from Crop Knowledge Master, University of Hawaii, Extension Service
by Jayma L. Martin Kessing and Ronald F.L. Mau
Brevipalpus phoenicis (Geijskes)
Names: Red and black flat Mite
This mite has an
extensive host range and may cause economic damage, depending on the
host. Pritchard and Baker (1958) list over 65 hosts. In Hawaii, the red
and black flat mite has been reported on anthurium, banana,
Hemigraphis, lemon, macadamia, orchid, papaya and passion fruit. In
other parts of the world it is common on tea and Citrus.
is a tropical-subtropical species that has been accidentally
transported by man to many areas of North America where it survives in
greenhouses. This mite was first found in Hawaii on Oahu in 1955 and
has subsequently been reported on Kauai, the Big Island and Maui.
Hawaii, the red and black flat mite is abundant in areas between sea
level and 1,000 feet, scarce between 1,000 and 2,500 feet and has not
been recorded in areas above 2,500 feet in elevation (Haramoto, 1969).
It is usually not considered to be a pest of economic importance above
1,000 feet (Haramoto, 1969).
by this mite devitalizes the plant and causes the collapse of the inner
leaf tissue. Old damage is characterized by browning of the damaged
leaf surface. In addition, some hosts exhibit deformed leaves.
papaya plants, this mite usually feeds on the trunk six to ten inches
below the attachment of the bottom whorl of leaves (Haramoto, 1969).
The mites move upward on the trunk and outward onto the leaves and
fruit as the population density increases. Many feeding punctures occur
close together, and the affected areas coalesce to form large
continuous callus-like, light brown, scaly and/or scabby areas
(Haramoto, 1969). Feeding damage is pronounced on young papayas and
injured areas become sunken because they grow at a different rate than
the unaffected tissues. In heavy infestations, the papaya stem becomes
tan colored and suberized prematurely and makes a spindly growth
On citrus, this mite has mean associated as the cause of swellings on citrus stems ("Brevipalpus gall"). Also leaves abscise prematurely or exhibit foliar chlorosis ("phoenicis blotch") (Knorr, et. al., 1960).
are primarily composed of females; males compose less than 1% of the
population in Hawaii (Haramoto, 1969). Reproduction primarily occurs
through unfertilized parthenogenesis. Eggs produce only females.
Because of the size of these insects it is very difficult to see the
different stages without the use of a microscope. Refer to Haramoto
(1969) and Nagesha et al. (1974) for detailed descriptions.
duration of different life stages varies with temperature and humidity.
The duration from newly laid egg to adult requires minimum of 18.6 days
at 86º F and a maximum of 48.8 days at 68º F under laboratory
conditions (Haramoto, 1969). The mite cannot complete its life cycle at
humidities below 30%, nor at average temperatures above 86º F and
below 68º F (Haramoto, 1969).
Generations are continuous in
Hawaii, often overlapping. Based on laboratory studies there are at
least 10 generations per year (Haramoto, 1969).
indicum the life cycle was completed in 20.02 days at 70û F and
29.66 days at 79º F (Lal, 1979). In the same study by Lal (1979),
the life cycle duration on Clerodendron siphonanthus took 28.34 and 20.20 days at 70º F and 79º F, respectively.
are deposited in cracks, crevices and other protected areas on the
plant surface. Although each egg is laid singly, they often occur
clustered together because females will use an egg laying site several
times (Haramoto, 1969). These clusters of bright reddish orange eggs
are more easily seen with the naked eye than any other life stage
Eggs are elliptical and about 1/250 inch long
by 7/2500 inch wide (Haramoto, 1969) and slightly broadened at one end.
When first laid they are light orange, soft and very sticky. At this
time they readily adhere to any surface. Eggs have a stipe, a tail-like
projection, that extends from the slightly pointed end that came out of
the female mite last. This stipe often breaks off if the egg is
handled. A day before hatching, the eggs become opaque white and the
red eyes of the larvae are visible within (Haramoto, 1969).
occurs in minimum of 8 days at 86û F with 65 to 70 percent
humidity and a maximum of 24.8 days at 68º F with 85 to 90
percent humidity under laboratory conditions (Haramoto, 1969). Eggs do
not hatch in constant temperatures below 68º F and above
86º F regardless of humidity (Haramoto, 1969).
are 6 legged, bright orange-red when newly emerged and average about
14/2500 inch long by 9/2500 inch wide (Haramoto, 1969). When fully
grown they are opaque orange and 17/2500 inch long by 11/2500 inch wide
There are two nymphal stages,
the protonymph and the deutonymph. The protonymph is larger than the
larva (about 23/2500 inch long by 14/2500 inch wide) and has 8 legs.
The outer shell is transparent, light green, orange, black and yellow
patches may be seen within the body. The deutonymph is similar in
appearance to the protonymph except for having an extra pair of legs,
two additional setae (hairs) and being slightly larger (averaging
29/2500 inch long by 16/2500 inch wide) (Haramoto, 1969).
from egg hatch to adult required a minimum of 10.6 days at 86º F
and a maximum of 27.3 days at 68º F under laboratory conditions
(Haramoto, 1969). The optimum development duration of 19.8 days
occurred at 77º F with 70 percent humidity (Haramoto, 1969).
Temperatures above 86º F and below 68º F for prolonged
periods are fatal to immature stages.
The adult female
is very small, approximately 3/250 inch long by 16/2500 inch wide
(Haramoto, 1969). The body is elliptical, flat, light to dark green or
reddish orange. There are four legs extending forward and 4 legs
extending behind. A black mark in the shape of an "H" becomes visible
when these mites are reared in temperatures between 68º F and
77º F, while this black spot is not present at 86º F (Haramoto, 1969).
The adult male is flat, reddish and more wedge shaped than the female. Males do not have black markings (Haramoto, 1969).
average, adults lived for a maximum of 47 days at 68º F and a
minimum of 7.5 days at 86º with a relative humidity of 85 to 90
percent (Haramoto, 1969).
During the pre-oviposition period,
females feed for 4 to 12 days (average 7.74 days) on guava (Nagesha
Chandra and Channabasavanna, 1974) and 2.3 to 6.5 days on papaya
(Haramoto, 1969). At 77º F each female laid from one to four eggs
per day (Haramoto, 1969) for 9 to 35 days (Nagesha Chandra and
Channabasavanna, 1974). The number of eggs laid by each female varies
with temperature if the relative humidity is held constant (Haramoto,
1969). The oviposition process itself takes 12 to 30 minutes (Zaher,
et. al., 1971). Females live for 2 to 22 days (average 10.4 days) after
she has stopped laying eggs on guava (Nagesha Chandra and
protonymph and deutonymph stages have active periods during which they
feed, grow and disperse followed by an inactive stage in which they
transform into the next stage of development. Feeding, growth and
dispersal activity are similar in all stages becoming more pronounced
with the passing of each stage (Haramoto, 1969). During the inactive
stage this mite assumes a characteristic position with its feeding
stylets penetrating the plant tissue and legs straightened outward.
There is no feeding during this period and the stylets anchor the mite
to the plant (Haramoto, 1969).
The red and black flat mite feeds
throughout the day and night. Feeding is especially intense in
temperatures between 77º and 86º F and high relative humidity
(Haramoto, 1969). They generally feed on the stems of plants, but will
feed on fruits when population densities are high (Haramoto, 1969).
Females start feeding soon after emergence and must do so before laying
eggs. Females usually remain near the area in which they hatched if
food is ample and suitable.
abundance of host plants, warm and humid climate and few natural
enemies are favorable conditions for high population densities of this
mite (Haramoto, 1969). Conditions contrary to these do not support high
population densities and favor control by natural enemies (Haramoto,
Biological Control -- Predators
At least four predators of the red and black flat mite are known in Hawaii: three mites: Phytoseiulus macropilis (Banks), Amblyseius largoensis (Muma), Mexecheles hawaiiensis (Baker); and the beetle, Sticholotis punctata Crotch (Haramoto, 1969). The predatory mites, P. macropilis and A. largoensis
feed on the eggs the red and black mite, but are not suspected to live
and reproduce exclusively on them (Haramoto, 1969). The larvae, nymphs
and adults of M. hawaiiensis attack all active stages of the red and black flat mite and may survive solely on them. Accounting for 87%, M. hawaiiensis is the most abundant predator of this pest in Hawaii. S. punctata
was introduced from China and Japan to control scales, it can
noticeably control the red and black mite and feeds on all stages
The above mentioned predators generally do not
provide economic control because their predatory activity becomes
apparent when the prey population density is very high and severe plant
damage has already occurred. Therefore, other agents must be introduced
for economic control (Haramoto, 1969).
this mite reproduces parthenogenically, as do most other false spider
mites, they do not have the genetic variability and mixing of most mite
species that reproduce sexually. Therefore, resistance to pesticides is
less likely to be selected out from a population (Haramoto, 1969) and
is less of a problem. Although the red and black flat mite is resistant
to certain organophosphates, it is susceptible to most acaricides.
However, resistance may develop if selection pressure is high due to
frequent pesticide applications.
Chemical sprays should be
applied to affected plants at 2-3 week intervals if the infestation is
severe (Hill, 1983). Any of the registered miticides are usually
effective. Wettable sulfur should not be used in localities where
relative humidity is abnormally low.
Denmark, H. A. 1975. A False Spider Mite, Brevipalpus phoenicis (Geijskes), Damage to Aphelandra. Fla. Dept. Agr. & Consumer Serv., Division of Plant Industry, Entomology Circular No. 54.
Haramoto, F. H. 1968. Biology and Control of Brevipalpus phoenicis (Geijskes) (Acarina: Tenuipalpidae). Hawaii Agric. Exp. Sta. Tech. Bull. No. 68: 1-63.
Hill, D. S. 1983. Brevipalpus phoenicis
(Geijskes). pp. 503. In Agricultural Insect Pests of the Tropics and
Their Control, 2nd Edition. Cambridge University Press. 746 pages.
Knorr, L. C. and H. A. Denmark. 1970. Injury to Citrus by the Mite Brevipalpus phoenicis. J. Econ. Entomol. 63(6): 1996-1998.
Knorr, L. C., B. N. Webster and G. Malaguti. 1960. Injuries to Citrus Attributed to Brevipalpus Mites, including Brevipalpus Gall, a Newly Reported Disorder in Sour-Orange Seedlings. FAO (Food Agr. Organ. U.N.) Plant Prot. Bull. 8:141-148.
Lal, L. 1979. Biology of Brevipalpus phoenicis (Geijskes) (Tenuipalpidae: Acarina). Acarologia. 20(1): 97-101.
Nagesha Chandra, B. K. and G. P. Channabasavanna. 1974. Biology of Guava Scarlet Mite, Brevipalpus phoenicis (Geijskes) (Acarina: Tenuipalpidae). Proc. of the 4th International Congress of Acarology. 167-176.
A. E. and E. W. Baker. 1958. The False Spider Mites (Acarina:
Tenuipalpidae). Univ. Calif. Publ. Ent. 14(3): 175-274, 51 fig.
Zaher, M. A., A. K. Wafa and A. A. Yousef. 1971. Biology of Brevipalpus phoenicis (Geijskes), in Egypt. Soc. Entomol. Egypte Bull. 5: 177-183.