agronomique del la Guadeloupe, juillet 1920 á juin 1921. Point-á-Pitre, Gaudeloupe: Station Agronomique del la Guadeloupe, 7-17. [from Review of Applied Entomology. Series A Agricultural, 1922, 10:329].
Dunham O; Andrade SN de, 1971. The occurrence of the white fly Aleurodicus cocois as a pest of cashew, Anacardium occidentale, in the State of Bahia. Boletim do Instituto Biologico da Bahia, 10(1):32-36.
Martin JH, 1997. The type species of Aleurodicus Douglas, a whitefly genus of economic importance (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae). Memoirs of the Museum of Victoria, 56(1):125-128.
Morgan ACF, 1892. A new genus and species of Aleurodidae. Entomologist's Monthly Magazine, 28:29-33.
Núñez del Prado E; Iannacone J; Gómez H, 2008. Effect of two entomopathogenic fungi in controlling Aleurodicus cocois (Curtis, 1846) (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae). Chilean Journal of Agricultural Research, 68(1):21-30. http://www.inia.cl/at/agritec.htm
Silva QMp; Cavalcante RD, 1977. The occurrence of the whitefly (Aleurodicus cocois Curtis) (Hom. Aleyrodidae) as a pest of cashew (Anacardium occidentale L.) in the State of Ceara. Fitossanidade, 2(1):13-14.
Simmonds FJ, 1958. Recent work on biological control in the British West Indies. 10th International Congress of Entomology Proceedings 4:476.
CABI, Undated. Compendium record. Wallingford, UK: CABI
CABI, Undated a. CABI Compendium: Status as determined by CABI editor. Wallingford, UK: CABI
Carvalho M B de, Freitas A de O, Arruda G P de, 1971. Some observations on Aleurodicus cocois (Curtis, 1846) (Homoptera, Aleyrodidae), the cashew 'white fly' in the State of Pernambuco. (Algumas consideracoes sobre o Aleurodiscus cocois (Curtis, 1846) (Homoptera, Aleyrodidae), 'mosca branca' do cajueiro, no Estado de Pernambuco.). In: Boletim Tecnico do Instituto de Pesquisas Agronomicas, Recife, 20 pp.
Dunham O, Andrade S N de, 1971. The occurrence of the white fly Aleurodicus cocois as a pest of cashew, Anacardium occidentale, in the State of Bahia. (Ocorrencia da mosca branca (Aleurodicus cocois Curtis) como praga do cajueiro (Anacardium occidentale L) no Estado de Bahia.). Boletim do Instituto Biologico da Bahia. 10 (1), 32-36.
Martin JH, 1997. The type species of Aleurodicus Douglas, a whitefly genus of economic importance (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae). In: Memoirs of the Museum of Victoria, 56 (1) 125-128.
NHM, Undated. Specimen record from the collection in the Natural History Museum (London, UK)., London, UK: Natural History Museum (London).
Núñez del Prado E, Iannacone J, Gómez H, 2008. Effect of two entomopathogenic fungi in controlling Aleurodicus cocois (Curtis, 1846) (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae). Chilean Journal of Agricultural Research. 68 (1), 21-30. http://www.inia.cl/at/agritec.htm
Oyelade O J, Ayansola A A, 2015. Diversity and distribution of whiteflies in southwestern Nigeria. African Crop Science Journal. 23 (2), 135-149. http://www.ajol.info/index.php/acsj/article/view/117735/107363
Silva A B, 1977. Aleurodicus cocois (Curtis, 1846) attacking pepper (Piper nigrum L.) in the State of Para. (Aleurodicus cocois (Curtis, 1846) atacando pimenta do reino (Piper nigrum L.) no Estado do Para.). Anais da Sociedade Entomologica do Brasil. 6 (1), 136-137.
Silva Q M A e, Cavalcante R D, 1977. The occurrence of the whitefly (Aleurodicus cocois Curtis) (Hom. Aleyrodidae) as a pest of cashew (Anacardium occidentale L.) in the State of Ceara. (Ocorrencia da mosca branca (Aleurodicus cocois Curtis) (Hom. Aleyrodidae) como praga do cajueiro (Anacardium occidentale L.) no Estado do Ceara.). Fitossanidade. 2 (1), 13-14.
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